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#360

ALTERED CARBON

12 Mar 2018 By

Why Hangover-Free Alcohol Is The Way To Go, And Other Trends Shaping The Future of Drinking.

From My Porter, By Richard Godwin

It’s a funny thing, the future. If you were sitting on a bar stool in 1968, casting ahead to what we’d be drinking in the space year 2018, you probably wouldn’t picture a bunch of hirsute, tattooed men getting really pernickety about an old fashioned (a cocktail invented in the mid-19th century). And you wouldn’t guess that there’d be a newfound love for gin, resulting in more distilleries in London than at any time since the 18th-century gin craze.

But one of my favourite things about booze is precisely that, on the whole, it doesn’t tend to change. Once you’ve distilled something in alcohol, it (theoretically) stays that way for a very long time. Sometimes, the new thing can be the old thing.

However, the world of booze does innovate and evolve. And what we can say is that technology is developing as fast as you can say Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster: virtual reality, robotics and neuroscience will all come to influence the way we drink, as well as climate change. With that in mind, here are five trends shaping the future of drinking.

 

SPIRIT TERROIR

Vineyard in Italy Dellarosa Wine

 

Any oenophile will tell you it’s not just the grape or the region, but sometimes the precise hillside on which the vines were planted that gives any bottle its distinctive taste. It was Mr Tomas Estes’ Tequila Ocho that tipped spirits in that direction, by including age statements and precise field locations on his bottles, and increasingly the large spirits companies, including Belvedere and Wyborowa vodka, are following suit as customers’ tastes become more sophisticated.

“If you do have this grape-to-glass mentality, you will find a difference from year to year,” says Mr William Borrell, who has been putting age statements on his Polish potato Vestal Vodka since 2009. “It’s about sunshine. The amount of sun there is each year is a really important factor, and it does change. And I believe that with different soils, different potato varieties, you get mind-bogglingly different flavours coming off the still.” One difference with wine is that wine continues to evolve: the same vintage will taste different in different years, whereas, with spirits, the vintage is “locked in”. Says Mr Borrell: “Our 2011 is like an eau-de-vie that’s slept with a sake and had an affair with tequila. But it’s still got that creamy potato vodka mouthfeel.”

 

HANGOVER-FREE BOOZE

hangover-free alcohol

From left: Seedlip Spice 94, Pomorze Unfiltered Vestal Vodka, Nyetimber Classic Cuvée.

Hang on. Hangover-free booze. Isn’t that the holy grail? Well, according to Imperial College of London neuropsychopharmacologist Professor David Nutt, it is a grail from which we will all partake as of 2050. Professor Nutt was dismissed from the role of chief drugs adviser to the British government in 2009 for a paper that made the (not inaccurate) claim that LSD and ecstasy are less harmful than alcohol. In recent years, he has been concentrating on the less contentious business of synthesising alcohol that acts directly on your neurotransmitters without any of the toxic side-effects. “It will be there alongside the scotch and the gin,” he explains. “They’ll dispense the alcosynth into your cocktail and then you’ll have the pleasure without damaging your liver and your heart.”

 

INSTANT AGING

rum Bryan Davis

The Lost Spirits Distillery has roots in Silicon Valley and Monterey County – but it’s currently operating out of a sort of alcoholic theme park in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. Back in 2015, the company’s co-founder, Mr Bryan Davis (above), patented a new method for rapidly ageing spirits. Traditionally, if you wanted to make a 20-year-old Navy rum, say, you’d have to wait 20 years. Mr Davis can make a pretty convincing one in six days by running distillate through his bespoke chemical reactor, which forces “oak-catalysed esterification”, creating the same compounds you usually find in well-aged spirits.

“It just seemed like something doable and with a massive benefit and need,” he told Wired magazine. “I didn’t – and still don’t – think the craft spirits movement could survive without someone hacking the process.” Mr Davis’s Islay whisky knock-off, Leviathan, has won a cult following among people who really know their stuff, and his rums are winning multiple spirit awards. With distilleries struggling to cope up with the increased global demand for aged spirits, his contraptions have potential to revolutionise the industry.

ENGLISH WINE

architecture apocalypse

Photo © Pixabay

Miami will be underwater. Bangladesh will disappear. And I hate to break it to you, but Chianti Classico may not survive, either. Climate change will dramatically alter the world’s wine map: an expected rise in temperatures of 2.5 degrees by 2050 could take out about three-quarters of vineyards in Australia and radically alter regions like Bordeaux, Tuscany and California’s Napa Valley.

But there will be new players on the map and England could be the big winner. Champagne houses have been heavily investing in English vineyards: Taittinger has planted vines in Kent, where the chalky soil and mild climate are similar to the Champagne region. And increasingly, the grandest English sparkling wines such as Squerryes, Nyetimber and Chapel Down are excelling on their own terms, while pinot noir also shows promise. By 2100, the country could have transformed. A recent study by wine seller Laithwaites foresees a boom in East England sauvignon blanc, Edinburgh pinot grigio and malbec vines thriving around the River Severn. Provided we’re still in the mood to celebrate by then.

Read the rest at Mr Porter…

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