What's In A Whiff Of Whiskey? | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 30 | p. 50 | Concentrates
Issue Date: July 28, 2008

What's In A Whiff Of Whiskey?

Department: Science & Technology
Credit: Mitch Jacoby/C&EN

Aficionados of American Bourbon whiskey may be interested in the results of a new study that identifies the beverage's most odor-active compounds. Researchers have been studying the volatile components of whiskey for more than 40 years, but not all such compounds can be detected by the human olfactory system, note Luigi Poisson and Peter Schieberle of the German Research Center for Food Chemistry, in Garching. To zero in on the key aroma compounds, Poisson and Schieberle used gas chromatography and aroma extract dilution analysis (J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, 56, 5813). The pair identified more than 40 aroma compounds that contribute to whiskey's fruity, smoky, and vanillalike odor profile, including 13 compounds that hadn't been detected previously. The most active aroma compounds are (E)-β-damascenone, which smells like cooked apple, and γ-nonalactone, which resembles coconut. The researchers suggest that such studies could help whiskey producers modify or improve the aroma of whiskey by changing the recipe or the manufacturing process.

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