Monday, June 23, 2008

Hangover Chemicals?

I cannot believe this is true:

Towards the end of Harold Wilson’s first term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, we recall attending a lecture by the head of the Beverage Chemistry division of one of the world’s largest liquor firms. This man was responsible for the formulation and quality control of many famous brands of alcoholic beverages, shipped and served all over the world. He told us that it was very important, after making the whisky or gin or strong ale or whatever it might be, to add small amounts of unpleasant chemicals to them. He explained:

“People have come to expect that if they spend a lot of money on a fifth of premium whiskey, and they drink a good bit of it on a Friday night, that they ought to feel terrible on Saturday morning. The most important part of my job is to see to it that just the right amount of fusel is added to the beverage so that their headache the next morning will meet their expectations. If we make our beverages too pure, too free of impurities, then our customers will feel cheated when they hardly have any headache at all the next morning, and they’ll start to think that we’re watering it down. They want their pain, so we add enough amyl alcohol to ensure that they get what they expect. The morning-after aches and pains are a key part of our brand identity.”

Sounds like BS to me. Brewers add chemicals to cause hangovers? If this were true, then sane brewers would capture market share by offering hangover-free booze.

(HT: Born Again Redneck)


Monica said...

Tell you what, Myrhaf. The next time I make some homebrew I'll let you know, as I surely don't add monster hangover inducing chemicals, eh? :)

I suspect if it is true, the amyl alcohol just makes the hangover worse than it otherwise would be, not that it's causing the hangover exclusively.

Jim May said...

with all the other variables between the different forms of alcohol (not to mention even greater variability in each individual's metabolism), I'm inclined to doubt that as well.

But then again, I'd not put it past today's equivalents of the "temperance" movement to demand that such things be legally required as additives to dissuade alcoholism.

Gus Van Horn said...

I do know that some of the larger "beer" manufacturers throw additives in to cause their products to foam more.

That said, I find this story hard to swallow.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

That was in the UK in the 70s - I wouldn't put anything past the "ruling class" at that time but I doubt if it could happen in the USA.