14 March 2021: I have not updated this page in ages, but since I added the last two blogposts I really should. A lot of the information below can be substantiated and updated. I recommend you read these blog posts first.

  1. 22 February 2021: Whisky Terroir: Further substantiation of the concept
  2. 12 March 2021: Terroir: Natural Terroir Units / Terron

The concept of Terroir in the Whisky World is a widely discussed concept and many opinions about the concept can be found on the internet. This page is not about the many different opinions about the concept, but it is about the science that investigates the concept. This page is also not meant to prove or disprove the concept. This page is about all the science that I have found available and what it tells me.

I have been blogging about Terroir in whisky for a while now and the amount of information has become so much that I have lost track of all the information I have already put on my blog. So this page is, mostly, for me to organise all the stuff.

Definitions of Terroir (see Blog post of 12th March 2021 for better definition)

For the definition of the word “Terroir” I am selecting (Choice) to use the definition provided by the Oxford Dictionary, Dictionary.com and Collins English Dictionary.

This Oxford Dictionary definition is given when you google “Define: Terroir“.

Oxford Dictionary:

The complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate. The characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.

Source: https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/terroir retrieved 29 November 2019

Dictionary.com

1: The environmental conditions, especially soil and climate, in which grapes are grown and that give a wine its unique flavor and aroma:
The high quality of the region’s terroir.
2: Also called goût de ter·roir [goo duh ter-wahr; gooduh ter-war] . the unique flavor and aroma of a wine that is attributed to the growing environment of the grapes.
3: The conditions in which a food is grown or produced and that give the food its unique characteristics:
grass-fed beef with an Idaho terroir.

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/browse/terroir retrieved 29 November 2019

Collins Dictionary

“winemaking: The combination of factors, including soil, climate and environment, that gives a wine its distinctive character”

Source: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/terroir retrieved 29 November 2019

I wanted to add something to sum up the definitions, but that would constitute an opinion. So no comments on the definitions. I did make some words BOLD.

Terroir influences

The definition of the word Terroir gives some information of the influences which may, to some degree, have effect on Barley. These are [14]:

  • Effect of air temperature
  • Effect of solar radiation
  • Effect of nitrogen status
  • Effect of water status

When you think of temperature, this influence is influenced by location, longitude, latitude, cloud cover, sun power, season … in short “climate”.

Without water nothing grows. Water (H2O) in it’s pure form is not found in nature. It always has something other in it. Like chalk, limestone, nutrients, pollution, etc, etc. the list is too long.

Hey! Nutrients! Nitrogen compounds such as ammonia and ammonium nitrate etc are Nutrients. And the funny thing is. The way soils is around the globe is, here it comes, not a constant! The soils in my garden is very different in my garden here in Holland compared to, for instance, the fields of Coull Farm on Islay! Stuff that grows here on clay and imported sand wont grow on other kinds of soils. I don’t have to explain this I am sure? 😉

The image below is a poor attempt to tell that the sun, clouds, wind, soil composition and water sources have influences on how stuff grows. You knew this right? I had this basic information explained to me when I was like 6. And no, there is no need to “believe” any of this, since these are facts.

a poor illustration of Terroir Influences on Barley

List of Blog entries:

I have written multiple blogs about terroir and I have listed them below in order of publication:

  1. 28 Juli 2018: Does “Terroir” influence the Barley?
  2. 28 Juli 2018: Does “Terroir” influence the Whisky?
  3. 12 October 2018: Terroir has influence on flavour
  4. 3 January 2019: Whisky “Terroir” Research
  5. 3 February 2019: Focusing my Terroir Research
  6. 8 March 2019: Barley Terroir Investigations
  7. 17 May 2019: Terroir Research: Environmental impact on protein profiles
  8. 15 Juli 2019: What can Wine Grape Terroir teach Barley Terroir?
  9. 29 September 2019: Definitive Science Shows Terroir influences Whiskey
  10. 20 January 2020: Kew, et al. about “Whisky Terroir”
  11. 16 February 2020: Terroir: How Sensory Destructive is Distillation?
  12. 14 Juli 2020: Terroir and “Specific Weight” of malted Barley
  13. 5 August 2020: Terroir in Waterford New Make Spirit
  14. 30 November 2020: Terroir, advancements in Wine research and link to whisky
  15. 22 February 2021: Whisky Terroir: Further substantiation of the concept
  16. 12 March 2021: Terroir: Natural Terroir Units / Terron

The earlier blogs will show I am establishing the concept and doing some binary thesis proving. The Thesis “Terroir has no influence on Whisky” was disproven in the first two blogs. A binary disproval of the concept that Terroir has no (please note the double negative) influence does not equal that the actual influence has a noticeable, significant or correlating impact on the sensory perception of the final product.

The rest of blogs are about what I found in science papers from that moment in time onwards.

Some blogs investigate the soil impact. Some blogs investigate the effects the environment has on the development of barley during growth.

Like I said, I am not writing an opinion about Terroir as influence on Whisky. I am listing the science. Do enjoy all the reading! Cheers!

