We don't want to say this is a better use of ultrasound than giving expecting parents a first look at their unborn babies, but ... Discover reports scientists in Spain have figured out they can use ultrasound to create brandy that tastes like it's been aged for years in just three days. Brandy is made by distilling wine then aging it in wood casks for two years to more than a decade, according to Forbes. The process can be expensive, but before the brandy is aged it's "almost undrinkable." Chemical reactions between the alcohol and the wood casks are what give brandies their flavor, smell, and color. That process takes years. Correction: It used to take years.
Building off previous research that found ultrasound could be used to get chemicals out of plant tissue, researchers ran distilled wine through American oak chips while hitting it with ultrasound. The ultrasound waves created tiny bubbles that caused the oak chips to release chemical compounds, adding the brandy flavor, Nova Next reports. The results, published in Ultrasonics Sonochemistry, were "really unexpected," one researcher tells Discover. Eight trained judges ruled the ultrasound brandy "tasted surprisingly well" and was comparable to aged brandies. And while, at least in Europe, brandy has to be barrel-aged to legally be called brandy, this process could be used to quickly test different woods or to create an entirely new kind of liquor. (Meanwhile, synthetic alcohol promises the buzz without the hangover.)