Liquor companies add a caramel colourant to the spirits to ensure the same colour.

Some people drink tequila and dance on the tables while others sit and cry while sipping on gin.

It’s because we remember things. It’s strange to talk alcohol and memory in the same story, but it’s true. Aromas are better at triggering memories than any

other senses. Not memories from last week, but from decades ago.
The brain receives messages from the nose and compares those messages to the aromas from years ago. Remember, the mouth can only pick up five flavours – sweet; sour; bitter; salty and umami. 

The nose can pick up one trillion different aromas. If you are 45 and drinking tequila, your brain recognises the aroma of tequila from the time you were 19 and just out of high school. Your brain finds an aroma connection. That can spell danger, as your brain tells your body to do what it did when it was 19 – dancing on the tables.
Drink gin 20 years later and your brain will remember the sadness you felt, if it once had a connotation with heartbreak.
Some people are very chilled on whisky, while others become the life and soul of the party.

Apart from the memory factor, the quantity and quality of alcohol makes a big difference to your behaviour. Drink too much, the brain gets its signals mixed
up. Your mouth and head are on different planets and you’re wearing beer goggles.

Let’s take a quick look at how distilled spirits are made. The more we know, the more we enjoy. All distilled spirits start off the same way: a sugary liquid.

Add yeast to the sugary liquid (generally molasses or sugar cane juice) and the yeast converts the sugars into alcohol.
That’s called fermentation. Your sugary liquid now contains about 8% alcohol. Heat that up. Because alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water, alcohol rises and separates from the other liquid. The alcohol vapours condense and the clear spirit is collected. That’s called distillation.
You can distill again, and end up with a lighter, purer spirit.
If you let the clear spirit mellow and mature for a while in oak barrels, the spirit picks up colour from the barrel. It loses the rough edges.

Spirits are a lot like people, don’t you think?
Sometimes liquor companies add a caramel colourant to the spirits. You won’t smell the colourant (unless you buy a dirt cheap, badly made spirit).
It’s is mainly used to get colour uniformity across blended whiskies.

Tequila is made in Mexico from the agave plant, which takes about 10 years before it can be harvested to produce tequila. Think about that next time you are having tequila shooters.
Vodka can be made from practically anything, for example grains, potatoes, grapes or rice. It is never aged in oak. It shouldn’t have a distinctive aroma, taste, or colour.

Questions about drinks? Email bernard@drinksmag.co.za.