Whisky Science pp 323-365 | Cite as

The Spirit Matrix

  • Gregory H. Miller


The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the properties of whisky from a chemical physics point of view. Although our common experience leads us to think of water and ethanol as two perfectly compatible liquids, in fact they make a highly nonideal solution. The microscopic structure of this solution, sometimes referred to as the ‘spirit matrix’, is thought to have significant influence over congener solubility, mouth feel, and the mechanism of ‘mellowing’ with age. While sensory studies associated with the spirit matrix are relatively few, the literature on ethanol–water structures is quite large. This is because of the happy circumstance that ethanol is an amphiphile: it has a hydrophilic hydroxyl group, and a hydrophobic aliphatic end.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

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

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