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The Blog

Whisky Flavour Comparing Matured Whisky With Young Spirit And The Perception Of Quality Part 2

Dec 4th, 02:23 PM


Part 2 on the development of Whisky flavour

3. Sensory

4. Production and flavour development

                                4.1 Kilning

                                4.2 Fermentation

                                4.3 Distillation                   

5. New Spirit     

6. Maturation

                                6.1 Variables

                                6.2 Oak

7. Future research

8. Conclusion

9.  References


3. Sensory

Whisky can be analysed in a variety of ways and methods that include microbiology analysis, freezing point analysis, spirit analysis, chemical analysis and sensory analysis(Pryde, Conner et al., 2011). Sensory analysis involves profiling the Whisky flavour (Pryde et al., 2011) and typically it is conducted by a panel (Yoshida et al., 2012) although it can involve just one person (Tao, 2016). There are a variety of aids to assist assessors, such as Quantitative Descriptive Analysis(Stone, 1993), which gives assessors the freedom to express flavours they pick out or the SWRI whisky flavour wheel(Lee, Paterson et al., 2001) which provides a wheel of flavours to help assessors formulate the vocabulary to describe what they taste.



Figure 2. SWRI whisky flavour wheel.(Lee et al., 2001).

The Whisky flavour wheel that provides guidance on the vocabulary when trying to express or identify certain flavours.  



Alternatively, assessors could be left to assess flavours on their own as experts(McGrew & Chambers, 2011) or without guidance. The wheel does have practical use, when Mackinlay’s Rare Highland Malt  was discovered in 2011 the SWRI whisky flavour wheel was used to identify all the flavours in the Whisky and then an expert tasting panel assessed the flavours on a scale(Pryde et al., 2011). Sensory tasting that involves physical tasting has been labelled organoleptic testing as its qualitative and subjective based (McGrew & Chambers, 2011). McGrew and Chambers (2011) identified multiple weaknesses with sensory analysis, high alcohol can desensitise the nose and palate of the assessor, they can miss off notes when samples are not diluted and they can fail to identify delicate flavour notes in matured products if products are diluted, variations in serving ware and temperature during tasting can impact the analysis and the order in which samples are evaluated can lead to distortions in sampling.


From a Quality Control Perspective Sensory Evaluation is key and involves greater attention to details such as methodological assessor training, sample preparation and recording and reporting steps, that are useful to the scientific evaluation of products (McGrew & Chambers, 2011). Where descriptive analysis methods posses more of the qualities associated with quality control, they have the advantage of being better at predicting how well the consumer will accept the product (Rousseau, 2010). A more constructive sensory can be achieved when descriptive analysis methods possess more of the qualities associated with Quality Control and Sensory Analysis Evaluation because sensory panels have the unique advantage of  being better at predicting how well the consumer will accept the product (Rousseau, 2010).


More common are the use of analytical instruments such as the electric nose and electric tongue (Yoshida et al., 2012) which have been used to analyse alcoholic beverages,(Ragazzo-Sanchez, Chalier et al., 2008), beer(Li, Pickard et al., 2007) and wines (Berna, Trowell et al., 2009) for sensory analysis. In a recent study that used a sensory panel and analytical instruments, complimentary results were revealed when used together although the electronic nose was not able to replicate some of the panel’s results on certain notes (Yoshida et al., 2012). 


Analytical instruments such as chemical analysis can relate results back ultra-fast and they can be relatively cheap (Yoshida et al., 2012). Congeners which include the alcohol, acids, esters carbonyl compounds, phenols, hydrocarbons, and trace amounts of nitrogen and sulphur containing compounds (Swan & S., 1981) are identified by tools such as gas chromatography(AOAC, 2000, Aylott, 2003). As congeners contribute to sensory character (Tao, 2016) being able to identify them helps to build a picture of aromas and characters of the Whisky(Lee et al., 2001). In addition, direct-injection reversed phase gradient HPLC with fluorescent detection (Aylott, 2003) can be used to detect phenols which again give an idea of Scotch flavours. However, Tao (2016) notes that chemical analysis is not enough on its own; sensory based on qualitative information in conjunction with analytical chemistry provides the strongest assessment of sensory impact. Indeed improved congener analysis has not improved understanding of Whisky flavour which was part of the inspiration behind the SWRI flavour wheel(Monica Lee, Paterson et al., 2001).



