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Polyelectrolyte titration of whisky


Polyelectrolyte titration using a fluorescent indicator was applied to determine the electrolytic charges in 10 whiskies at various pH levels. Tannic acid was also titrated to compare the relation between pH and charge because the polyelectrolytes in whisky were postulated to be polyphenols, mainly tannic acid, which are gradually extracted from a wood cask over the years. Below pH 7, the pH-charge curves for whisky were analogous to those for tannic acid, indicating that carboxyl groups in tannic acid were fairly stable on maturation of the whisky. The charge of the tannic acid increased with increasing pH, whereas that of whisky had a tendency to level off. The degree of leveling off was higher for whiskies with longer maturation. These phenomena are believed to be due to the oxidation of pyrogallol and catechol moieties in tannic acid, which occurs during storage of the whisky. There was a clear tendency for the whiskies with higher prices to have higher charges, that is, a higher tannic acid content.


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Correspondence to Hiroo Tanaka.

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Tanaka, H., Tsukada, T., Ichiura, H. et al. Polyelectrolyte titration of whisky. J Wood Sci 46, 172–174 (2000).

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Key words

  • Whisky
  • Wood cask
  • Polyphenol
  • Tannic acid
  • Polyelectrolyte titration