Do different types of liquor have different effects on you?

liquor bottles 2Fact or fiction? Physiological or psychological?

What do you think?

I’ve been researching this topic lately and have been thinking about it ever since I got into the booze business.

When you talk to consumers, many have clear cut answers such as, “tequila makes me crazy,” “whiskey makes me angry,” “gin makes me sad, must be the junipers.” My favorite, that I found online, is… “I’m allergic to tequila. Last time I drank it, I broke out in handcuffs.”

Whether in focus groups or with friends, these beliefs are strongly held and generally tied back to a memorable occasion. Usually, it’s based on a particular episode of, ahem, being over-served or the maiden drinking voyage. But, misconceptions play a big role – there is nothing in juniper to lead to sadness and even if there were, the distillation process would eliminate it. Similarly, the agave plant from which mescal is distilled (tequila is a type of mescal) has nothing to do with mescaline.Alcohol is alcohol

Sorry folks, alcohol is alcohol. The differences one experiences from different types of liquor (and alcohol in general) have, in my opinion, little or nothing to do with the liquor itself. There are many other factors at work.

What about the congeners (the substance produced during fermentation of alcoholic beverages)? While red wine and dark spirits have the greatest amount, they are present to different degrees in white spirits. They also are more related to the morning after than getting you to slur, “I love you man” during an evening’s indulgence.

How about the mixers used as a possible explanation for the difference? Tequila is consumed as a shot half the time and with sugar laden margarita mixers the other half – do these play a role? Rum mixed with juices, sugar or cola can affect the impact. Maybe it’s the tonic in your G&T.

I think the culprit is the mood, occasion and situation you are in while drinking. If you’re planning to get hammered, or the situation calls for it, you will. If it’s been a tough day and you’re looking to unwind and mellow, what you choose to drink will have that result.

mixedSo, in effect, it’s in your mind rather than in your glass or bottle.

Here’s something that sums it up. I found it online at io9, a blog by Gawker media:

…The question of whether mixers or congeners affect our experiences with different alcohols seems almost inconsequential; if you wholeheartedly believe that a tequila is your one way ticket to Bedlam, there’s probably not a whole lot that can be said to convince you – or your body – otherwise.

What do you think?


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Organic Booze

I just got back from a trip to LA and my head is spinning with matters having to do with green in general and organic in particular.

I saw the following on a brochure for the Santa Monica aquarium:

“Printed on 100% recycled content, 100% post-consumer waste, processed chlorine free paper using soy-based inks.”

Once I got past the ‘post-consumer waste’ part, I thought, did they expect people to read or eat the brochure? But, these are important matters and we need to pay attention to what is becoming the “green” lifestyle. Including the alcohol industry.

The June issue of Cheers has a cover story on organic drinking. The following tidbit of information caught my eye.

According to the Greenfield, Ma.-based Organic Trade Association, sales of organic beer, wine and spirits were up last year. Organic beer sales totaled $41 million in 2009, up 11.7 percent from 2008; organic wine sales equaled $161 million, up 7.5 percent; and spirits were up 16 percent with $7 million in sales.

A drop in the bucket, sure, but there is a market for organic alcohol products especially in wine. In spirits, it’s the vodka category that leads the way with dozens of entries although Chatham Imports (Crop Organic Vodka) recently introduced Farmer’s Botanical Gin. In tequila, more and more organic products are entering the market.

The gist of the article seems to indicate that the organic trend in alcohol is here to stay.

A consumer friend who is not in the industry can best sum up my view:

“If organic means smoother, purer, better tasting, I’m all for it. But to tell you the truth, when I’m having a drink, I’m not thinking about hugging trees.”

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