Confirmed: The Room You Drink In Affects Your Drink

Researchers conducted a taste-testing experiment in which participants consumed single-malt Scotch in specially-designed rooms labeled "grassy," "sweet," and "woody." They claimed the taste was different in each room.

What's the Latest Development?

At a Scotch-tasting event in London, Oxford University researchers designed three rooms for a special kind of taste test. Each of the rooms -- "grassy," "sweet," and "woodsy" -- contained objects, scents, and sounds that would normally be associated with those qualities. The researchers then gave non-connoisseurs glasses of 12-year-old single-malt Scotch (The Singleton) and walked them through the rooms in consecutive order. In each room, the tasters were asked to rate the Scotch on several attributes, including taste and level of enjoyment. On average, the tasters gave different ratings for the same Scotch depending on the room they were in.

What's the Big Idea?

The Oxford study is one of a very few that confirm what foodies of all stripes already know: Many different factors contribute to a location's ambience, and sight, smell and sound are only three. The researchers purposely chose Scotch because it tends to have a more consistent taste, unlike wine, which can change from year to year. Most of the tasters thought the Scotch tasted best in the "woodsy" room. A paper describing the experiment was published this week in the scientific journal Flavour.

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