Environment/Ambience Affects Taste and Flavor of Your Whiskey

A change of environment can enhance the experience of enjoying whiskey by up to 20%, according to the world’s first scientific study exploring the senses and taste of whiskey. The study has exciting implications for people enjoying whiskey in their own homes, and for the way pubs, bars and restaurants could be designed in the future.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour (Photo credit: Drunken Monkey)

Leading the study was Professor Charles Spence, Head of Crossmodal Research at the Department of Experimental Science at Oxford University. Professor Spence ran multi-sensory tests with sensory architects Condiment Junkie and The Singleton Single Malt Scotch 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 Single Malt Scotch Whisky in different atmospheres.

The study notes the future possibilities for creating specific multi-sensory environments to enhance the experience of drinking complex liquids such as whiskey. So whether one wishes to change the environment in which whisky is enjoyed by changing the lighting, putting on a special soundtrack, or even thinking about the surrounding scents – all can work to change the whiskey experience.

Professor Charles 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,” he said.

This is important for those who bring their clients out for a drink. Choose your ambience wisely!

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 study is available here.


From: Charles Spence, Professor


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