A Different Perspective on Single-Malt Whisky

vanishing spirits

Don’t ask Ernie Button what keeps him busy, or you will get a seemingly absurd answer. The photographer is still hard at work taking images of dried Scotch whisky stuck to the bottom of whisky glasses. A rather weird preoccupation, until you see what kinds of pictures this pastime yields. “I’m just looking for something unique in the residues,” he says. “I describe it like a kind of celestial or terrestrial landscape.”

ernie button

Indeed, the dried-up spirits do produce some rather interesting images. The Phoenix, Arizona based photographer discovered some artistic value in the bottom of an empty Scotch glass for good reason.

vanishing spirits ernie button


Button described his odd discovery,

“The idea for this project occurred while putting a used Scotch glass into the dishwasher. I noted a film on the bottom of a glass and when I inspected closer, I noted these fine, lacey lines filling the bottom. What I found through some experimentation is that these patterns and images that you see can be created with the small amount of Single-Malt Scotch left in a glass after most of it has been consumed. The alcohol dries and leaves the sediment in various patterns. It’s a little like snowflakes in that every time the Scotch dries, the glass yields different patterns and results. I have used different color lights to add ‘life’ to the bottom of the glass, creating the illusion of landscape, terrestrial or extraterrestrial. Some of the images reference the celestial, as if the image was taken of space; something that the Hubble telescope may have taken or an image taken from space looking down on Earth.”

vanishing spirits ernie button photo series

It is quite amazing how a virtually obscured residue of spirit can resemble something as vast and immense as a celestial body or planet, or how it can also look like something from biology class such as an eyeball.   Fantastic as the pictures look, they all beg one question: Who drank all the booze?

photo series vanishing spirits

See Button’s incredible scotch residue images called Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.