4. Production and flavour development

During production Whisky aroma is developed from many different volatile organic compounds(Lee et al., 2001). Some of these will only be obvious in a new spirit as they slip away during further maturation, while other notes remain the same or are only slightly changed during maturation.


4.1 Kilning

Kilning is a major part of flavour development (Tao, 2016), aromas come from Enzymatic and chemical oxidation, Maillard reaction and Peating (Tao, 2016). Enzymes can produce the grainy or green cereal-type odors (Tressl, Bahri et al., 1983).  Maillard reaction produces aroma compounds associated with cooked cereal, corn-like and bready aromas (Paterson & Piggott, 1989). Peating, provides that distinct flavour recognizable in Whisky(Bathgate & Cook, 1989), phenolic compounds are the most distinctive compounds of peated malt and in addition peat has been known to contribute over 80 different aromas (Deki & Yoshimura, 1974).


4.2 Fermentation

Lehtonen and Jounela-Eriksson (1983) noted that Fermentation is a key stage in the formation of aromas(Lehtonen, 1983). Aromas are derived from higher alcohols, fatty acids and esters (Tao, 2016) which can tracked to the end product. It is usually the same aromas that are developed at this stage because the same components are used and yeast generally produces the same aromas irrespective of sugar source(Suomalainen & Lehtonen, 1976). The higher alcohols contribute little to aroma with the exception of 2-phenylethanol which produces a rose-like fragrant floral odor (Nykänen & Suomalainen, 1983). Esters provide the greatest influence on aroma (Tao, 2016); the light and medium fractions of the esters provide the ‘fruit esters’(Suomalainen & Nykanent, 1970) and the heavy fraction provides the waxy and oily like aroma (Christoph & Bauer-Christoph, 2007).


4.3 Distillation

Distillation is the basis of production for creating high alcohol beverages (Tao, 2016) and the copper contact of the stills play an important role in the affect of aroma(Lea & Piggott, 2003). Variations in new spirit flavour is believed to come from the unique shapes of the different distillery stills from the swan neck, lyne arm and the affect of the degree of reflux (Nicol, 1989, Nicol, 2003). Tao (2016) noted that distillation will both recover volatile aromas from the fermented wort and stimulate further aroma relevant reactions through the distillation temperatures. The copper reduces sulfur compounds (Harrison, Fagnen et al., 2011, Nicol, 2003) that contain undesirable aromas which are vegetable, rotten egg, grassy or rubbery(Harrison et al., 2011) although it should be noted that a small amount of Sulphur is desirable (Harrison et al., 2011).  Therefore, the amount of copper contact from the different still designs plays an important role; the more copper contact the less risk from Sulphur and vice versa. Without copper contact at distillation, spirit distilled was found to taste more unclean (Harrison et al., 2011) which would perhaps make for a more challenging maturation to eradicate off notes.


5. The new spirit

Following the end of distillation new spirit is produced. New spirit(Conner et al., 2003) has been described as pungent, (with) unpleasant odors and sharp tastes. Unfortunately, it can be produced with many immediate issues that cause off notes related to ethanolic pungency caused by ethanolic content(Withers, Piggot et al., 1996), peppery off notes caused by bacteria(Kahn, La Roe et al., 1968), fermentations that produce acrolein, (Kahn et al., 1968) elevated temperatures or extended fermentations caused by yeast catabolism(Sponholz, 1993), pungent burnt and peppery notes caused by acrolein in distillation(Hardy & Brown, 1989), bacterial contamination in the washback, agitations in pH, oxygen tension(Mills, Baugh et al., 1954). However, after 2-3 years of maturation traces of these issues will disappear(Lee et al., 2001) which would suggest longer maturation is desired in order to be assured of the removal of possible off-notes. Arguably maturation through aging is described as the most important and costly stage of distilled beverage production(Mosedale & Puech, 1998) in comparison to distillation and other stages.


