Abstract Jarrad GollihueWill SersonHarlen WheatleySeth DeBolt

Profile and Content of Fatty Acid in New and Used Bourbon Whiskey Barrels

Jarrad Gollihue, Will Serson, Harlen Wheatley, and Seth DeBolt * 
*University of Kentucky, N-318 Ag Sciences Center University of Kentucky, Lexington , KY 40546-0091 (sdebo2@uky.edu) 

Barrel maturation imparts volatiles into the distillate; these volatile compounds arise from different components of the wood breaking down over time. These breakdown products are influenced by barrel modification, weathering, kiln drying, and thermal degradation. Fatty acids are a minor element in wood and are found in whiskey, but are generally filtered out before sale. This element of wood-distillate interaction has not previously been studied. It remains unclear whether fatty acid content and profile change during whiskey maturation and barrel modification. In this study, we examined the total content of fatty acids by preforming a soxlet extraction on barrel wood with petroleum ether and measuring the total weight change after completion. Fatty acid profiles and abundance values were established using GC FID. The extracted fatty composition showed changes from both barrel modification and from maturation of whisky. We continued surveying the fatty acid profile to include various fractions throughout the barrel stave and found that content and compositional shifts occur throughout the barrel staves.

Funding Support: NSF EPSCOR