International Whiskey Day on March 27th, 2018 is a day for whiskey lovers around the world…
…to raise a glass and toast those who have over the centuries mastered the skills required to create the beverage and who made it what whiskey is today.The annual celebration of whiskey was first announced in 2008 and officially launched in 2009 at the Whiskey Festival in Northern Netherlands. The day is not just for enjoying the spirit, but it is also doing some good. Every year whiskey fans donate money to charities of their choice, however the most common being Parkinson’s Disease charities.
The international celebration was created in honor of legendary British whiskey connoisseur and journalist, Michael James Jackson, whose birthday falls on the same date. Jackson had suffered with Parkinson’s Disease for many years before he passed away in 2007 at the age of 65.
He is attributed with reviving interest in beer and breweries across the world in the 1970s and his books have been sold worldwide and in several languages. His television series, ‘The Beer Hunter’, was a hit for many decades and helped to garner a wider interest in the process of brewing beer.
International Whiskey Day allows people to pay tribute to those who made the drink a popular name and an opportunity to introduce whiskey to friends and family who may have never tasted it before.
The distillation of whiskey has changed very little over the last 200 years. Only three basic ingredients are needed—water, barley, and yeast. However, different grains can be used to develop varieties of whiskey including corn, rye, and wheat. Even though technology now aids in the creation of the drink, there are also only five stages to the production—malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and maturation.
Whiskey is typically aged in wooden casks, generally made of charred white oak. Wood is porous, so over time it will breathe in air from the surrounding environment where it is stored. This will also give the whiskey some unique characteristics. For example, if it is stored by the ocean, the air quality, temperature, and humidity will influence the end product more than say if it was stored in the middle of the Highlands.
Fun fact! About 2% of the spirit is lost through natural evaporation, which is referred to as the ‘angel’s share’. This also explains why older whiskies are less readily available and more expensive to buy—there is simply less whiskey in the cask to bottle.
Phenomenex took the opportunity of International Whiskey Day to celebrate by analyzing flavor compounds in scotch whiskey using an aqueous-stable polyethylene glycol stationary phase.
During wine and distilled spirit fermentation, compounds called congeners are formed. These congeners can contribute to a spirit’s flavor, but can be harmful if consumed in excess. Some spirits, such as vodka, undergo extra processing steps to eliminate these compounds.
Beyond health concerns, an overabundance of a specific congener can signify a problem with production of improper storage conditions. Distilleries also commonly perform congener profile analysis to mitigate adulteration claims and test for authenticity.
Because the congener profile of a distilled spirit is significant for both quality control and health safety, accurate analysis of these compounds is very important. Therefore, testing methods used to analyze these compounds must be qualitative, quantitative, and reproducible.
Click here to find the full technical note, “Improved Analysis of Flavor Compounds In Scotch Whiskey Using An Aqueous-Stable Polyethylene Glycol Stationary Phase.”
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