• ellagic acid;
  • lyoniresinol;
  • polyphenol;
  • reactive oxygen scavenger;
  • whiskey

ABSTRACT:  The quality of whiskey is known to improve remarkably by its storage over many years. This process is commonly termed “maturing.” In this process, polyphenols derived from lignin and tannin of the barrel have an important role in not only forming the matured flavor and taste but also contributing to the advance of clustering ethanol and water in whiskey. It is also likely that polyphenols generally possess reactive oxygen (RO) scavenging activity. The present study evaluated the RO scavenging activity (free-radical scavenging activity, H2O2 reduction activity under peroxidase coculture, and H2O2scavenging activity) of 24 single malt whiskeys with a maturation age of 10 to 30 y produced in Japanese, Scotch (Islay), or Scotch (Speyside and Highland) regions. Single malt whiskey not only showed RO scavenging activity but there was also a positive correlation between this activity and the maturation age of whiskey exceeding the difference resulting from the manufacturing region. A nonvolatile fraction derived from the barrel was responsible for RO scavenging activity. In particular, the contents of ellagic and gallic acids and lyoniresinol, the main polyphenolic compounds in whiskey, increased with maturation age. For the free-radical scavenging activity per molecule, each compound was 1.68 to 3.14 times that of trolox (a water-soluble vitamin E). The activities of ellagic acid, gallic acid, and lyoniresinol in the whiskey (Yamazaki 18) were equivalent to that of 80.3, 31.2, and 11.1 ppm trolox, respectively. Accordingly, the total activity of these 3 compounds accounted for about 20% of the activity of the whiskey (630.7 ppm trolox).