Post by Audrey Carlsen, The Salt at NPR Food
Ernie Button was putting a Scotch glass left out overnight into the dishwasher when he noticed something — a white, chalky film on the bottom of the glass. He held it up to the light and, upon closer inspection, could see a series of fine, lacy lines running along the inside of the glass.
As a hobbyist photographer whose work often focuses on showcasing the beauty of everyday objects, Button was intrigued by this discovery. "Wow, there's something to that," he recalls thinking.
And thus was born Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch, an ongoing photographic project Button has created to highlight the beautiful but often overlooked science of how liquids dry.
After first noticing the patterns left behind in his glass, Button began experimenting with other Scotch residues, shining different colored lights on them and photographing them up close. The results were strangely beautiful. "A little celestial, or extraterrestrial, almost," says Button.
That was six years ago. Since then, Button, who lives in Phoenix, Ariz., has captured upward of 75 photographs of whisky residues that he considers good enough to share with the public.