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Shaken, and Not Stirred But What About the Clathrates? [differences in vodkas explored]
University of Cincinnati ^ | 6/14/2010 | Dale W. Schaefer

Posted on 06/15/2010 7:34:10 AM PDT by Pharmboy

A UC researcher proposes that taste is in the tongue of the beholder when it comes to vodka.

Photos By: Ashley Kempher, photojournalist; video by Jay Yocis

University of Cincinnati Professor Dale W. Schaefer, in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department of UC's College of Engineering and Applied Science, is part of an international team of scientists studying to see if there is a scientific way to measure structure in vodkas. UC collaborated with scientists from Moscow State University.

Since vodkas are 60 percent pure water and 40 percent pure ethanol (ethyl alcohol), many people conclude that vodkas are uniformly tasteless. As reported recently in the "Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry," the researchers found that vodkas differ in their physical structure, which could lead to perceptible differences in taste.

One vodka martini, please, with an extra shot of clathrates.

“Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling proposed that the narcotic effect might be due to the formation of crystals called ‘clathrate hydrates’ in the brain. I think that idea is wrong, but we propose a cage-like hydrogen-bonded structure, which is a liquid analogue of a clathrate,” says Schaefer. “Water alcohol mixtures are known to form clathrate hydrates below -80 degrees C, which is why we proposed a transient cage-like structure in the liquid at room temperature.”

Schaefer posited that the structures were responsible for variation in taste. The team then tested five vodkas: Skyy, Belvedere, Stolichnaya, Grey Goose and Oval. They found that vodkas differ in the prevalence of the cage-like structure. Computer simulations by Schaefer's group show that trace impurities control the structure.

Still, Schaefer says that it takes a discerning taste to distinguish between vodkas.

“It is likely that less than 50 percent of the population can distinguish one vodka from another,” he says. “Our findings could only apply to the 50 percent who can distinguish. As Walter Lippman said, ‘The music means nothing if the audience is deaf.’ Some even claim there is a genetic component to alcohol perception."

The next step is to test the hypothesis in the paper by testing subjects with the ability to distinguish brands in blind taste tests. At present there is no more funding for the project now.

“So until we get more funding, we are no longer players,” says Schaefer.

Much of the analysis was done by two post-docs: Dan Wu, now at Dow AgriChemicals, and Naiping Hu, who is still in Schaefer’s group. Master’s student Kelly Cross also worked on the project.

The Moscow team was led by Svetlana Patsaeva, whose father was Viktor Patsayev, a Soviet cosmonaut who was killed in the Soyuz 11 disaster.

By the way, Ian Fleming’s James Bond had another preference: he always preferred Russian or Polish vodkas if they were available. Schaefer’s researchers would be happy to know that.


TOPICS: Food; Science
KEYWORDS: alcohol; cocktails; jpb; vodka
Nice to see the Bearcats doing some worthwhile research...I, for one, only drink gin martinis, as vodka makes me mean. Never drink it...
1 posted on 06/15/2010 7:34:10 AM PDT by Pharmboy
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To: neverdem; thefactor; SunkenCiv; Coleus; aculeus

Clink ping...


2 posted on 06/15/2010 7:35:06 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy

During my years of ‘research’, I determined that the cheapsest vodka worked just as well as the most expensive in every way, including taste-wise...Sure would like to get reimbursed for all those experiment expenses...


3 posted on 06/15/2010 7:40:58 AM PDT by ArtDodger (Reread Animal Farm (with your kids))
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To: ArtDodger
Well, controlled research tends to bear yours out. A few years ago (as reported in the Wall St Journal) a fancy brand (I think it was Grey Goose, but might have been Ketel One) held a vodka tasting in NYC. They were quite embarrassed when the generic got as many votes as theirs.

It's all marketing...

4 posted on 06/15/2010 7:44:27 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy


5 posted on 06/15/2010 7:47:07 AM PDT by JoeProBono (A closed mouth gathers no feet)
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To: ArtDodger
I determined that the cheapsest vodka worked just as well as the most expensive in every way, including taste-wise..

I agree to a point...Everything from Smirnoff on up is just about the same but the cheap vodkas taste awful.

6 posted on 06/15/2010 7:48:43 AM PDT by Malsua
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To: JoeProBono

Thanks, Joe, there’s no one better than you at finding relevant, funny and/or obscure graphics for our threads.


7 posted on 06/15/2010 7:49:58 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy
Stoli is my first choice. Then Kettle or Goose.

Absolut makes me gag, absolutely.

8 posted on 06/15/2010 7:54:03 AM PDT by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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To: Pharmboy

I maintain that there is by definition no such thing as a “vodka martini.” That is like ordering a whiskey sour and telling the bartender to substitute rum for bourbon.

It cannot be done.


9 posted on 06/15/2010 7:57:38 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: Pharmboy

bookmark


10 posted on 06/15/2010 7:59:44 AM PDT by Artemis Webb (DeMint 2012)
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To: ArtDodger

During my years of ‘research’, I determined that the cheapsest vodka worked just as well as the most expensive in every way, including taste-wise...Sure would like to get reimbursed for all those experiment expenses...

