The Flavor–Chemistry Association

  • Gregory H. Miller


Since whisky can be described as a blend of chemicals, and since each chemical ingredient has its own aroma, it seems reasonable to think that the flavor of whisky is determined by its chemical constitution. This Democritean perspective has been studied by flavor chemists and is the main focus of this chapter. Chapter  9 expands this view by considering the possible role of microscopic structures.


  1. 3.
    Acree TE, Barnard J, Cunningham DG (1984) A procedure for the sensory analysis of gas chomatographic effluents. Food Chem 14:273–286CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 8.
    Adrian ED (1950) Sensory discrimination. Br Med Bull 6:330–333PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 59.
    Baldwin S, Black RA, Andreasen AA, Adams SL (1967) Aromatic congener formation in maturation of alcoholic distillates. J Agric Food Chem 15:381–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 61.
    Bamber D (1975) Area above ordinal dominance graph and area below receiver operating characteristic graph. J Math Psychol 12:387–415CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 77.
    Bemelmans JMH (1979) Review of isolation and concentration techniques. In: Land DG, Nursten HE (eds) Progress in flavour research, Applied Science, Essex, p 79–98Google Scholar
  6. 90.
    Blakeslee AF, Fox AL (1932) Our different taste worlds: P. T. C. as a demonstration of genetic differences in taste. J Hered 23:97–107Google Scholar
  7. 102.
    Boyle JA, Djordjevic J, Olsson MJ, Lundström JN, Jones-Gotman M (2009) The human brain distinguishes between single odorants and binary mixtures. Cereb Cortex 19:66–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 117.
    Brown J (1974) Recognition assessed by rating and ranking. Br J Psychol 65:13–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 129.
    Butkov E (1968) Mathematical physics. Addison-Wesley, ReadingGoogle Scholar
  10. 139.
    Cain WS (1977) Differential sensitivity for smell: “noise” at the nose. Science 195:796–798PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 171.
    Conner J, Reid K, Richardson G (2001) SPME analysis of flavor components in the headspace of Scotch whiskey and their subsequent correlation with sensory perception. In: Leland JV, Schieberle P, Buettner A, Acree TE (eds) Gas chromatography-olfactometry, American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, p 113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 193.
    Crisinel A-S, Spence C (2010) As bitter as a trombone: synesthetic correspondences in nonsynesthetes between tastes/flavors and musical notes. Atten Percept Psychophys 72:1994–2002PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 194.
    Crisinel A-S, Cosser S, King S, Jones R, Petrie J, Spence C (2012) A bittersweet symphony: systematically modulating the taste of food by changing the sonic properties of the soundtrack playing in the background. Food Qual Prefer 24:201–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 218.
    Demyttenaere JCR, Sánchez Martínez JK, Verhé R, Sandra P, De Kimpe N (2003) Analysis of volatiles of malt whisky by solid-phase microextraction and stir bath bar sorptive extraction. J Chromatogr A 985:221–232PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 229.
    Diaz M (2004) Comparison between orthonasal and retronasal flavor perception at different concentrations. Flavour Fragr J 19:499–504CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 240.
    Duncan REB, Philip JM (1966) Methods for the analysis of Scotch whisky. J Sci Food Agric 17:208–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 248.
    Engel W, Bahr W, Schieberle P (1999) Solvent assisted flavour evaporation – a new and versatile technique for the careful and direct isolation of aroma compounds from complex food matrices. Eur Food Res Technol 209:237–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 267.
    Fisher R (1925) Statistical methods for research workers. Oliver and Boyd, EdinburghGoogle Scholar
  19. 301.
    Goldstein R, Almenberg J, Dreber A, Emerson JW, Herschkowitsch A, Katz J (2008) Do more expensive wines taste better? Evidence from a large sample of blind tastings. J Wine Econ 3:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 308.
    Green DM, Moses FL (1966) On the equivalence of two recognition measures of short-term memory. Psychol Bull 66:228–234PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 312.
