Winemakers never shut up about terroir, which Merriam-Webster defines as “the combination of factors including soil, climate and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character.” Turns out whiskey is no slouch in that department either.
In a new study whose participants included Waterford Distillery, researchers analyzed two varieties of whiskey-making barley grown at different sites in southeastern Ireland. As The Drinks Business relates, preliminary results suggested that environmental differences have an impact on flavor.
For example, new-make spirit distilled from one grain was higher in compounds that deliver a “sweet, bready, caramel and woody taste,” while the other grain produced a spirit higher in compounds yielding “earthy, nutty, fruity and bubble-gum flavors.” Can’t wait to see what three years in oak will do. Take that, Francis Ford Coppola. (One of a long list of other Hollywood types who have shilled for Japanese whisky, by the way.)
History repeats itself
In other science news, master distiller Marianne Eaves used her chemical engineering chops to re-create flavours from a century-old bourbon, NPR explains. While renovating Kentucky’s historic Castle & Key Distillery, co-owner Eaves found and relished a 1917 bottle of Old Taylor made on the premises.
Determined to bring the same rich butterscotch note to her own product, she broke the antique liquid down into its constituent compounds. Those deets helped point to what grains bourbon industry pioneer Col. Edmund Haynes Taylor Jr. had distilled—and to a yeast yielding a similar flavor profile. Mm, butterscotch…