Evaluation of a Brazilian fuel alcohol yeast strain for Scotch whisky fermentations
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Traditionally, distilling companies in Scotland have employed a very limited number of yeast strains in the production of alcohol for Scotch whiskies. Recent changes such as the decline in availability of brewers’ yeast as a secondary yeast strain and the availability of yeast in different formats (e.g., dried and cream yeast as alternatives to compressed yeast) have promoted interest in alternative Scotch whisky distilling yeasts. In previous work, we investigated different strains of yeasts, specifically Brazilian yeasts which had been isolated from and used in fuel alcohol distilleries. One of the Brazilian yeasts (CAT 1) showed a comparable fermentation performance and superior stress tolerance compared with a standard commercial Scotch whisky distilling yeast (M Type). The Brazilian CAT 1 yeast isolate was further assessed in laboratory scale fermentations and subsequent new make spirit was subjected to sensory analyses. The spirits produced using the Brazilian strain had acceptable flavour profiles and exhibited no sensory characteristics that were atypical of Scotch whisky new make spirit. This study highlights the potential of exploiting yeast biodiversity in traditional Scotch whisky distillery fermentation processes.