Yeast, the overlooked Superpower: In the greed ridden Thatcherite 80’s, a primary goal in whisky making, became higher alcohol yields. Yeast were created to withstand higher temperatures – producing less esters and more alcohols. The cost of this is a neutral flavour spirit profile. Companies who focus on creating new make spirit or ‘PBS’ within narrow flavour parameters, rely heavily on casks to flavour their spirit. This explains why some distillers tell that 60 – 70% of flavour comes from their cask: it’s true. Other distillers create spirit which is 100 % flavour and get 100 % flavour from the cask (analogy) Now, many distillers are relearning the value of yeast.
At the Blenders Evening in Glasgow I drank whisky from Miyagikyo Distillery in Japan. This whisky is made with 10 different yeasts. This demonstrates a fascinating awareness of the subtleties of fermentation. Fermentation is an intrinsic process in flavour compound creation.