The Scotch Whisky Research Institute

Sensory Science

Our expert sensory panel provides the essential data on flavour required for many of our research projects. The panel has a high level of experience in the evaluation of whiskies and other spirit drinks. Tests are carried out under controlled conditions in our dedicated sensory laboratory, with data collected and analysed using specialised sensory software. 

Our Facilities

Cereal Science

‚ÄčOur cereals laboratory, including micromaltings, allows 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 also carry out distilling quality analysis of new varieties going through field trials.

The Scotch Whisky Research Institute is based in The Robertson Trust Building, a purpose built facility situated in the Heriot Watt Research Park on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Our laboratories, dedicated to spirit drinks research, are equipped with the specialised equipment required to carry out work on the entire production process from raw materials to bottling. 

Maturation Science

Our controlled environment maturation store allows us to artificially manipulate maturation conditions (temperature and humidity) so that we can understand the effect of the warehouse environment on losses and spirit quality. 

Analytical Chemistry

Compositional analysis of spirit underpins our fundamental research and product protection work. We have a suite of chromatographic instruments dedicated to the analysis of whisky and other spirit drinks. This includes GC, GC-MS, HPLC, UPLC and LC-MS. We also have a Gas Chromatography-Olfactometer which helps us understand the link between whisky composition and flavour. 

Primary Processing

Our pilot plant allows us to produce spirit at a bench-top scale for sensory and compositional to help us understand the impact of all production parameters. Flow Cytometer is a rapid, high-throughput screening tool used in our research to understand yeast and fermentation performance.