I have been running a small Whisky Maturation related Experiment and I wish to share an update with myself. I am writing this blog for myself as a diary, but if other people enjoy it too, all the better. Anyways, I am maturing “ethanol” in different kinds of ABV concentrations.

I’m running 4 experiments in numbered erlenmeyer’s

  1. Tab-water and oak (way to much)
  2. 100 ml Alcohol / 400 ml distilled water / 3 grams of oak
  3. 400 ml Alcohol / 100 ml distilled water / 3 grams of oak
  4. 450 ml distilled water / 3 grams of oak

The experiment has been running for some time now and I made previous blogs about it:


The photo’s I have made of these experiments have not been under controlled lighting conditions.


So I decided to have some fun in my “Darkroom” and make photo’s in a controlled environment.

Small studio setup
Small studio setup

I made some photo’s at ISO 100, f/22, 70 mm, 1/100. All with the same flash settings. All at 5600K.


In the photo’s above I combined the photo’s into one image so I can clearly see the colour differences between the different content in the Erlenmeyer’s.

What was interesting to see is that Erlenmeyer’s 1 (tap water, 0% ABV) and 4 (distilled water, 0 ABV) all had stuff growing in them. See photo below. Erlenmeyer 4 has lots of condensed water droplets on the inside. Erlenmeyer 1 used to have that but for some reason today it had not?


Now here comes the tricky thing. I would have expected that there is a correlation between ABV and the red colouring of the Erlenmeyer’s. The correlation being that at higher ABV’s the reddish colour we know from a bourbon would be extracted. But, what I can see in 0% ABV erlenmeyer 1 is a way deeper reddish/brownish colour than in the 80% ABV erlenmeyer nr. 3.  How can that be?

Erlenmeyer 1 used to be a dirty brown mucky kind of colour and with time it seems to have been gaining red tones. What does that mean? I will have to think about that!

Possible answers could be that at lower 0% ABV’s a chemical is extracted from the oak that is also red. It would have to react with chemicals present in tap-water to become red, because the same does not happen in the 0 ABV Erlenmeyer that has distilled water in it. Tap water in the Netherlands contains some chemicals. Florine, chlorine etc. so there are chemicals in the mix, besides water, that could result in some chemical reaction.

Erlenmeyer 3 has always had a red colour component in it. Apparently this is due to the reaction between 80% ethanol and the oak?

What is making me puzzled is the how and the why of the yellow in the 100% distilled water. Does this explain the yellow in the erlenmeyer 2 as well? Does the water draw out chemicals that are only yellow? Does the red chemical only come out of the wood at higher ABV? if so, why is erlenmeyer 1 red?

After more than half a year of maturation I am formulating more questions than answers. And the answers I was hoping for are not turning out to be true. Excellent stuff off coarse, but why am I seeing what I am seeing?

Will erlenmeyer 2 and 4 also turn red with time? Just like erlenmeyer 1? Is only time the factor before the red comes out in Erlenmeyer 2 and 4?

I will let the experiment run for another half a year to see what is happening then!

More on this experiment here: https://iladdie.wordpress.com/category/experiment/