6. Maturation

Beyond the minimum three years that Whisky needs to be matured in oak(Mosedale & Puech, 1998), there is little knowledge of the relationship between maturation time and the quality of the final product (Tao, 2016). In many respects time is relative to other variables.


6.1. Variables

A whisky’s storage parameters (Philp, 1989) can vary wood extraction as humidity and temperature play a role in extraction; whisky matured in colder climates will have slower wood extraction (Tao, 2016) and therefore longer maturation is required.


New make spirit characteristics,  spirits that have higher alcohol levels will extract flavour from the wood quicker(McGrew & Chambers, 2011) which would mean higher alcohol new make spirit could have hastened maturation.


The size of the cask will impact the extraction. Products in smaller barrels will gain more wood character quicker due to greater levels of wood contact (McGrew & Chambers, 2011) which means spirits can be overpowered by wood quicker while extraction is quicker.


As the role of oak makes up a number of these variables, it is obviously a key part of maturation and has noted as such(Lee et al., 2001).


6.2 Oak

Oak maturation is fundamental to the production of Whisky – maturing in oak will reduce the notes that are pungent, soapy, sour and harsh and encourages smoothness, maturity and mellowness in new spirit (Lee et al., 2001). It is understood to be essential in improving fresh distillate (Tao, 2016) and to remove immature character, in particular it removes sulphur compounds(Philp, 1986). Oak’s ability to extract and transform volatile compounds is of prime importance to the final aroma (Tao, 2016). Oak will infuse unique aromas too, such as clove like flavours (Mosedale & Puech, 1998).

Compounds such as tannins, organic acids, sugars, as well as glycerol are extracted from the wood into the Whisky rapidly within the first 6 months, followed by a slow linear increase with time (Mosedale & Puech, 1998, Nishimura & Matsuyama, 1989) see Figure 3 for wood extraction. Colour is also added (Mosedale & Puech, 1998) which acts as an indication of quality too.



Figure 3. Congener changes over time (Nishimura & Matsuyama, 1989)

The colour of Whisky increasing over the years of maturation


The choice of wood would appear to have a strong influence on the character and aroma of Whisky. First fill-oak casks have rapid initial wood extract extraction within the first 6 to 12 months whereas refill casks have comparably less extraction over the same period (Tao, 2016) and as overall extraction is lower this which implies weaker cask characteristics related to woody vanilla and sweet notes over time which oak provides (Conner et al., 2003).


Where the spirit has a relatively short amount of time exposed to wood there would be an expectation of more distillate characteristics and where there is a prolonged maturation there will be more wood character to distillate character (Conner et al., 2003), a longer exposure to wood would allow greater levels of positive characteristics through prolonged levels of extraction from the oak.

Used casks generally lead to much longer maturation times than found for new casks because they release lower concentrations of extraction (Reazin, 1983a). However, just as products can underage there is a risk of over-aging(McGrew & Chambers, 2011).


Different sensory characteristics have been identified in wood that is charred compared to uncharred. Charred wood enjoys increased levels of aromatic aldehydes and esters (Conner et al., 2003). However, volatile phenols can be formed during high temperatures which create more unpleasant notes(Conner et al., 2003). Ultimately, charring produces are more absorbent and active surface for congeners which aids the removal of immature characteristics in the new spirit (Reazin, 1983).


