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  • Lizzie is Science's Latin America correspondent, based in Mexico City.
 

ScienceShot: Where Should I Drink My Whiskey?

8 October 2013 7:15 pm
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Alexey Lysenko/Shutterstock

Don’t like whiskey? Maybe you need to speak to your favorite bar about improving its interior design. A new study finds that the environment in which people sip a whiskey influences how they perceived certain aspects of the beverage and even changes how much they liked it, researchers report today in the journal Flavour. The team invited more than 400 participants to a tasting event where they sipped a glass of Scotch in three environments carefully designed to correlate with different characteristics of the whiskey: the grassiness of its aroma, the sweetness of its taste, and the woodiness of its aftertaste. Each room was even outfitted with a custom scent designed by a professional perfumer to evoke the intended quality. Lo and behold, the tasters ranked the whiskey as “grassier” when sitting in lawn chairs among potted plants, “sweeter” when sniffing a sugary scent before a bowl of berries, and “woodier” when savoring the beverage surrounded by wood paneling and listening to a soundtrack of a crackling fire—even though they knew they were drinking the same whiskey the whole time. What’s more, the tasters reported enjoying the whiskey the most when they drank it in the “woody” room. No word on which kind of environment to choose if you just want to throw a couple back.

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