A SCOTS distillery is embarking on a unique research project – to see how music affects the taste of whisky.
A new study, titled ‘Which Whisky Sounds Best?’, will see Scotch enthusiasts sample three of the Glenrothes Speyside single malt vintage whiskies while listening to a range of music.
They will be asked how pitch, tempo and melody affect the taste and overall experience of enjoying a dram.
And anyone can take part – for just £8.
In previous studies relating to wine and other spirits, music has demonstrated a notable effect on our perception of flavour.
Now Bjorn Thorleifsson, who is currently studying an MA in Consumer Behaviour at Goldsmiths University in London, is helping Glenrothes find out whether it affects the taste of spirits too.
During the four tasting sessions, which are spread over the course of July, data will be collected and then studied for correlation.
All tests will take place at Kansas Smitty’s – a jazz bar in East London – and one of the founding members, Giacomo Smith, will personally select the music.
Amanda Baxter, spirits activation manager at Berry Bros & Rudd – a proprietor of the Glenrothes single malt brand – said: “We are trying to create a unique tasting and listening experience that is both instructive and also a lot of fun.
“Pitch, tempo and melody were all shown to have a notable effect on the way participants in the studies tasted wine.
“Nobody, to our knowledge, has tested these hypotheses in relation to spirits and we have the added bonus of Giacomo’s musical expertise.”
Anybody can take part, and tickets are currently on sale for £8 for each of the dates of the tasting – July 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th.
A 2011 experiment at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh showed that people who drank wine while listening to music had their taste perceptions altered by the character of the music.
For example, those listening to a “powerful and heavy” song used similar words to describe the taste of the wine.
Likewise, those listening to a slow guitar melody described the wine as “mellow and soft”.
The study concluded: “The taste of the wine reflected the emotional connotations of the background music played while they drank it.”
There has also been a growing interest in social experiments on Scotch whisky consumption in recent years.
In December 2015 the Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) partnered with the University of Edinburgh’s Dr Adam Moore to launch Project Flavour Behaviour – a study on the psychological effects of whisky.
Meanwhile in 2013, Diageo hosted the Singleton Sensorium in London to determine whether the environment could change consumer experiences of drinking whisky.
Led by professor Charles Spence, head of crossmodal research at the Department of Experimental Science at Oxford University, a series of multi-sensory tests suggested that the right environment could enhance the experience of enjoying whisky by up to 20%.