As oak barrels are permeable this allows for the evaporation of ethanol and water which results in the Whisky reducing in overall volume while hastening the concentration of aroma; adding greater complexity and intensity (Nishimura & Matsuyama, 1989). Where this can be a cause of concern in older Whisky is if the alcohol level drops below 40

Whisky Flavour Comparing Matured Whisky With Young Spirit And The Perception Of Quality Part 1

Dec 4th, 02:16 PM


This part 1 of 2 part piece on the development of Whisky flavour

Producers and customers will wait years for Whisky to be ‘ready’. For many it is an assumption that the older the Whisky then the better quality it is. How quality is understood with Whisky has a lot to do with flavour. To understand a Whisky’s quality through flavour it is essential to know how flavour is recognized through the senses and how it is measured through various sensory analysis. An evaluation of the key stage of maturation can then be made in an attempt to garner an understanding of how Whisky gets better with age?


1. Introduction

2. Flavour

                2.1 Taste

                2.2 Smell

                2.3 Texture

                2.4 Appearance


A single malt 70cl Glenfiddich 50 year old Whisky costs £22,850.00 (with free delivery) while a 70cl 12 year old Glenfiddich costs only £32.33 (delivery not included), Master of Malt (UK)(Malt, 2017a, Malt, 2017b). What separates these Whiskies on paper is 38 years of maturation and £22,817.67 but ignoring market value derived from the rarity and marketing it is important to know the purpose of maturation and what it can do to improve a Whisky’s quality. Whisky quality can be interpreted in a variety of ways using traditional and modern forms of measurement. With a grasp of how to measure quality, it then becomes essential to understand where the desirable and undesirable aromas are coming from. Finally, with a context of measurement and a knowledge of the desired aromas it is possible to evaluate the role of maturation.



2. Flavour

To develop an understanding of Whisky quality it is necessary to explore flavour to identify those flavours desired and not desired. Flavour is the culmination of different influences from senses including taste, appearance, smell and texture(Bredie & Møller, 2011). It’s complex, with differences in flavour due to variations in product composition derived from differences in raw material and production methods (Tao, 2016, Yoshida, Ishikawa et al., 2012).


2.1 Taste

Taste and gustation is fundamentally split into five basic properties sucrose (sweet), quinine (bitter), sodium chloride (salty), citric acid (sour) and monosodium glutamate (umami) (Bredie & Møller, 2011). These five tastes exist because not one can be created with a combination of the other four. In addition there is growing research that fat should be classed as a taste (Crystal & Teff, 2006), research has shown that when restrained eaters taste fat it increases their desire for food intake, while increasing vagal efferent activity which is associated with diminished heart rate, in comparison to non-fatty foods (Crystal & Teff, 2006).  Water too has been included in the taste category because of the way nerve fibres respond to water applied to the tongue (Bredie & Møller, 2011). Pain and the sense of temperature have been placed in the taste category due to certain flavours being found to target the nociceptors present on the lips and in the mouth(Mandadi & Roufogalis, 2008).



Figure 1. the five basic taste qualities (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami) with other properties that are also believed to be important for the overall taste quality of foods and beverages (Bredie & Møller, 2011)


2.2 Smell

The value of the sense of smell was highlighted by Bredie & Møller (2011) “[Smell allows for] an almost infinite number of ‘tastes’ the different possible tastes increases enormously from the five dimensions that the sense of taste provides on its own”. However, it should be noted the aroma for whisky is defined as a combination of mouthfeel, taste and odour/smell (Tao, 2016). 

Whisky has a particularly strong relationship with aroma, enjoying a complex mixture of hundreds of aroma compounds(Nykänen & Suomalainen, 1983)  developed through the raw materials used and a variety of production methods adopted (Tao, 2016). (Tao, 2016) suggested that ‘the aroma and aroma compounds give the spirit its typical odour  and taste’ which places great emphasis on the role of aroma. However, on its own smell is not enough; concerns were found at quality control level where experts would evaluate alcohol on nosing alone rather than tasting but tasting the sample would release flavors or heighten certain flavors undetected in nosing (McGrew & Chambers, 2011). Despite this, the sense of aroma has been described as the most important sensory category (Jack, 2011).


