M-81: The types and properties of yeasts and bacteria isolated during a microbiological survey of Lindores Abbey

C. J. Burke (1), R. A. SPEERS (1), A. E. Hill (1); (1) ICBD-HWU, Edinburgh, U.K.


Scotch whisky has a long and rich history and aqua vitae production from malted barley is believed to have first begun at Lindores Abbey, located to the east of Newburgh, Scotland, in the old Kingdom of Fife, in 1494. The purpose of this study was to isolate and identify the indigenous yeast at Lindores Abbey that may be used to recreate a fermentation environment similar to that found during production of the first Scotch. The types of wild bacteria were also surveyed to determine how they could affect malt fermentation behavior. Air and swab samples were collected from three sites around Lindores Abbey using seven different types of media. The yeast and bacterial isolates were recognized by colony and microscopic morphology. Yeast isolates were identified using the API 20C Aux test and by partial 26S ribosomal gene sequencing, whereas representative bacteria colonies were identified by partial 16S ribosomal gene sequencing. Pseudomonas was the only bacteria identified that may affect the flavor of whisky. Two Metschnikowia species of yeast, M. koreensis and M. fructicola, could initiate fermentation, while Debaryomyces hansenii may impart a yeasty or estery flavor. Three strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were capable of growth above 37°C in malt extract broth, with LCBG-3D6 displaying the most promise as a commercial production yeast strain.

Alex Speers is a professor and the director of the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland. Previously he was a professor in the Food Science program at Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada. Born in Creston, BC, Canada, he gained B.S. (Agr.), M.S., and Ph.D. degrees at UBC in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In the past, Alex has been employed in the Quality Assurance Departments of both Labatt and Molson Breweries. His current research interests include various aspects of the brewing and distilling process, including fermentability, yeast flocculation, fermentation modeling, extract calculations, and the properties of (and problems created by) barley malt. He has organized, presented, or participated in brewing events in the United States, Australia, Canada, China, and Ireland. Alex has spent sabbaticals at CUB/Fosters in Melbourne, Australia, and the Columbia Brewing Company in Creston. He is a past chair of the editorial board of the MBAA Technical Quarterly. Alex belongs to several professional societies and is a member of the editorial boards of the ASBC Journal, JIB, and TQ. He has published or presented more than 150 papers, is a Fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and a chartered scientist. In 2011 he received the W. J. Eva award from the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

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