    Grosch W (1993) Detection of potent odorants in foods by aroma extract dilution analysis. Trends Food Sci Technol 4:68–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 313.
    Gross-Isseroff R, Lancet D (1988) Concentration-dependent changes of perceived odor quality. Chem Senses 13:191–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 315.
    Guadagni DG, Miers JC, Venstrom DW (1969) Concentration effect on odor addition or synergism in mixtures of methyl sulfide and tomato juice. J Food Sci 34:630–632CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 357.
    Hose LP, Piggott JR (1980) Descriptive sensory analysis of Scotch whisky. In: van der Starre H (ed) Proceedings of the seventh international symposium on olfaction and taste. IRL Press, Washington, DC, p 449–450Google Scholar
  25. 364.
    Howie D, Swan JS (1984) Compounds influencing peatiness in Scotch malt whisky flavour. In: Nykänen L, Lehtonen P (eds) Proceedings of the Alko symposium on flavour research of alcoholic beverages. Helsinki, Foundation for Biotechnical and Industrial Fermentation Research, Helsinki, p 279–290Google Scholar
  26. 385.
    Jaeger SR, McRae JF, Bava CM, Beresford MK, Hunter D, Jia Y, Chheang SL, Jin D, Peng M, Gamble JC, Atkinson KR, Axten LG, Paisley AG, Tooman L, Pineau B, Rouse SA, Newcomb RD (2013) A Mendelian trait for olfactory sensitivity affects odor experience and food selection. Curr Biol 23:1601–1605PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 400.
    Jounela-Eriksson P (1981) Predictive value of sensory and analytical data for distilled beverages. In: Schreier P (ed) Flavour ‘81: Third Weurman symposium. de Gruyter, New York, p 145–164Google Scholar
  28. 401.
    Jounela-Eriksson P, Lehtonen M (1981) Phenols in the aroma of distilled beverages. In: Charalambous G, Inglett GE (eds) The quality of foods and beverages: chemistry and technology, vol 1. Academic, New York, p 167–181CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 405.
    Kahn JH (1969) Compounds identified in whisky, wine, and beer: a tabulation. J Assoc Off Anal Chem 52:1166–1178Google Scholar
  30. 406.
    Kahn JH, LaRoe EG, Conner HA (1968) Whiskey composition: identification of components by single-pass gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Food Sci 33:395–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 408.
    Kahn JH, Shipley PA, LaRoe EG, Conner HA (1969) Whiskey composition: identification of additional components by single-pass gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Food Sci 34:587–591CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 434.
    Lahne J (2010) Aroma characterization of American rye whiskey by chemical and sensory assays. Master’s thesis, University of Illinois Urbana-ChampaignGoogle Scholar
  33. 435.
    Lahne J, Collins TS, Heymann H (2016) Replication improves sorting-task results analyzed by DISTATIS in a consumer study of American bourbon and rye whiskeys. J Food Sci 81:S1263–S1271PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  34. 436.
    Lahne J, Abdi H, Collins T, Heymann H (2019) Bourbon and rye whiskeys are legally distinct but are not discriminated by sensory descriptive analysis. J Food Sci 84:629–639PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. 442.
    LaRoe EG, Shipley PA (1970) Whiskey composition: formation of alpha– and beta ionone by the thermal decomposition of beta-carotene. J Agric Food Chem 18:174–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 443.
    Lawless HT, Heymann H (2010) Sensory evaluation of food, 2nd edn. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 448.
    Lee K-YM, Paterson A, Piggott JR, Richardson GD (2001) Origins of flavour in whiskies and a revised flavour wheel: a review. J Inst Brew 107:287–313CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 449.
    Lehtonen M (1982) Phenols in whisky. Chromatographia 16:201–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 451.
    Lehtonen M (1983) High performance liquid chromatographic determination of nonvolatile phenolic compounds in matured distilled alcoholic beverages. J Assoc Off Anal Chem 66:71–78Google Scholar
  40. 454.