Table 1, illustrates the incredible variety of aromas found in the Scotch Whisky industry in what was an attempt to categorize distilleries based on twelve standard aromas (body, sweetness, smoky, medicinal, tobacco, honey, spicy, winey, nutty, malty, fruity and floral) Judging was based on a benchmark release from each distillery (Wishart, 2006). This work to classify Whisky by aroma is indicative of how valuable aroma is as it represents an attempt to classify Whisky away from traditional categorizations such as regional location which has become more blurred whereas aroma traits are distinct (Tao, 2016).


Table 1.1 Classification of single malt whiskies by aroma (Wishart 2006)



The table grouped together Whisky distilleries into 10 categories based on common aromas that they shared based on benchmark examples of Whisky from the distillery.


2.3 Texture

With Whisky texture is described as mouthfeel and here temperature has a role to play too. Tastes like sucrose (sweetness) are more easily detected between 25–35 °C and research into this relatively limited field found that higher temperatures can increase umami sensitivity while cooling to 10°C increased the salty taste(Green et al., 2016). This is of importance to tasting panels as the environment of the tasting could alter the taster’s assessment.


2.4 Appearance

Although it has been suggested that the chemical senses, taste, smell and chemesthesis (pain, touch and temperature) are the most significant of all the senses(Bredie & Møller, 2011), appearance still has a value. Particularly with whisky, as evidenced by the 50 year old Glendiffich’s deluxe packaging which is typical of the increased marketing of older whisky to create a more deluxe looking Whisky. Colour in food is assumed to give a reflection of taste(Small & Prescott, 2005) which makes the appearance of a whisky very important; dark whiskies give the impression of having been matured for a longer time (Conner, Reid et al., 2003) and therefore containing more desirable flavours. However, this has led to the use of Cobalt blue glasses in tastings to reduce prejudice(McGrew & Chambers, 2011) to hiding the colour when sampling. Short stemmed glasses with bulbous bodies are used for quality control but there is no scientific research to demonstrate improved flavour detection using this type of glassware (McGrew & Chambers, 2011). It should be noted that artificial colouring is used in blends and single malts to create an impression of greater maturation, which is indicative of the value of colour to a Whisky.

The next article will explore sensory and production methods with the flavours that are created.

Written by Gregor Hannah

Director of Hannah Whisky Merchants ltd


December 2017 Batch Of Releases

Nov 27th, 05:11 PM

In December we should be releasing our first batch of single casks since April. 

The new releases will be in our new uniquely etched glass bottles, designed by young Scottish designer Kimberley Grant.


Our new releases will also come with cartons


We are pleased to reveal a varied mix of releases that includes malt and grain whisky, a silent distillery offering, different cask styles from bourbon barrels to Sherry Octave finishes and representations from Speyside to Islay.

The releases, all bottled at natural cask strength with no colouring.

1990 Macallan, Bourbon cask with Olorosso Octave finish - only 20 bottles released

1991 Cambus, Sherry Butt with Olorosso Octave finish - only 55 bottles released

1998 Isle of Jura, Bourbon Higsheads - 230 bottle release, tasting notes of shortbread, lemon and caramel

2002 Bowmore, Bourbon Barrel - 180 bottle release, tasting notes of cheesecake, smoked bacon and butterscotch

2008 Tobermory, Sherry Butt - 353 bottle release, A sherry bomb




Understanding Barley And Malt, Know The Difference And Measure The Quality

Nov 27th, 01:35 PM


This year I'm undertaking a Post Graduate in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot Watt while running Hannah Whisky Merchants ltd. 

Updating the news feed is naturally going to be challenging so I've decided where possible split up my assignments for you to read.

Barley is of fundamental importance in the making of Whisky and measuring it's quality is an essential part of making sure you get the best barley for your buck. Near Infrared Reflectance is an amazing practice that is used to measure barley and in this report it's compared with other techniques. 


‘There was three kings into the east,

Three kings both great and high,

And they hae sworn a solemn oath

John Barleycorn should die’ (Burns, 1782)

Robert Burns revealed the process of malting barley through the personification of John Barleycorn; his demise from being ploughed, drowned, scorched and crushed are parallels to the stages of harvest, steeping, kilning and milling. In continuation of Burns’ personification, the use of Near Infrared Reflectance (NIR) and other forms of barley analysis are the equivalent to the ‘Three Kings’ carrying out tests to assess how well John’s body will cope with the onslaught to come and if it will be worthwhile. The actual use of NIR is to analyse the quality of barley.



