The quality of the food we eat is dependent upon the quality of the environment in which the food was grown. And because alcoholic beverages are made from crops and fruits, their taste and quality are also dependent upon environmental conditions. A recent study focused on barley, the grain crop used in whiskey, found out how environmental conditions affect the flavor of the said alcoholic beverage.
This is [the] first scientific study that found the environmental conditions, or terroir, of where the barley is grown impacts the flavor of whiskey, said Dustin Herb, an author of the study and a courtesy faculty member in the Department of Crop and Soil Science at Oregon State University.
"Terroir is increasingly being used to differentiate and market agricultural products, most commonly wine, as consumers grow more interested in the origins of their food," Herb said. "Understanding terroir is something that involves a lot of research, a lot of time and a lot of dedication. Our research shows that environmental conditions in which the barley is grown have a significant impact."
Herb's doctoral research at Oregon State with Pat Hayes, a barley breeder in the College of Agricultural Sciences, focused on the contributions of barley to beer flavor. Their research found notable differences in the taste of beers malted from barley varieties reputed to have flavor qualities.
"What this does is actually make the farmer and the producer come to the forefront of the product," Herb said. "It gets to the point where we might have more choices and it might provide an opportunity for a smaller brewer or a smaller distiller or a smaller baker to capitalize on their terroir, like we see in the wine industry with a Napa Valley wine, or Willamette Valley wine or a French Bordeaux."
Learn more about this study over at EurekAlert.
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