What role do yeast strains play in the flavor and aroma of whiskey?
Yeast plays a major role in the flavor and aroma of whiskey, as it produces long chain fatty acids, as well as other compounds like SO2, H2S, acetaldehyde, and ethyl acetate. It can also have an impact on the head scratching cut. Yeast is very important to many distillation philosophies, and should be given a lot of attention when making whiskey.
Transcript: "So what role do yeast strains play in the flavor and aroma of whiskey? Well this is something I've been playing around with for a long time. Yeast does not get talked about nearly enough in the United States or even in Scotland where it's considered a utility device in order to turn starch and well not turn starch into sugar but to convert sugar into CO2 and ethanol. Right the the more efficient it is the better it is for alcohol production but not necessarily for a pot still distiller. Yeast has just as much of an effect on flavor as what any of the small grains such as rye or wheat will have on flavor in particular when mixed into a mash bill and differing percentages. You talk to a lot of traditional you know Kentucky style distillers at the big factories and they're gonna tell you that yeast you know maybe off of the still it's gonna have five or ten percent impact but once it goes into the barrel it's gonna be negligible. That is not true at all not in my experience. I can tell you right now ten to fifteen percent even post maturation is pretty common for the yeast strains that we're playing around with and it has everything to do with long chain fatty acids that are being produced during fermentation as well as whether or not a yeast might be you know able to create some interesting off flavors or if it creates some SO2 or H2S that acetyl aldehyde and ethyl acetate can bond to or it does not produce those compounds giving you a smaller heads fraction or heads cut in general. Yeast is very important to my distillation philosophy in fact I would put it right up there at the height of importance with anything else that might go into a product. Sorry about the noise guys active working distillery here."