From humble origins in China or Egypt predating 3000 BC(Zhang, 2010) cultivated Barley (Hordeum vulgare L.) is now grown all over the world due to its resilience to drought conditions and adaptability to short growing seasons(Ping, Wang and Ren, 2013). The widespread and varied nature of barley has brought numerous strains; each carrying a different genetic makeup meaning their proteins are different. This variance is compounded as the industry regularly changes its preferred choice of barleys with no variety in use for more than 10 years (Kendall, 1995). Furthermore, even a single barley can have a considerable variation of protein content due to variations in size(Fox et al., 2011). The widespread differences produce varying yields and as only a small amount of the world’s barley is suitable for malting(Palmer, 2006) an efficient system is required to identify the most suitable barley for malting as undesired germination and further processing of substandard barley is uneconomical(Fox et al., 2011). Brewers acquire over 90% of malt produced from malting barley(Kendall, 1995) and as such they have specific requirements that need to be met for their barley so tests such as NIR are used to identify key attributes along with other typical assessments such as requiring a pure lot, freedom from disease, less than 5% peeled and broken kernels and plump and uniform kernels(Kendall, 1995).  


How does NIR work

After the barley has been harvested and dried tests are carried out to evaluate its grade, low (1) to high (9), which is based on yield, disease resistance and malting quality (Palmer, 2006). As Protein is of vital importance to the brewer it is essential to test the barely and brewers have set targets which NIR assists them to identify(Fox et al., 2011). NIR works by placing a sample of barley into a machine where multiple near infrared light scans reveal the structure of the molecules depending on the strength of light passing through the molecule. The scan can reveal amylose and starch content(Ping, Wang and Ren, 2013) for brewers extract and the production of ethanol; higher starch equates to higher brewers extract.

NIR less subjective and destructive

Compared to tetrazolium, NIR is less subjective and destructive(McGoverin et al., 2011); the tetrazolium test requires the soaking of cut kernels in a tetrazolium chloride solution which is then subjectively evaluated by an assessor deciding if the kernel is viable or not. In addition the tetrazolium test is not ideal for discovering fungal infection: NIR has been touted as a low cost and rapid method for the detection of aflatoxins in cereals(Fernández-Ibañez et al., 2009) carcinogenic for animals and humans among other Fungus which can be detected by NIR(Fox et al., 2011). Despite the negatives, the tetrazolium test it is a useful tool to corroborate results from an NIR test as illustrated in the McGoverin et al study(McGoverin et al., 2011) but it does require specialist training and is much slower to complete (Fernández-Ibañez et al., 2009), in addition NIR can identify the existence of several components simultaneously(Ping, Wang and Ren, 2013) while tetrazolium is more limited.  Further tests for pre germination deemed inadequate on grounds of subjectivity and destruction were the Failing Number test, based on the ability of alpha-amylase to liquefy a starch gel but this relies on an assessor monitoring change over time, the Standard Germination and the Visual Inspection tests rely on training and judgement too (McGoverin et al., 2011). However, one concern identified with NIR is the inherent problem of averaging spectral scans when a bulk sample is scanned (Fox et al., 2011)  leading to values at the extreme ends of the NIR scale not being reported.

