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Phenols in whisky

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Twelve volatile phenols were identified in whisky by combined gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Of these phenols 2,4-dimethylphenol was found for the first time in the aroma of whisky. The content of phenol, o-, m-, and p-cresol, guaiacol, p-ethylphenol, p-ethylguaiacol and eugenol in whiskies originating from different countries was determined by gas chromatography as their 2,4-dinitrophenyl ethers using electron capture detection. The results show that Scotch whiskies differ from others in the content of o-, m-, and p-cresol. The odour threshold values of phenols studied were determined in a 10% (v/v) ethanol-water mixture and in some cases also in the whiskies. Cresols have been found to make contribution to the aroma of Scotch whisky.

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Lehtonen, M. Phenols in whisky. Chromatographia 16, 201–203 (1982).

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