• lamb aroma;
  • castration;
  • headspace aroma;
  • aroma;
  • 4,6-dimethyl-1,3-oxathiane;
  • 4-methyloctanoic acid;
  • 4-methylnonanoic acid


Minced lamb samples (lean meat or adipose tissue) from 12-week-old ram lambs and wethers were fried in the absence of added fat. The headspace aroma components were isolated onto Tenax GC prior to thermal desorption. A total of 132 compounds were identified and a further 31 were partially characterised by GC-MS, 49 of which are reported here for the first time as components of sheep meat aroma. One of these, 4,6-dimethyl-1,3-oxathiane, which has not previously been reported in any meat, was associated with a ‘stale/wet animal’ odour. All aroma isolates were dominated by products of lipid degradation with aliphatic aldehydes present in the highest relative amounts. Certain branched-chain fatty acids have been implicated in the characteristic aroma of sheep meat, and 4-methyloctanoic and 4-methylnonanoic acids were identified at higher levels in the adipose tissue from entires than from wethers.