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"Add some water to open up the flavors" goes the scotch adage. But how much is too much? Thank God we have scientists to quantify the answers to such questions. Researchers at Washington State University chemically analyzed how volatile compounds in 25 whiskies from aged bourbon to single-malt scotch responded to added water. A trained sensory panel found that up to 20% added water produced characteristically different smells in the whiskies. However, adding more than 20% water reduced the number of smells to just a familiar few. Something to keep in mind as the ice melts in your summer cocktail.
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In 2022, hop yields were down 40% in Czechia, 21% in Germany, and 12% in the US. To ensure a sufficient supply of the flowers essential to beer-making, Spanish company Enokoke has begun growing hydroponic hops under LED lights in Madrid warehouses. Its systems aren't subject to climate change and use about 95% less water than traditional outdoor farming. A limited edition IPA using Ekonoke's hops is already on tap in a Madrid bar and one of its funders, industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev, calls the venture "very promising."
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Whiskey that evaporates during aging is romantically called the “angel’s share." But the angel's share results in the devil's fungus, according to those who live near distilleries. Whiskey fungus is driving a wedge between residents of Lincoln County, Tennessee, and Jack Daniel’s, the distillery founded in 1866 in neighboring Moore County. For decades, JD's whiskey fungus has been coating homes, cars, patio furniture and road signs in a stubborn, sooty crust. Complaints have been filed. Lawsuits have been brought. Now, a local Tennessee court has halted construction of a new Jack Daniel's barrel house.
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For the first time ever, spirits surpassed beer in US market share, according to the US Distilled Spirits Council. Fueled in part by a resurgent cocktail culture and ready-to-drink cocktails, spirits claimed 42.1% of the alcohol market share, with beer sales just behind at 41.9% market share. In 2022, more than 60% of total spirits revenue came from sales of super-premium spirits such as tequila and American whiskey.
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Researchers at Edinburgh's Heriot-Watt University have begun testing how 8 varieties of barley from the 1800s respond to modern processing methods. A 200-year-old variety called Chevallier, the most popular barley in Britain for 100 years, is under the microscope. Scotland's Holyrood Distillery is sponsoring the research and hopes the heritage barleys will bring back flavors and aromas that have been missing from Scotch whisky for many decades.