    Lehtonen P (1984) Liquid chromatographic determination of phenolic aldehydes from distilled alcoholic beverages. In: Nykänen L, Lehtonen P (eds) Proceedings of the Alko symposium on flavour research of alcoholic beverages. Helsinki, Foundation for Biotechnical and Industrial Fermentation Research, Helsinki, p 121–130Google Scholar
  41. 481.
    MacNamara K, Brunerie P, Squarcia F, Rozenblum A (1995) Investigation of flavour compounds in whisky spent lees. In: Charalambous G (ed) Food flavors: generation, analysis and process influence. Elsevier, New York, p 1753–1766CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 482.
    MacNamara K, van Wyk CJ, Augustyn OPH, Rapp A (2001) Flavour components of whiskey. I. Distribution and recovery of compounds by fractional vacuum distillation. S Afr J Enol Vitic 22:69–74Google Scholar
  43. 485.
    MacNamara K, Dabrowska D, Baden M, Helle N (2011) Advances in the ageing chemistry of distilled spirits matured in oak barrels. LC-GC Europe, p 448–466Google Scholar
  44. 488.
    Maga JA (1984) Flavour contribution of wood in alcoholic beverages. In: Adda J (ed) Proceedings of the 3rd Weurman flavour research symposium. Dourdan, France, Elsevier, Amsterdam, p 409–416Google Scholar
  45. 493.
    Mainland JD, Keller A, Li YR, Zhou T, Trimmer C, Snyder LL, Moberly AH, Adipietro KA, Liu WLL, Zhuang H, Zhan S, Lee SS, Lin A, Matsunami H (2014) The missense of smell: functional variability in the human odorant receptor repertoire. Nat Neurosci 17:114–120PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 494.
    Majid A, Burnehult N (2014) Odors are expressible in language, as long as you speak the right language. Cognition 130:266–270PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 511.
    Masuda M, Nishimura K (1980) Occurrence and formation of damascenone in alcoholic beverages. J Food Sci 45:396–397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 512.
    Masuda M, Nishimura K (1981) Changes in volatile sulfur compounds of whisky during aging. J Food Sci 47:101–105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 525.
    McRae JF, Jaeger SR, Bava CM, Beresford MK, Hunter D, Jia Y, Chheang SL, Jin D, Peng M, Gamble JC, Atkinson KR, Axten LG, Paisley AG, Williams L, Tooman L, Pineau B, Rouse SA, Newcomb RD (2013) Identification of regions associated with variation in sensitivity to food-related odors in the human genome. Curr Biol 23:1596–1600PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 529.
    Meilgaard MC, Dalgliesh CE, Clapperton JF (1979) Beer flavour terminology. J Inst Brew 85:38–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 536.
    Michel C, Velasco C, Spence C (2015) Cutlery matters: heavy cutlery enhances diners’ enjoyment of the food served in a realistic dining environment. Flavour 4:26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 548.
    Morrot G, Brochet F, Dubourdieu D (2001) The color of odors. Brain Lang 79:309–320PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 553.
    Mozell MM (1964) Evidence for sorption as a mechanism of the olfactory analysis of vapours. Nature 203:1181–1182PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 555.
    Mozell MM, Jagodowicz M (1973) Chromatographic separation of odorants by the nose: retention times measured across in vivo olfactory mucosa. Science 181:1247–1249PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 556.
    Mozell MM, Kent PF, Murphy SJ (1991) The effect of flow rate upon the magnitude of the olfactory response differs for different odorants. Chem Senses 16:631–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 572.
    Newcomb RD, Xia MB, Reed DR (2012) Heritable differences in chemosensory ability among humans. Flavour 1:9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. 580.
    Nishimura K, Masuda M (1971) Minor constituents of whisky fusel oils 1. Basic, phenolic, and lactonic compounds. J Food Sci 36:819–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. 584.
    Noble AC (1994) Wine flavour. In: Piggott JR, Paterson A (eds) Understanding natural flavors. Blackie, Glasgow, p 228–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 593.
