Whisky and music

For many connoisseurs, whisky and music belong together. Of course, both are there to be enjoyed, both are forms of art and of course both are often found together. Think of a cosy evening in the pub or a meeting with friends while enjoying a good drop of single malt or bourbon and listening to atmospheric music. In a way, music and whisky also influence each other. You know how it is: music can trigger all kinds of emotions in us humans - from joy to sentimentality to sadness. Mood is also decisive when it comes to enjoyment. Depending on the situation and mood, whisky tastes better or less good. There is also a connection the other way round: many musicians and bands are such big whisky fans that they put their own bottlings on the market.

Musicians make whisky

The musical and aromatic spectrum among these whiskies is wide. It ranges from hip hop to hard rock and from single malt to rye. Many well-known musicians and bands have developed their own whisky in collaboration with distilleries. One of them is none other than Bob Dylan. The whiskeys are named after his big hit 'Knocking on Heaven's Door' from 1973. The bottle design of the Heaven's Door whiskeys shows the welded iron gate that Bob Dylan made in his studio Black Buffalo Ironworks. The range includes a Straight Bourbon, a Straight Rye and the Double Barrel bottling, which is matured in heavily toasted oak barrels before and after blending. After a long time without a concrete statement about the place of production of Heaven's Door Whiskeys, they built their own distillery in the old town of Nashville in 2020. Fans of the nu metal band Slipknot are used to harder sounds. Together with the Iowa-based distillery Cedar Ridge, the band's founder Shawn 'Clown' Crahan, who is also from Iowa, developed Whiskey No. 9. With its high corn content, the whiskey is softer than the band's hard sounds. The London band Motörhead moved in a similarly rocking genre. The "legend" singer and bassist Lemmy Kilmister died in December 2015. As a tribute to Lemmy and the band, the Swedish distillery Mackmyra developed the single malt Motörhead. With its finish in sherry casks, the whisky is fruity, nutty and spicy. This is not the only band whisky from Mackmyra. In collaboration with the German 80s hard rock band Scorpions, the Swedes developed the malt Rock'n'Roll Star. The barrels for its finish were previously filled with German cherry wine, giving it its berry aroma of dried fruits and roasted nuts. It's not only rockers who like whisky, but also rappers: Canadian hip hop mogul Drake fulfilled his dream of his own Virginia Black whisky in collaboration with spirits producer Brent Hocking. The makers wanted to do away with the old cliché of the 'whiskey-drinking cowboy' and emphasise the interplay between whiskey and black music. The Virginia Black Whiskey tastes as luscious as its golden bling-bling bottle design suggests.

Music makes whisky

So musicians can shape whisky, but can music also shape whisky? Over the years, there have been some experiments to get to the bottom of this question. In the case of American BlackenedWhiskey, the barrels are played music by the metal band Metallica during the maturation process. Each batch is given its own playlist, selected and arranged by the band members themselves. The music played causes the whiskey to move inside the barrel and interact with the oak. The movement and extent of interaction depend on the songs selected, so variation in the music creates nuances from one batch to the next. Another study experimented with whether the music played affected the enjoyment and taste of whisky. There have been several studies in the past that looked at the relationship between music and food. For example, fast-food restaurants like McDonald's play upbeat music in their establishments because it has been shown to speed up eating, so that diners leave more quickly and tables are cleared faster. Clever, isn't it? But it's not just fast food restaurants that use this trick. In an experiment in the 90s, guests in a fish restaurant rated oysters as more intense and saltier if the sound of the sea was played to them while they ate. The connection between wine and music has also been studied. But what about whisky?

In a London jazz bar there were experiments with Glenrothes whisky and music. The event was supposed to be a "scything" of whisky and music, combining tastes and sounds. The hypothesis: the two receptors together attract greater brain attention and influence the taste of the whiskies. The reasoning: Melody, tempo and pitch of the music played could change how one perceives the whisky. For this purpose, the whisky and music fans tasted Glenrothes 1988 accompanied by three jazz songs: Mood Indigo, a very slow and melancholy song by Andy and the Bey Sisters, Tiger Rag, a swinging guitar track by Django Reinhardt, and finally Blue Pepper, a trumpet-heavy piece by jazz legend Duke Ellington. Although results of the study have never been published, it remains an exciting experiment. Participants reported perceiving different nuances of taste from the different songs. Of course, this can happen without music when tasting the same whisky three times. Each nosing brings new flavours. On the other hand, you experience it again and again that a song triggers a mood in us humans - whether sad, happy, sentimental (the list is long). We all had that one experience on holiday when the pizza tasted so much better than at home - the mood influences the taste.

Whisky Playlist

So whisky and music are mutually dependent. No wonder there are so many songs about whisky. The pleasure of whisky probably also increases musical creativity. Sit back and enjoy our playlist on the subject of whisky.