NIR quicker and more sound

NIR has increased in use since the 1980s (Ping, Wang and Ren, 2013).  Prior to this, tests were based on the physical structure of the endosperm thought to be key to understanding malting potential(Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976). Kernels with hard endosperms did well in these tests while softer grains faired poorer. The tests themselves took no account of the enzymes activated during malting which allow for endosperm breakdown and instead only measured endosperm compactness and complexity of the cell walls(Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976) whereas NIR identifies internal proteins. Sedimentation tests identified that stealy barley, barley with harder kernels, would tend to have more nitrogen/protein which would mean more brewers extract than mealy, softer barley kernels, where the lower nitrogen produces more B-amalayse. However, nitrogen content could be altered during the malting process depending on endosperm modification(Palmer, 2006) so only assessing surface hardness in the test meant it failed to identify the potential enzyme activity which could greatly improve performance during germination(Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976). In common with NIR, early tests sought results fast (Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976); micro-malting involved carrying a sample through the entire malting process and evaluating the results which took 10 days (Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976) and was very time consuming(Slack et al., 1985)! Prior to NIR these tests were simple, saved time compared to their predecessors (Allison, Cowie and McHale, 1976) but were ultimately potentially flawed. However, where relatively modern tests did become available which were more accurate and expansive, such as the hot water extract test (HWE), the method was actually more time consuming(Slack et al., 1985); scaling down micro-malting to the point of test tube level to do mashing with smalls samples and evaluate the hot water extract(Slack et al., 1985).



The need for faster results initially pushed forward the techniques used to evaluate barley quality. From micro malting which took 10 days and sedimentation tests and the use of tetrazolium which allowed for relatively immediate results but with the weaknesses of subjectivity. NIR presents itself as a solution being quick and reliable with a greater potential of benefits including the identification of Fungus and disease.




Reference Section

Allison, M. J., Cowie, I. A. and McHale, R. (1976) 'a rapid test for the prediction of malting quality barley', Journal of the Inst. of Brew., 82, p. 166.


Burns, R. (1782) 'John Barleycorn: A Ballad'.


Fernández-Ibañez, V., Soldado, A., Martínez-Fernández, A. and de La Roza-Delgado, B. (2009) 'Application of near infrared spectroscopy for rapid detection of aflatoxin B1 in maize and barley as analytical quality assessment', Food Chemistry, 113(2), pp. 629-634.


Fox, G. P., Kelly, A., Sweeney, N. and Hocroft, D. M. (2011) 'Development of a Single Kernel NIR Barley Protein Calibration and Assessment of Variation in Protein on Grain Quality', Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 117(4), pp. 582-586.


Kendall, N. T. (1995) Handbook of brewing / edited by William A. Hardwick. Dekker.


McGoverin, C., Engelbrecht, P., Geladi, P. and Manley, M. (2011) 'Characterisation of non-viable whole barley, wheat and sorghum grains using near-infrared hyperspectral data and chemometrics', Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 401(7), pp. 2283-2289.


Palmer, G. H. (2006) Handbook of brewing edited by Fergus G. Priest and Graham G. Stewart. 2nd ed. edn. Hoboken: Hoboken : Taylor and Francis.


Ping, H., Wang, J. and Ren, G. (2013) 'Prediction of The Total Starch and Amylose Content in Barley using Near-Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy', Intelligent Automation & Soft Computing, 19(3), pp. 231-237.


Slack, C. R., Hancock, D. A., Hash-more, R. M. and Tunnicliffe, C. G. (1985) 'A SIMPLIFIED METHOD FOR ESTIMATING HOT WATER EXTRACT USING SMALL MALT SAMPLES', Journal of the Institute of Brewing, 92, pp. 262-263.


Zhang, G. (2010) Genetics and Improvement of Barley Malt Quality. Edited by Li, C., Springerlink and Link. Berlin, Heidelberg: Berlin, Heidelberg : Springer Berlin Heidelberg.



Wine Tour Of New Zealand

Jun 16th, 11:02 AM

Over the past two weeks I was fortunate to tour around the North Island of New Zealand and visit some of their great vineyards. The reason I picked New Zealand was that my friend who lives there has a car and he made the biggest of sacrifices of carting me around both literally and figuratively…

HWM ltd Hobbiton

Although New Zealand is famous for their Sauvignon blanc nearly every vineyard we visited had Chardonnay (always worth trying to judge a vineyards overall quality in my opinion), Syrah (from The Gravels), Viognier and a Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Malbec or Merlot. There were a couple that also produced Ports, Sparkling wines and Sweet wines (without the use of ‘noble root’). New Zealand has an ideal climate for wine, stretched well within the ideal 30 – 50 degree temperature bracket and surrounded by large bodies of water which regulate temperature. They also have acute hillsides and different soil types to allow for different varieties of grape to flourish.

