Bompas & Parr create drinkable ‘whisky tornado’

27th March, 2013 by Becky Paskin

A group of artists and scientists have created the world’s first “whisky tornado” – a swirling mist of whisky vapour that can be breathed in through a straw.

Bompass & Parr whisky tornado

The Bompass & Parr ‘whisky tornado’

The art installation, which has been showcased at King’s College London’s Festival of Food and Ideas last week, uses industrial-size humidifiers to generate a vapour of Talisker single malt, which swirls within a giant bell jar.

Scotch drinkers looking for a new way to enjoy their favourite tipple are invited to dip a straw into the mist and breathe the whisky in, resulting in a new taste experience and hit of alcohol directly to the lungs.

Rather than simply a new way to consume a dram, the artwork is designed as a metaphor for the “impact the Scottish weather has on flavour formation in whisky”.

“Many things go into creating the flavours of a whisky,” said Sam Bompas. “We thought it would be interesting to look at the meteorological elements. Sunlight, temperature, rainfall and humidity all contributed to the distinctive aromatics.”

Developed in conjunction with scientists at King’s College, the tornado  is now being transferred to Leeds Gallery.

Dr Mark Freeman, senior lecturer in economic and social history at the University of Glasgow, added: “Whisky is shaped by the landscape in which it is distilled and matured, and part of Scotland’s distinctiveness in this respect is its weather.

“The weather affects the type of barley that can be grown, the amount and quality of water for making whisky, and the environment in which whisky barrels spend their many years of maturation. Some highland whiskies are made largely from snow-melt water, and some say that this has a pronounced effect.

“Sometimes the water can be in danger of drying up, and some distilleries have even employed water diviners to help them to find new sources of pure water for making their whisky.

“Some whisky writers argue that whiskies in the casks take flavour from the atmosphere around them, and it is easy to believe this when watching the windswept seas battering the coastlines of the islands on which many single malts are distilled and matured. Battling the elements is part of the romance of the whisky-making story.”

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