The Blue Ketchup Effect
I did a homemade e150 experiment a couple of years ago. Having around 8 friends over for some dramming I had homemade some colouring by melting some sugar in a pan (what a mess). I chopped some of this colouring and added it to a whisky that wasn't particular dark. I had divided the whisky in two parts, so I had some that was coloured and some that wasn't coloured. Then I handed around the two sample bottles, one clearly darker than the other and asked my guest to tell me their opinions about the whiskies. As always when you ask people about an opinion about a whisky the opinions will always differ somewhat, but in the group there was a big difference in the description from one sample to the other sample.
When I revealed that they actually had the same whisky, one was just homecoloured and the other wasn't, they were actual quite surprised. A few of the guys thought it was my colouring that had caused the taste difference, so they decided to carry out a REAL blind test. To their surprise they discovered, that when blindfolded, they couldn't really taste any difference between the two samples.
Now my experiemnt doesnt tell us that colouring doesnt affect the taste. This prank tasting was after a few drams and any slight differences wouldn't have been noticed. It DO tell us that we do taste a whisky with our eyes, or I would say with our expectations as well as with our nose and palate. When tasting the two very similar tasting whiskies (maybe totally similar tasting whiskies?) blindfolded they tasted the same. When not blinded they were perceived and described as tasting very different!
Similar experiments have been observed with ketchup. Test have been made with people being told their opinion about blue ketchup. Not many liked it. Well, the colouring was tasteless, and when tasted blind, noone could tell the difference between normal and blue ketchup. So just the look of ketchup that is blue you expect not to like it. And the colour is just so weird that few people like it, no matter the taste.
The problem with coloured whisky is that colour and taste doesnt match. This can confuse us as drinkers. It will put expectations in your head. It will mess up your brain.
Some coloured whiskies clearly suffer from the blue ketchup effect in my opinion. Something is just wrong when you drink them
I am also convinced that some people are more sensitive to e150 colouring than others and have very easy tasting the bitterness it apparently adds to whisky. Just like we all have different sensibilities to sulphur.The industry (The part that add e150 that is) claims that e150 has nom taste effect what so ever. But that is not the subject of this blog post