Our Laboratories

Analytical chemistry laboratory

Our analytical laboratory houses a suite of instruments dedicated to the study of Scotch Whisky and other spirit drinks. Various techniques deliver routine analyses such as GC-FID for higher alcohols and UPLC for measuring cask extractive compounds. Complementing this we continually add new technologies such as LC-MS, GC-MS with olfactometry and GC-MS/MS to further our understanding of these complex matrices.

Sensory laboratory

Our expert panel has extensive experience in the sensory evaluation of whiskies, other spirit drinks and associated production samples. Tests are carried out in our sensory laboratory under controlled conditions, with data collected using specialised sensory software. The panel provides the essential measure of flavour required for many of our research projects.

Cereals laboratory

Our cereals laboratory, including micro maltings, enables us to participate in large collaborative research projects to improve our fundamental understanding of wheat and barley and support the development of new varieties with properties suitable for distilling. We can also investigate other cereals and processes for their suitability for Scotch Whisky production. We carry out distilling quality analysis of new wheat varieties going through the National and Recommended List trials.

Microbiology laboratory

Our microbiology laboratory has an extensive range of tools to help investigate yeast and fermentation. Our equipment includes laboratory-scale fermentations, for testing the performance of new yeast strains in terms of yield and flavour, and a flow cytometer, to rapidly assess yeast viability and vitality. In addition to yeast, we can also determine the full range of microbes within a fermentation using rapid DNA sequencing.

Pilot plant

In our pilot plant, we can produce spirit at a bench-top scale. We have the flexibility to alter process parameters and examine the impact on flavour and composition. Our brewing system is used to investigate high-gravity mashing and includes a Fourier-Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectrometer used to evaluate real-time changes in sugar profiles, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. We also have small-scale stills, fabricated in both copper and stainless steel.

Controlled maturation store

This store provides a controlled environment for whisky maturation with programmable temperature and humidity. We carry out experiments to understand the effect of the warehouse environment on cask losses, due to evaporation or leaks, and spirit quality.