A random piece of knowledge thrown at me from a couple vineyards was that 2013 was a great year for New Zealand, so look out for those.

We visited,

HWM ltd Obsidian wines

Obsidian on Waiheke island, a short ferry from Auckland. Provided an amazing Reserve 2016 Chardonnay which I gladly bought after the tasting (very similar to a Chablis). Included in the tasting is a nuzzle from their vineyard dog as well as biscuits and cheese.

Ransom Wines, near Matakana. We visited this classy vineyard en route to the Lions game in Whangarei. The winemaker spoke to us frankly while he served an exceptional selection of wines. Here I purchased their Rose (stay with me), it literally tasted of strawberries and cream – pure Wimbledon in a glass! They also have a sweet wine which is well worth a try and a dog!

HWM ltd Ransom Wines

Ascension wines in Matakana, another stop on the way to the Lions game. Ascension is a converted Mission (inherently common) which produces Port, sweet wines, sparking wines among other more humble varieties. Rather than selling by grape variety the vine yard names their wines such as The Druid, The Rogue etc. Well worth a visit to get a good quality selection of different wines and styles! We purchased the Rogue, a wine that was thought to be Pinot Gris but actually turned out be a rogue variety derived from Gewurztraminer and Semillon.

Mission HWM ltd

Millsreef in Bethlehem. This was the most generous and nicest tasting in New Zealand, if not the world! We were treated to so many samples and different wines here that it was a celestial experience that lived up to the town’s name. Go! Try their 2013 Syrah from the Gimblett Gravels – it’s literally the perfect example of a New Zealand Syrah from the world renowned Gravels region.

HWM ltd Millsreefsyrah HWm ltd

Needless to say we didn’t visit any vineyards in Rotorua. Should you have visited Rotorua you’ll be aware that the town hosts an unique aura…Do visit the Agrodome!

Mission, near Napier. Napier is well worth a visit, if not for Opossum world, but at least to step back in time to a 1930s art Deco small town! Napier was raised to the ground in 1931 by an earthquake but it was rebuilt in the then contemporary style of Art Deco. It sits amid the world-famous Hawke’s bay wine producing region. Mission, as you’d expect, is a converted mission which was established in 1851. It has wonderful vistas and a tremendous association with quality.



Church Road, near Napier. There is no hiding that Church Road are huge producers of bulk wine – the airport in Auckland has a huge selection of their stock. However, a visit to Church Road is well worth it as you can sample some exclusive wines only available at the vineyard and the bottles are generally a lot cheaper too.untitled_design_(8)

Crossroads, within Hawkes bay. We saved the best until last and only stumbled across this vineyard on the way home. They have a very intimate tasting room which includes illustrations of the different soil varieties vines can grow on. Our host was very generous again, providing the opportunity to sample 6 wines and a port for $5 NZD. Their fine Tawny port was delicious; tasting of marmalade and toffee dates. However, the Syrah from the Gravels was an absolute delight so I bought one.


New Zealand is much more than just a good place for ‘Sauvi’. I feel the Whisky industry has a lot to learn about how to host guests in comparison with the wine trade; a selection of tasting wines will cost on average $5.00 NZD (equal to approximately £3.00 GBP) and although you don’t get a tour of a winery thrown in you do get a good chat about the wine and hosts are very open. If you utter even the slightest knowledge of wine you’ll usually get more of the special stuff too and all the vineyards we visited would discount any bottle you bought with the cost of the taster. 

Always with a wine tour there are fun things to share, so here is a picture of our favourite Aberdeen fan, who placed an Aberdeen hat on his favourite sheep at the Agrodome..


No sheep or Kiwi were hurt in the making of this wine tour.


Kia Ora!!

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