Every snowflake has a unique crystal shape. Every human possesses unique fingerprints.
At the next Beer with a Scientist on Dec. 5, Stuart J. Williams, PhD, will explain that every brand of bourbon has a unique signature as well. Like fingerprints, these patterns, called whiskey webs, can be used to verify a bourbon’s authenticity.
“We have discovered that if you evaporate a small, diluted drop of bourbon on a surface, it leaves behind a pattern unique to bourbon,” Williams said. “Moreover, each pattern is unique to a specific brand of bourbon. We are using these findings to detect counterfeit bourbons, as well as to investigate fundamental mechanisms of self-assembly and to introduce colloid science to bourbon enthusiasts.”
Williams, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Louisville, researches fluid dynamics with an emphasis on flow visualization, microfluidics and colloid science. Colloids are a combination of tiny particles of one substance that are suspended in a liquid, solid or gas, but do not join with that substance.
Bourbon enthusiasts – and anyone else – can learn more about colloid science and see images of the unique and beautiful whiskey webs at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, at Holsopple Brewing, 8023 Catherine Ln., Louisville. A 30-minute presentation will be followed by an informal Q&A session.