    Nykänen L (1986) Formation and occurrence of flavour compounds in wine and distilled beverages. Am J Enol Vitic 37:84–96Google Scholar
  60. 595.
    Nykänen L, Suomalainen H (1963) The aroma compounds of alcoholic beverages. Teknillisen Kemian Aikak 20:789–795Google Scholar
  61. 597.
    Nykänen L, Puputti E, Suomalainen H (1968) Volatile fatty acids in some brands of whisky, Cognac, and rum. J Food Sci 33:88–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. 604.
    Ömür-Özbek P, Dietrich AM (2008) Developing hexanal as an odor reference standard for sensory analysis of drinking water. Water Res 42:2598–2604PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 610.
    Ostsuka K, Zenibayashi Y, Itoh M, Totsuka A (1974) Presence and significance of two diasteromers of β-methyl-γ-octalactone in aged distilled spirits. Agric Biol Chem 38:485–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 636.
    Perry DR (1989) Odor intensities of whisky compounds. In: Piggott JR, Paterson A (eds) Distilled beverage flavour. Ellis Horwood, Chichester, p 200–207Google Scholar
  65. 644.
    Piggott JR (1991) Selection of terms for descriptive analysis. In: Lawless HT, Klein BP (eds) Sensory science theory and applications. M. Dekker, New York, p 339–351Google Scholar
  66. 645.
    Piggott JR, Canaway PR (1981) Finding the word for it—methods and uses of descriptive sensory analysis. In: Schreier P (ed) Flavour ‘81: 3rd Weurman symposium. de Gruyter, New York, p 33–46Google Scholar
  67. 647.
    Piggott JR, Findlay AJF (1984) Detection thresholds of ester mixtures. In: Nykänen L, Lehtonen P (eds) Proceedings of the Alko symposium on flavour research of alcoholic beverages. Helsinki, Foundation for Biotechnical and Industrial Fermentation Research, Helsinki, p 189–197Google Scholar
  68. 648.
    Piggott JR, Jardine SP (1979) Descriptive sensory analysis of whisky flavour. J Inst Brew 85:82–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 655.
    Plassmann H, O’Doherty J, Shiv B, Rangel A (2008) Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:1050–1054PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 656.
    Poisson L (2003) Charakterisierung der Schlüsselaromastoffe in amerikanischem Bourbon Whisky und schottishchem Single Malt Whisky. PhD thesis, Technischen Universität MünchenGoogle Scholar
  71. 657.
    Poisson L, Schieberle P (2008) Characterization of the most odor-active compounds in an American bourbon whisky by application of the aroma extract dilution analysis. J Agric Food Chem 56:5813–5819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. 658.
    Poisson L, Schieberle P (2008) Characterization of the key aroma compounds in an American bourbon whisky by quantitative measurements, aroma recombination, and omission studies. J Agric Food Chem 56:5820–5826PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. 690.
    Reed DR, Tanaka T, McDaniel AH (2006) Diverse tastes: genetics of sweet and bitter perception. Physiol Behav 88:215–226PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. 705.
    Roessler EB, Warren J, Guymon JF (1948) Significance in triangular taste tests. J Food Sci 13:503–505CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. 712.
    Rowe D (2000) More fizz for your buck: high impact aroma chemicals. Perfumer Flavorist 25(5):1–19Google Scholar
  76. 724.
    Sánchez-López JA, Ziere A, Martins SIFS, Zimmermann R, Yeretzian C (2016) Persistence of aroma volatiles in the oral and nasal cavities: real-time monitoring of decay rate in air exhaled through the nose and mouth. J Breath Res 10:036005PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. 737.
    Schieberle P (1995) New developments in methods for analysis of volatile flavor compounds and their precursors. In: Goankar AG (ed) Characterization of food: emerging methods. Elsevier, New York, p 403–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. 745.
    Selfridge TB, Amerine MA (1978) Odor thresholds and interactions of ethyl acetate and diacetyl in an artificial wine medium. Am J Enol Viticult 29:1–6Google Scholar
  79. 752.
