clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The science of why whiskey tastes so good

What makes whiskey so delicious?

Andy Brunning, the chemistry teacher behind the blog Compound Interest, has an excellent new graphic that details the liquor's complex chemistry:

whisky chemistry grahpci

For a larger version, click here. (Andy Brunning/Compound Interest)

As Brunning points out, these flavorful compounds come from a number of different parts of the production process.

Lactones and aldehydes come from precursor molecules present in oak, which are then transferred into the liquor as it's aged in oak barrels.

Many Scotch whiskies also have a characteristic smoky flavor that comes from phenol compounds. These phenols result from the peat moss that's burnt to dry out barley before it's fermented.

Read more:

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.