Written Paper

Authentication of straight whiskey by determination of the ratio of furfural to 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde  [1999]

Jaganathan, J. Dugar, S.M.

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms regulations require that a straight whiskey be aged in a freshly charred oak barrel for a minimum of 2 years and that it not be colored with added caramel. The regulations, however, permit addition of caramel in blended whiskeys. Blended whiskeys are usually produced by mixing a straight whiskey with neutral spirits which causes loss of color intensity. Caramel addition is permitted to compensate for this loss. Thus, it is not possible to authenticate the standard of identity of a straight whiskey by measurement of color intensity. Our investigations suggest that furfural (2-furaldehyde) and 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde are imparted into a straight whiskey during aging in a freshly charred oak barrel. Caramel, on the other hand, imparts only 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde. Thus, the measurement of the concentrations of furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde and their ratio could effectively authenticate the standard of identity of straight whiskeys. This study shows that straight whiskeys aged in freshly charred oak barrels for a period of 2 years or more have a 2:1 or higher ratio of furfural to 5-hydroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde. A high-performance liquid chromatographic method for the determination of furfural and 5-hyroxymethyl-2-furaldehyde at low parts-per-million levels is described.

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Journal of AOAC International

ISSN : 1060-3271