Whisky Connosr


Wild Yeast

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RianC started a discussion


Has anyone seen this? First time I've ever known a whisky to be made from wild yeast - are there others? Seems like a really good idea and I'd be very keen to try this whisky.

5 years ago

5 replies

Nozinan replied

Wild yeast is like a young adult. It has to go and sow its wild oats (in this case barley). When it gets older it will settle down and make Macallan.

5 years ago 0

Frost replied

I read that Glenmorangie Signet uses the same yeast. So...can we expect the same rapid loss of flavour once the bottle is popped?

5 years ago 1Who liked this?

Hewie replied

It's kind of interesting - but all yeasts were wild before they were 'domesticated'. This yeast has been isolated from the wild and cultivated. It's not like they've allowed wild yeasts from the environment to ferment the barley juice. I'm certain that different yeast strains have an impact on flavour profiles - I now this from home brewing beer. It will be interesting to see how this one compares with this 'wild' yeast.

5 years ago 0

RianC replied

So a bit of a gimmick then?

5 years ago 0

Victor replied

@Hewie is right. The article merely ritualizes selecting a yeast previously unknown to have been used for making whisky and using it for making whisky.

100+ years ago some bourbon makers used truly wild, random airborne yeast to ferment their whiskey. Buffalo Trace's very first edition of Col E H Taylor Bourbon which was named "Sour Mash" was the product of just such an experiment in taking what the winds blew in. Just about 100% of bourbons are made by a 'sour mash' process now, but not by THIS sour mash process.


The whiskey was interesting, different, and tasted very good. I am CERTAIN that they never would have bottled and sold it if the products of the experiment had turned out badly.

The importance of yeast? Yeast is critically important and more or less unknowable. That's why producers almost never talk about it. They have little specific to say about yeast. A different yeast = and entirely different whisky, with all other factors of production being the same. Some day seek out somebody who has most or all of those Four Roses 10 bourbons and run by multiple different yeasts with the exact same mashbill, distillation process, and distillation equipment. They are 5 quite distinct bourbons for each of the two separate Four Roses mashbills.

Big American distillers are fond of saying that 50% of the flavours of whiskey derive from the oak, 25% of the flavours of whiskey derive from the grains, and 25% of the flavours derive from the yeast chosen. 25% change in the flavour components is quite a lot.

With Scottish malt I expect that the wood component of flavour would be on average a little reduced from 50%, particularly for the younger Scottish malts. With refill casks and light aging the wood component of flavour could go down to, say, 10%. If anything, reducing the wood influence in the equation would increase the relative flavour influence of the yeast chosen in the final product.

Bottom line: yeast is HUGE. .

5 years ago 2Who liked this?