<><><><><><

I am continuing the research, and have determined that the cheap stuff tears my stomach up where the better brands do not.


11 posted on 06/15/2010 8:00:54 AM PDT by dmz
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To: Malsua
I must be weird because i can definitely taste the difference in Skyy, Grey Goose, Ketel One, Smirnoff and some other vodkas, well at least for the first couple of martinis. I prefer Tito's, Dripping Springs, and Absolute because they have the least taste, which makes no sense I guess, especially since I also drink Scotch which is all about variations in taste. BTW Bond asked for his Martinis to be shaken not stirred because stirred was the accepted way of making Martinis until he changed that. The vodka is supposed to be clear as water, and taste like water IMHO but be very cold. That's why a martini glass has a long stem like a Chablis glass to keep the heat from your hand away from the vodka.
12 posted on 06/15/2010 8:08:29 AM PDT by dblshot (Insanity - electing the same people over and over and expecting different results.)
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To: dmz; ArtDodger
Our own little taste test between Grey Goose, Absolut, and the cheap brand Svedka, proved the following:

Most thought Absolut was the cheap brand (It really is a horrid Vodka), and Svedka was found to have the smoothest taste and was mistaken by most to be Grey Goose.

Since then, I keep a bottle of Svedka in the cabinet. It's $15 for a large bottle compared to the price of Goose and people thought it tasted better or at least as good as Goose.

I was a bartender for 7 years in a previous life. So I have a bit of experience to go on here..

13 posted on 06/15/2010 8:11:30 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: abb

Ha...you won’t get any argument from ME, friend. Of all my friends, there’s only two who drink the real thing, and I have told the rest that vodka is not part of a martini. It’s chilled vodka, straight up, or with some dry vermouth.


14 posted on 06/15/2010 8:11:42 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Malsua
but the cheap vodkas taste awful

When I was in college, we'd occasionally, erm, "liberate" new charcoal water filters from the lab.

Then, we'd run the super cheap vodka (Orloff? Fleishmann's? I remember that it was $2.99/liter) through the filters a few times to remove the impurities. End product actually wound up tasting pretty good. Of course, I also would get bombed on 40-below Apple Bounce, and Milwaukee's Best, so it's not like I had much of a refined palette.

I'd imagine that you could do the same with cheap vodka and a Brita filter, nowadays.

15 posted on 06/15/2010 8:15:22 AM PDT by wbill
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To: dblshot

Martinis should be stirred, not shaken, because shaking introduces oxygen into the gin, and the oxygen reacts with some of the botanicals to produce a bitter or sour taste, “bruising” the gin.


16 posted on 06/15/2010 8:46:57 AM PDT by VanShuyten ("a shadow...draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence.")
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To: lovecraft

I gave up beer (mostly) for vodka a few years back. Bounced around the brands, until I encountered Svedka. Great price point, and it doesn’t make me hurt the way the real cheap stuff does.

Haven’t bought anything else since.


17 posted on 06/15/2010 8:55:33 AM PDT by dmz
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To: Pharmboy

To be absolutely correct, I don’t drink the classic martini with an approximate 3:1 gin/vermouth ratio.

Mine is more properly called a “Montgomery,” with a 15:1 ratio. It is so named for Monty’s preferred ratio of his troop strength vs his opponent, prior to battle.


18 posted on 06/15/2010 8:56:00 AM PDT by abb ("What ISN'T in the news is often more important than what IS." Ed Biersmith, 1942 -)
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To: lovecraft

When my wife wants the occasional Smith & Wesson (the drink, not the weapon), we use Monarch vodka. When doing a drink like an S&W, the cheap ($5.95 a bottle) Monarch has no discernible difference from a more expensive brand.

Last night, my dad told us about a ‘double-chocolate’ flavored vodka from a company called called Vodka360. They also make a cola-flavored vodka. The idea SOUNDS good, but the website touts the company as being ‘green’ and ‘eco-friendly’. I’m not sure I’d want to give my money to such an obviously liberal company.


19 posted on 06/15/2010 8:57:14 AM PDT by hoagy62 (.)
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To: Pharmboy
Gin for martinis for me, too. (I regard calling anything other than gin and dry vermouth with an olive or a twist of lemon a "martini" as an abominable abuse of language.)

But, vodka doesn't make me mean, and I can tell the difference between vodkas--served as they should be, straight, ice cold. For years my freezer was graced with a bottle of kosher Polish vodka made in Łódź, a gift from some Polish mathematical physicists who attended a conference I organized. Really good vodka! A Russian colleague had some at a department party I held at my house before the bottle was finally finished. His eyes got big, and he exclaimed "That's good!!!"

20 posted on 06/15/2010 8:57:20 AM PDT by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know. . .)
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To: abb

Hmmm...I will try that. I usually use a 4:1.


21 posted on 06/15/2010 9:01:24 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: dmz
Haven’t bought anything else since.

