BSc Project on Scotch Whisky Published by Chemical Physics Student

A research article on the behaviour of flavour molecules in Scotch whisky has recently been published in the Journal of Molecular Liquids

The first two authors are Emma Shuttleworth, a recent Chemical Physics graduate, and Dr Rui Apóstolo, who supervised the project. Rui is a former PDRA in Philip Camp’s group, and now works for EPCC. The final-year BSc project was carried out in collaboration with colleagues at The Scotch Whisky Research Institute in nearby Riccarton. One of the SWRI co-authors, Joan Clark-Nicolas, is also a former member of the School.

Molecular dynamics simulations were used to explore what happens to flavour molecules at the interface between the liquid and the ‘headspace’ – the air in the glass above the whisky. Depending on the alcohol content, and hence how much water is put in the whisky, different flavour molecules have different propensities to evaporate into the headspace and be sensed by the drinker.


This was a great project in collaboration with SWRI, a fantastic achievement for Emma to get an article published on her BSc Chemical Physics work, and excellent experience for Rui and Joan to manage the study from start to finish. I would like to do more of this kind of applied research – and maybe get some free whisky samples!