Better Drinking Through Science

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Historical Liquor

This is perhaps the neatest drinking story of 2020: Distiller using molecular science to hack the chemical codes of aged spirits and recreate them.

They’re bringing back bottles that, today, costs thousands of dollars, if you can even find them, and making them available at retail prices. So, for instance, they can create Old Medford Rum, which was “once America’s most beloved alcoholic beverage, purportedly sipped by Paul Revere on his epic ride in 1775.”

The distillers refer to themselves as “serious booze nerds,” and they’re right. At times, I wanted to roll my eyes and tell these folks to get a life, that they’re taking their craft way too far, that they sound like the craft beer nerds who took one of the neatest revolutions in brewing history and turned it into a nauseating exercise in snobbery.

But they’re the ones who now hold lucrative patents, and Silicon Valley money is flowing freely in their direction. We should all be so lacking in a life.

So, check it out, especially if you’re interested in the art of distilling.

One word of caution: In my (oh so) humble opinion, the story suffers from what Hemingway called “overwriting.” The prose would be splendid if it weren’t so, well, splendid. Excessive use of adjectives, references to visuals that can’t be visualized but sound neat (“a still whose copper pipes snaked through what appeared to be the Ark of the Covenant”), ornate descriptions that feature the writer more than the description. For some reason, it really jarred me, so if you’re sensitive to narcissistic writing (is there any other?), you’ve been warned. I would note, incidentally, that the writer is widely-published in some of the finest literary publications, plus he has written six books, so take my criticism with the salt grain.