Whisky research reveals taste can be affected by environment

A change of environment can enhance the experience of enjoying whisky by up to 20% according to new research.

The research involved The Singleton Single Malt Scotch whisky and, according to brand owner Diageo, this is the world’s first scientific study exploring the senses and taste of whisky. The company said in a statement that “the study has exciting implications for people enjoying whisky in their own homes, and for the way pubs, bars and restaurants could be designed in the future”. 

Leading the study was Professor Charles Spence, head of crossmodal research at the Department of Experimental Science at Oxford University. Spence ran multi-sensory tests with sensory architects Condiment Junkie and The Singleton whisky for participants at a specially designed bar in London.

This study was followed by in-lab testing and under both conditions participants reported significant variations in their ratings of the scent, taste and flavour of whisky when tasting The Singleton in different atmospheres.

Spence said: “We carried out experiments both in the laboratory and in The Singleton Sensorium, under more realistic bar conditions. The Singleton Sensorium saw people tasting The Singleton Single Malt Scotch Whisky in three rooms with very different environments: a grassy room laid with turf and noises of nature, a fruity room with red fruits and chiming bells, and a woody room with wood panels and sounds of crackling wood. Both sets of results confirm that it really is possible to enhance the drinker’s experience by creating a rich multi-sensory environment. 

“This sort of research has significant implications for anyone looking to enhance their whisky experience in a bar, restaurant or even from the comfort of their own homes. Notable chefs have embraced the potential when working with all the senses to deliver powerful tasting experiences.”  

This latest research has been published in Flavour, a peer-reviewed journal from Bio Med. Velasco et al: Assessing the influence of the multisensory environment on the whisky drinking experience. The full paper is available to read via the following link: http://www.flavourjournal.com/content/2/1/23.

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