A new type of “gold standard” could soon permeate the whiskey industry.
Whiskey distillers typically age the spirits in charred, wooden casks over the years, allowing the liquid to slowly absorb the alchemical flavors released from the wood.SN: 10/31/19). Now, researchers have shown that gold flakes in whiskey can indicate how much flavor the liquid has taken on – it’s called aging quality. A mixing master’s method could provide a quick and cheap test to age whiskey, researchers report Oct. 6 in ACS On Nano Materials.
“A little bit of gold gives you this really bright, strong, red or blue or purple color,” says William Peveler, a chemist at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. The stronger the color, the faster the color rises, says the old man.
Master blenders sometimes perform tasting sessions to improve guesswork, but this process can be labor intensive. Alternatively, laboratory tests can measure the age by analyzing the whiskey for chemical flavor chemicals, called congeners, absorbed by the wooden barrels, but such analyzes can be expensive.
Past research has shown that a variety of chemicals, from neurotransmitters to compounds in maple syrup—can trigger gold ions in solution to coalesce into ultra-fine gold nuggets, or nanoparticles. So Peveler and his colleagues mixed solutions containing less than a penny’s worth of gold in different blends of whiskey and vodka. While no nanoparticles were formed in the vodka, they carried ions with the whiskey congeners to form nanoparticles in minutes. The size and shape of the nanoparticles vary between whiskies, so the spirit blooms in different colors.
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