The magic world of whiskey microbiota



Modern metagenomics techniques in combination with next generation sequencing are increasingly used for research of numerous environments inhabited by diverse microbiota. In the present study we focused on a rather unusual environment for their growth, a forgotten bottle of blended Scotch whiskey. Whiskey is a world-known popular spirit, traditionally produced in a series of steps comprising malting of barley, fermenting the malt to an alcoholic wort, distilling and at least 3-year long maturation in oak casks, followed by filtration. In the process, notably in the fermentation, microorganisms play a crucial role. However, we were primarily interested in potential microbiological and chemical changes that might have taken place over the years while the half-empty whiskey bottle was left open. We found that only a very low number of aerobic mesophilic bacteria survived in it while the ethanol content decreased from 40 % to approximately 30 %. Interestingly, the metagenomics analysis showed there was a large and diverse microbial community present in the forgotten whiskey. Among the most abundant microorganisms were members of human commensal microbiota, some potentially disease-causing and also food spoiling bacteria, in particular genus Pseudomonas. Surprisingly, we even found a non-negligible number of typically environmental bacterial species.


whiskey; metagenomics; bacteria

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