GMOs and Whiskey

There’s been a lot of discussion about GMO’s and whiskey lately. I can’t say that I’m surprised by all the anxiety. It’s a hot topic without even bringing whiskey into the conversation.

Quite a few distilleries only use non-GMO corn in their mashes (Buffalo Trace, Four Roses, Wild Turkey). They don’t really advertise this fact, though. I’m not so sure that those distilleries can be positive about whether or not the corn they buy hasn’t been cross-pollinated by neighboring fields, anyway. That being said, in FACT, any genetic material that might go into your whiskey would be removed entirely by the distillation process.

My question is, what makes a superior corn mash? Would a person in 2015 be able to tell the difference (in flavor) between different corn strains from different areas of the country?

“Western farmers (western Pennsylvania,Ohio,Kentucky and Tennessee) in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, were credited with producing better corn and wheat and barley, then grown in eastern states, and producing a better whiskey from the vast quantities of corn grown in their fertile lands.” (Oscar Getz)

Do we even know the difference anymore? We are a long way from the farmer/distillers of the past. Most distillers will tell you that the flavor of corn is very prevalent fresh off the still in the clear distillate, but over years of aging, corn becomes neutral. It mostly adds to the over all sweetness of the finished product.