Greater than a century has handed because the final scientific analyses of the famed “Lincoln County [Tennessee] course of” was printed, however the secrets and techniques of the well-known Tennessee whiskey taste are beginning to unravel on the College of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. The most recent analysis guarantees developments within the subject of taste science in addition to advertising and marketing.
Performed by John P. Munafo, Jr., assistant professor of taste science and pure merchandise, and his graduate scholar, Trenton Kerley, the research “Adjustments in Tennessee Whiskey Odorants by the Lincoln County Course of” was lately printed within the Journal of Agricultural and Meals Chemistry (JAFC).
The research included a mix of superior taste chemistry methods to probe the modifications in taste chemistry occurring throughout charcoal filtration. Any such filtration is a standard step within the manufacturing of distilled drinks, together with vodka and rum, however it’s a required step for a product to be labeled “Tennessee whiskey.” The step known as the Lincoln County Course of (LCP), after the locale of the unique Jack Daniel’s distillery. Additionally it is known as “charcoal mellowing.”
The LCP step is carried out by passing the contemporary whiskey distillate via a mattress of charcoal, normally derived from burnt sugar maple, previous to barrel-aging the product. Though no scientific research have proved such a declare, it’s believed that the LCP imparts a “smoother” taste to Tennessee whiskey. As well as, by regulation for the excellence of getting “Tennessee whiskey” on the label, the liquor should be produced within the state of Tennessee from at the least 51% corn after having been aged in Tennessee for at the least 2 years in unused charred oak barrels.
The precise LCP differs from distiller to distiller, and, as the main points are usually held as a commerce secret, the method has been traditionally shrouded in thriller. There aren’t any rules as to how the method is carried out, solely that the step is required. In different phrases, all a producer must do is cross the distillate over charcoal (an undefined quantity—presumably even only one piece). Thus, relying on the way it’s carried out, the LCP step could not affect the whisky taste in any respect. Alternatively, even small changes to the LCP can modify the flavour profile of the whiskey positively or negatively, doubtlessly inflicting any variety of surprises.
Munafo and Kerley describe how distillers regulate parameters empirically all through the whiskey manufacturing course of, then depend on skilled tasters to pattern merchandise, mixing subtly distinctive batches to realize their goal taste. Munafo says, “By gaining a basic understanding of the modifications in taste chemistry occurring throughout whiskey manufacturing, our workforce may advise distillers about precisely what modifications are wanted to make their course of produce their desired taste targets. We wish to give distillers levers to drag, so they don’t seem to be randomly or blindly making an attempt to get the exact taste they need.”
Samples used within the research have been offered by the Sugarlands Distilling Firm (SDC), in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, producers of the Roaming Man Whiskey. SDC invited the UTIA researchers to go to their distillery and acquire in-process samples. Munafo says SDC prioritizes transparency round their craft and takes pleasure in sharing the analysis, discovery and distillation means of how their whiskey is made and what makes Tennessee whiskey distinctive.
Olfactory evaluations—the great ole scent check—revealed that the LCP remedy usually decreased malty, rancid, fatty and roasty aromas within the whiskey distillates. As for the odorants (i.e., molecules accountable for odor), 49 have been recognized within the distillate samples utilizing an analytical approach referred to as gasoline chromatography-olfactometry (GC-O). 9 of those odorants have by no means been reported within the scientific whiskey literature.
One of many newly discovered whiskey odorants, referred to as DMPF, was initially found in cocoa. It’s described as having a novel anise or citrus-like scent. One other of the newly found whiskey odorants (referred to as MND) is described as having a nice dried hay-like aroma. Each odorants have remarkably low odor thresholds within the parts-per-trillion vary, that means that the smells could be detected at very low ranges by folks however are tough to detect with scientific instrumentation.
The one earlier investigation into how charcoal remedy impacts whiskey was printed in 1908 by William Dudley within the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The brand new research revealed contemporary data for optimizing Tennessee whiskey manufacturing. Thirty-one whiskey odorants have been measured by way of a method referred to as steady isotope dilution assay (SIDA), all displaying a lower in focus because of LCP remedy, albeit to completely different levels. That’s to say, whereas the LCP seems to be selective in eradicating sure odorants, the method didn’t enhance or add any odorants to the distillate. This new data can be utilized to optimize Tennessee whiskey manufacturing. For example, the method could be optimized for the removing of undesirable aromas, whereas sustaining larger ranges of fascinating aromas, thus “tailoring” the flavour profile of the completed whiskey.
“We wish to present the analytical instruments wanted to assist allow distillers to have extra management of their processes and make extra constant and flavorful whiskey, says Dr. Munafo. “We wish to assist them to take out among the guesswork concerned in whiskey manufacturing.”
Further research are actually underway on the UT Division of Meals Science to characterize each the flavour chemistry of several types of whiskey and their manufacturing processes. The final word purpose of the whiskey taste chemistry program is to help whiskey producers in producing a constant product with the precise taste profile that they want. Even with assistance from science Munafo says, “Whiskey making will ‘nonetheless’ stay a powerful artwork kind.” Pun meant.
Kerley T, Munafo JP. Adjustments in Tennessee Whiskey Odorants by the Lincoln County Course of. J Agric Meals Chem. Revealed on-line August 26, 2020. doi:10.1021/acs.jafc.0c03058
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