References:

  1. Asian Journal of Chemistry, Vol. 22, No. 3 (2010), 2397-2406, Chemical Analysis of Barley Under Different Irrigation and Fertilizing Systems, S. MALEKI FARAHANI, M.R. CHAICHI*, D. MAZAHERI, R. TAVAKKOL AFSHARI and G. SAVAGHEBI, University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Tehran, Karaj, Iran. : FinalPubishedGrainAnalysisArticle2007
  2. J. Inst. Brew., November-December, 1988, Vol. 96,pp. 375-378 375, INFLUENCE OF SOIL NUTRIENT LEVELS ON HARVEST YIELD AND MALTING QUALITY OF BREWING
    BARLEY, Gyorgy Bendek ; download here
  3. Whisky, Technology, Production and Marketing, Elsevier, 2003,  Edited by: Inge Russell, Graham Stewart, Charlie Bamforth and Inge Russell ISBN: 978-0-12-669202-0
  4. Ann Van Holle, Anita Van Landschoot, Isabel Roldán-Ruiz, Dirk Naudts and Denis De Keukeleire (2017), The brewing value of Amarillo hops ( Humulus lupulus L.) grown in northwestern USA: A preliminary study of terroir significance, Journal- Institute of Brewing 123(3), DOI: 10.1002/jib.433
  5. Roullier-Gall, C., Lucio, M., Noret, L., Schmitt-Kopplin, P., and Gougeon, R. D. (2014), How subtle is the ‘terroir’ effect? Chemistry-related signatures of two ‘climats de Bourgogne’, PLoS One 9 (5), e97615. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone. 0097615.
  6. Hao Luo, Stefan Harasymow, Blakely Paynter, Aaron MacLeod, Marta S. Izydorczyk, John T. O’Donovan and Chengdao Li., “Genetic and environmental impact on proteinprofiles in barley and malt”, JIB, Volume 125, Issue 1, 2019, Pages 28-38, https://doi.org/10.1002/jib.532
  7. Cornelis van Leeuwen and Gerard Sequin, The Concept of Terroir in Viticulture, Journal of Wine Research, 2006, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 1–10, DOI: 10.1080/09571260600633135The concept of terroir in viticultureDownload
  8. Arnold RJ, Ochoa A, Kerth CR, Miller RK, Murray SC (2019), Assessing the impact of corn variety and Texas terroir on flavor and alcohol yield in new-make bourbon whiskey. PLoS ONE 14(8): e0220787., https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. pone.0220787
  9. Will Kew, Ian Goodall, Dušan Uhrín, Analysis of Scotch Whisky by H NMR and chemometrics yields insight into its complex chemistry, Food Chemistry, Volume 298, 15 November 2019, 125052, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.125052
  10. Heather Ann Heinz, Joe Travis Elkins, Comparison of unaged and barrel aged whiskies from the same Mash Bill using gas chromatography / mass spectrometry, Journal of Brewing and Distilling, Vol. 8(1), pp. 1-6, June 2019, DOI: 10.5897/JBD2018.0051, Article Number: 7081B3F61216
  11. Aaron Hoyle, Maree Brennan, Nicholas Pitts, Gail E.Jackson, Steve Hoad, Relationship between specific weight of spring barley and malt quality, Journal of Cereal Science, Volume 95, September 2020, 103006, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcs.2020.103006
  12. Richard F. Tester, Influence of growth conditions on barley starch properties, International Journal of Biological Macromolecules 21(1-2):37-45, September 1997 DOI: 10.1016/S0141-8130(97)00039-1
  13. Cornelis van Leeuwen, Jean-Christophe Barbe, Philippe Darriet, Olivier Geffroy, Eric Gomès, Sabine Guillaumie, Pierre Helwi, Justine Laboyrie, Georgia Lytra, Nicolas Le Menn, Stéphanie Marchand, Magali Picard, Alexandre Pons, Armin Schüttler and Cécile Thibon, Recent advancements in understanding the terroir effect on aromas in grapes and wines, 5 November 2020, VINE AND WINE OPEN ACCESS JOURNAL, DOI:10.20870/oeno-one.2020.54.4.3983, https://oeno-one.eu/article/view/3983
  14. Rob Arnold, The Terroir of Whiskey, A Distiller’s Journey Into the Flavor of Place, Columbia University Press | 2021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.7312/arno19458
  15. Kyraleou, M.; Herb, D.; O’Reilly, G.; Conway, N.; Bryan, T.; Kilcawley, K.N. The Impact of Terroir on the Flavour of Single Malt Whisk(e)y New Make Spirit. Foods 2021, 10, 443. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10020443
  16. Peng, Yi & Roell, Yannik & Odgers, Nathan & Møller, Anders Bjørn & Beucher, Amélie & Greve, Mette & Greve, Mogens. (2021). Mapping and describing natural terroir units in Denmark. Geoderma. 394. 115014. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2021.115014
  17. Laville, P., (1993). Unités de terroir naturel et terroir. Une distinction nécessaire pour redonner plus de cohérence au système d’appellation d’origine. Bull. OIV 745 (746), 227–251.
  18. Carré, Florence & Mcbratney, Alex. (2005). Digital terron mapping. Geoderma. 128. 340-353. 10.1016/j.geoderma.2005.04.012.