    Shortreed GW, Rickards P, Swan JS, Burtles SM (1979) The flavour terminology of Scotch whisky. Brewers’ Guardian 108:55, 57, 59, 61–62Google Scholar
  80. 753.
    Siegrist M, Cousin M-E (2009) Expectations influence sensory experience in a wine tasting. Appetite 52:762–765PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. 755.
    Silver WL, Maruniak JA (1981) Trigeminal chemoreception in the nasal and oral cavities. Chem Senses 6:295–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. 772.
    Spence C (2016) Oral referral: on the mislocation of odours to the mouth. Food Qual Prefer 50:117–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. 773.
    Spence C (2017) Gastrophysics: the new science of eating. Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  84. 774.
    Spence C, Wan X (2015) Beverage perception and consumption: the influence of the container on the perception of the contents. Food Qual Perfer 39:131–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. 775.
    Spence C, Levitan CA, Shankar MU, Zampini M (2010) Does food color influence taste and flavor perception in humans? Chem Percept 3:68–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  86. 781.
    Steinke RD, Paulson MC (1964) Phenols from grain. The production of steam-volatile phenols during the cooking and alcoholic fermentation of grain. J Agric Food Chem 12:381–387Google Scholar
  87. 789.
    Suomalainen H, Nykänen L (1970) Composition of whisky flavour. Proc Biochem 5(7):13–18Google Scholar
  88. 790.
    Suomalainen H, Nykänen L (1970) Investigations on the aroma of alcoholic beverages. Naeringsmiddelindustrien 23:15–30Google Scholar
  89. 793.
    Swan JS, Howie D, Burtles SM, Williams AA, Lewis MJ (1981) Sensory and instrumental studies of Scotch whisky flavour. In: Charalambous G, Inglett GE (eds) The quality of foods and beverages: chemistry and technology, vol 1. Academic, New York, p 201–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. 804.
    ter Heide R (1982) Advances in the knowledge of alcoholic beverages. In: Adda J (ed) Colloque international sur les aromes alimentaires. Proceedings of the international symposium on food flavors. Lavoisier, Paris, p 27–45Google Scholar
  91. 846.
    van Deemter JJ, Zuiderweg FJ, Klinkenberg A (1956) Longitudinal diffusion and resistance to mass transfer as causes of nonideality in chromatography. Chem Eng Sci 5:271–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  92. 852.
    Velasco C, Jones R, King S, Spence C (2013) Assessing the influence of the multisensory environment on the whisky drinking experience. Flavour 2:23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  93. 859.
    Vuilleumier C, Cayeux I, Velazco MI (2002) Dose-response curves of odor and taste stimuli: influence of sweetening agents. In: Given P, Paredes D (eds) Chemistry of taste. American Chemical Society, Washington, p 140–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. 867.
    Wanikawa A, Hosoi K, Takise I, Kato T (2000) Detection of γ-lactones in malt whisky. J Inst Brew 106:39–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. 868.
    Wanikawa A, Hosoi K, Shoji H, Nakagawa K-I (2001) Estimation of the distribution of enantiomers of γ-decalactone and γ-dodecalactone in malt whisky. J Inst Brew 107:253–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. 869.
    Wanikawa A, Hosoi K, Kato T, Nakagawa K-I (2002) Identification of green note compounds in malt whisky using multidimensional gas chromatography. Flavour Fragr J 17:207–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. 888.
    Wilkes FJ, Laing DG, Hutchinson I, Jinks AL, Monteleone E (2009) Temporal processing of olfactory stimuli during retronasal perception. Behav Brain Res 200:68–75PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. 914.
    Yoemans MR, Chambers L, Blumenthal H, Blake A (2008) The role of expectancy in sensory and hedonic evaluation: the case of smoked salmon ice-cream. Food Qual Prefer 19:565–573CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory H. Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, Professor of Chemical EngineeringDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations