Malting Barley for North American distillers: Novel GN0 winter barley varieties meet and exceed contemporary expectations
  • 02/01/2024

Malting Barley for North American distillers: Novel GN0 winter barley varieties meet and exceed contemporary expectations

This article was recently published in the Journal of Distilling Science (Volume 3, No. 1, January 30, 2024)


Click here to access the full article.


Authors: Campbell P. Morrissy, Scott P. Fisk, Jarrad W. Gollihue, Hayley Sutton, Harmonie M. Bettenhausen, Brad J. Berron, Patrick M. Hayes


Abstract: The use of barley varieties that are non-producers of glycosidic nitrile (GN0) to produce distilling malt is commonplace in countries where the compound is tightly regulated. However, in the US, where only voluntary limits are in place, the trait has only recently been demanded by distillers. The GN0 allele was identified in the 1990’s, and was found to be inherited in a simple Mendelian fashion and recently North American breeders have been able to introgress it into their varieties. Further, winter malting barley has been of interest to the entire supply chain due to inherent ecosystem advantages over spring barley and all the entries evaluated here are winter growth habit. This work evaluated whether two novel GN0 winter barley genotypes (Top Shelf and DH170472) would meet the end-use expectations of the malting variety Thunder, a GN producer. The three lines were assessed in a pipeline of malting, distilling, and sensory and this manuscript is one of only a few to focus on the direct effects of barley genotype on spirit sensory. It was found that both novel lines produced suitable malt and distillate, but sensory evaluation did not find strong differences among the three. Further, Top Shelf proved to have positive attributes for both all-malt and grain distilling and has potential to be used as a dual-purpose variety depending on field management and growing environment. This work shows the potential for North American GN0 winter barley varieties for the domestic distilling industry.