Yup and even your most discriminating Vodka drinker should be pleased. Even Tito's uses the same ethanol that every other Vodka starts with. The only differences is how you choose to filter and cut it with water and the type of filtration and water used (spring, tap, etc.).

Modern Vodka truly is just a marketing game nowadays.

22 posted on 06/15/2010 9:02:55 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: Pharmboy

(Sigh) I never “got” martinis even though I lived through their heyday.


23 posted on 06/15/2010 9:05:09 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: VanShuyten

I’ve been bruised by gin myself. I prefer vodka to gin because there can be a lot of botanicals in gin. Juniper berries were introduced to cover up the bad taste of gin but it doesn’t help much. A Tanquery once in while isn’t too bad but cheap gin-no way!


24 posted on 06/15/2010 9:06:10 AM PDT by dblshot (Insanity - electing the same people over and over and expecting different results.)
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To: hoagy62
All Vodka is the same, the differences only come in the filtration, water, and marketing. And primarily it's the marketing. Now I don't prefer the real CHEAP stuff as it is not filtered enough to remove the impurities and to smooth out the taste. Monarch and Popov can do a number on your stomach, at least it has on mine. :)

But I wouldn't spend over $15 or $20 bucks on a large bottle either. All your paying for there is a high end marketing program. Try the Svedka...trust me.

25 posted on 06/15/2010 9:08:30 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: Pharmboy
I love cocktails with vodka! But, having said that, I can no longer drink cheap bar rail vodka. A few years ago I noticed that sometimes after drinking just one vodka drink, I would get horrendous, brain crushing headaches. For me this was unusual, because except for the occasional sinus headaches I NEVER get them.

A friend of mine told me they had heard that cheap vodka sometimes contains impurities that give people headaches, and that I should try a premium brand. I thought it was silly, but to tell the truth, except for a casino in Las Vegas that obviously didn't give me the brand I asked for (complimentary of course), I have never had another vodka headache.

26 posted on 06/15/2010 9:09:56 AM PDT by codercpc
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To: lovecraft

Since I live in Washington State, THEY sell all the hard liquor. I don’t recall ever seeing Svedka on sale there, but I’ll look next time.


27 posted on 06/15/2010 9:12:47 AM PDT by hoagy62 (.)
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To: hoagy62

It’s Swedish, and has gotten pretty popular, so you shouldn’t have trouble.


28 posted on 06/15/2010 9:26:13 AM PDT by lovecraft (Specialization is for insects.)
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To: Pharmboy
The United Colors of Vodka

A new fashion spreads across some Russian vodka consumers - why drink dull colorless vodka if you can drink colorful liquid made of some “Skittles” sweets and the fire-water.

29 posted on 06/15/2010 9:26:56 AM PDT by Daffynition ("Play it, Sam, for old times' sake, play 'As Time Goes By'.")
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To: ArtDodger
During my years of ‘research’, I determined that the cheapsest vodka worked just as well as the most expensive in every way, including taste-wise...Sure would like to get reimbursed for all those experiment expenses...

try Stolichnaya Gold and get back to me on that opinion

.

30 posted on 06/15/2010 9:50:58 AM PDT by Elle Bee
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To: Pharmboy

Thanks Pharmboy


31 posted on 06/15/2010 10:57:57 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Pharmboy

:’)


32 posted on 06/15/2010 4:31:09 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ("Fools learn from experience. I prefer to learn from the experience of others." -- Otto von Bismarck)
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To: wbill

That’s a pretty good idea...running the cheaper spirits through a Brita. Must try that some time.


33 posted on 06/15/2010 4:50:15 PM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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To: Pharmboy
Remember that I was a starving college student, and back then, I would drink it, if it didn't kill me first. Now that I'm older, wiser, and only drink a bottle or two a year.....I don't bother with the cheap stuff. (...thinking of "Georgia Moon" and shuddering...)

I've not tried "filtering" since my younger and more foolish days. Lemme know how it goes. :-)

34 posted on 06/16/2010 6:20:28 AM PDT by wbill
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To: abb
Mine is more properly called a “Montgomery,” with a 15:1 ratio.

You and my Grandfather would have gotten along just fine. He taught me how to make a properly DRY Martini....

Pour a generous tumbler of Gin. Garnish with an olive, or a twist of lemon, depending on your mood. Then, take a bottle of Vermouth and set it on a shelf. Look at the bottle of Vermouth, while drinking the Gin.

THAT'S a dry martini. :-)

35 posted on 06/16/2010 6:27:00 AM PDT by wbill
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To: wbill; abb
I hate to sound like a professor here, but the "dry" in martini, although it has come to symbolize a minimum of vermouth, does not mean that at all. In the early days, martinis were made with dry and sweet vermouth, and the dry signified an absence of sweet in what you ordered.

Personally, I like what a bit of dry vermouth does to the gin, and that is after all, a martini. Otherwise, it's iced gin, and if you like that, no problem, but it ain't a martini.

And just for completeness sake, some classicists insist that without a dash of orange bitters it's not a real martini.

36 posted on 06/16/2010 7:13:22 AM PDT by Pharmboy (The Stone Age did not end because they ran out of stones...)
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