In the Welsh Wind is a distillery located in Tanygroes, Ceredigion, which produces gins, whiskies and other spirits using local ingredients where possible. It was following a chance encounter with Dr Geraint Morgan, who visited the distillery with his parents, who live in Aberystwyth, that its relationship with the OU began.
‘I’m from a space science background,’ explains Dr Morgan, from the OU’s School of Physical Sciences. ‘The Open University has invested in high end equipment to characterise rocks from space or meterorites, and that technique can also be applied to whisky.
The Open University has invested in high end equipment to characterise rocks from space or meterorites, and that technique can also be applied to whisky.Dr Geraint Morgan
‘Whisky is very complicated – it has several hundred compounds present. We can separate all those compounds, and analyse and understand how much of each compound is present. So, we can look at the processes that In the Welsh Wind are uniquely using, and be able to tell them what differences it makes.’
Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and specialist software, the team have been able to identify and quantify nearly 400 compounds in different batches of whisky, and chart how these are affected by changes in temperature, processes and ingredients.
‘The possible uses of these results are numerous for us,’ says Ellen Wakelam, Owner and Director at In the Welsh Wind. ‘They will help us identify which congeners are being produced in our final distilled spirit and help us to refine our procedures to develop our signature aroma profile.
‘The results should help us produce different aroma profiles for the different types of spirits we create, as we develop and grow as a distillery. We will also be able to investigate evidence of the presence of ‘terroir’ in our whisky as the origin of our Welsh barley is an important part of our story and USP in Wales.’
Since working with the OU, In the Welsh Wind has continued to grow its profile as a Welsh distillery, and as an important local employer. Its product gained an additional boost earlier last month, when single malt Welsh whisky was given UK Geographical Indication (UK GI) status.
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