CULTURE & ARTS
05/28/2016 10:45 am ET Updated May 28, 2016

Ethereal Photos Show Just How Neat Whisky Dregs Can Be

"It's a little like snowflakes."

Ernie Button appreciates every last drop of his single malt Scotch. But he doesn't drink the dregs. Instead, he photographs them.

The 48-year-old photographer from Phoenix, Arizona, has documented the residue that's left over in whisky glasses for more than a decade.

And it's resulted in a stunning, otherworldly collection of images -- entitled Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch.

"I find it infinitely fascinating that a seemingly clear liquid could leave a residue and/or pattern with such clarity and rhythm after the liquid is gone," Button told The Huffington Post via email. "I am a fan of observing my world and the things that are happening around me; noticing the smaller details that may be ignored or overlooked."

Button said the idea for his labor of love occurred when he was putting a whisky glass into his dishwasher.

"I noted a film on the bottom of a glass and when I inspected closer, I noted these fine, lacy lines filling the bottom," he told HuffPost.

Through experimentation and shining colored lights through the glass, he discovered patterns and images could be created with just two to four drops of the beverage.

"The alcohol dries and leaves the sediment in various patterns," he added. "It's a little like snowflakes."

Button has snapped hundreds of striking shots featuring more than 25 brands of whisky over the years.

His work inspired researchers at Princeton University, led by Dr. Howard Stone, to discover why whisky doesn't leave behind "rings" beneath glasses when it evaporates, unlike coffee residue on cups can.

"His team did a nice job answering the mechanical question of how the whisky was drying and what makes it unique," Button said.

Asked for his favorite image, the photographer said it was "usually the next one that I take."

"When the pattern of the circular rings forms at the bottom of the glass after a fine Scotch, it never disappoints me," he added.

HuffPost

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