I'm actually making root beer, but I've found the best way is to boil herbs and spices the same way one would make a tea, and then I add sweetener, leave it to chill, and use a carbonation device to add bubbles.
So far I've been using ready made root beer ingredients that come either in extracts or in bags of herbs, like a loose leaf tea. Now I want to go the next step and make my own blend.
I've got a recipe I want to try and have bought all the ingredients I need in whole form. I'm wondering if there is any advantage in grinding them up. This answer on this site leads me to believe that it's workable to leave spices whole, but I feel like that wouldn't be the case with a whole nutmeg nut. Surely the flavour would not be accessed by boiling water in such a hard and thick nut?
I also learned that in the case of tea, it's actually inadvisable to boil or steep them for too long, as it releases bitter tannins. So I wonder if grinding down spices to "release" more flavour might also have adverse affects.
So, bottom line, maybe you can boil spices whole, but maybe it's better to chop or grind them a little? And if so, how far should one take it?