What’s a television weatherman-turned-distiller to do when the Polar Vortex comes sweeping through? Clearly, the answer is a science experiment… with booze. Ryan Burchett of the Mississippi River Distilling Company used last week’s record low temps as an opportunity to see if whiskey actually can freeze.
Before teaming up with his brother Garrett to start producing spirits in LeClaire, Iowa, Burchett worked as a local meteorologist. So, when the Hawkeye State got smacked with a historic cold front, he was ready with both the science knowledge and the on-camera skills to produce a couple, quick videos about the science of extreme temps and alcohol.
In the initial, set-up video, Burchett made a daytime venture out to the frigid lab that was his front porch. For the test, he placed a bottle of Cody Road Rye Whiskey from his distillery outside overnight.
Cody Road is 40 ABV and like most liquors, it is very hard to freeze due to that high alcohol content. In the video, Burchett accurately notes that spirits typically freeze at -17F (-27C).
Fortunately, temperatures in Iowa were dropped down to 25F below last week. When Burchett returned (phone/camera in tow) the next morning, the booze was, indeed, frozen.
The result was not quite a crystal clear ice cube. The bottle housed more of a semi-opaque slush with discernible chunks of traditional ice suspended in the mix.
Burchett also noted that the level of hooch in the sealed bottle dropped about .75in overnight. He explained that the cold causes the water to expand while the alcohol contracts. His hypothesis was that the lessened volumes were a product of the former phenomena outweighing the latter.
At the video’s conclusion, our narrator explained that he planned to take the bottle inside to thaw so that he could “drink it and forget about the cold.”