Research Talks

Current Research in Brewing and Distilling

– Maillard Malts, NEIPA Haze, All Grain In Distilling, The Mycobiome Effect, Mixed Fermentations & New Sensory Techniques

THURSDAY, 23 February 2023. 18:00 - 20:00 GMT

By the Scottish Section

Hybrid seminar: delivered and attended in-person at Heriot-Watt and online

THURSDAY, 23 February 2023

18:00 - 20:00 GMT

Refreshments from 17.30

Postgraduate Centre Lecture Theatre
Building 18 on the map (link)

Heriot-Watt University
The Avenue
EH14 4AS

Nearest non-permit parking in Car Park I 

Learn about the latest research taking place in the drinks industry in Scotland.

Six speakers from Heriot-Watt University have been invited to give short talks on the current state of their research, into varied themes across the brewing and distilling sector. Sensory science, yeast and fungal microbiology, and the impact of process and raw materials on the production of beer and whisky are the key themes of the talks, which will be followed by a Q&A for the speakers.

Why You Should Attend:

  1. Take part in academic discussion 
  2. Opportunity to meet other drinks industry professionals and researchers.
  3. Understand more about the direction of research and development within the sector.


  • Heriot-Watt Campus is easily reached by bus from Edinburgh City Centre
  • Nearest non-permit parking in Car Park I 


Tickets: Free

Booking deadline: 20 Feb 2023

For any questions, please contact Barnaby Pownall 


Meet the Speakers

  • Rutele Marciulionyte - PhD student at Heriot-Watt University - Roasted malts for Scotch malt whisky: aroma development during fermentation
  • Joel Saunderson - PhD Student at Heriot-Watt University - Beer Turbidity: The Stability and Instability of Beer Haze
  • Alan Philp - Mossburn Distillers Ltd & PhD student at Heriot-Watt University – ‘All Grains In’ as a method of producing Scotch Whisky
  • Hannah Proctor - PhD student at Heriot-Watt University - Investigating the mycobiome of wooden washbacks in Scotch malt whisky production
  • Barnaby Pownall – Quality Manager at Whiplash Brewery Dublin & PhD student at Heriot-Watt University - Mixed-Culture Fermentation for More Complete Attenuation of High-Gravity Wort
  • Sally MacGarry - Scotch Whisky Research Institute & PhD student at Napier University - Aroma and Taste Effects of Ethanol on Components of Whisky Flavour

Rutele holds a BSc degree in Medicinal Chemistry from The University of Edinburgh. She’s worked at analytical laboratories for years, but also has copious professional experience in music festivals, beer bars and whisky events. Currently Rutele is a PhD student at Heriot-Watt University, where she combines her passion for chemistry and Scotch whisky.

Roasted malts are extensively used in brewing industry to enhance beer taste, mouthfeel and colour. The majority of Scotch malt whisky is made using unroasted, lightly kilned malted barley that yields only delicate aromas to the finished product, and the characteristics differentiating whisky of one distillery from another is primarily introduced by varied fermentation, distillation and maturation practices. With demand increasing for greater product variety, there is increasing interest in the use of specialty malts as a tool for aroma control. Rutele’s research is investigating malt roasting as a new way of introducing flavour volatiles to the spirit through Maillard and caramelisation reactions, and also the implications of such malts on yeast health, alcohol production efficiency and distillate quality.

Joel Saunderson graduated from an MSc in Brewing and Distillation at Heriot-Watt in 2020 having spent years crafting his skills initially as a home brewer.  After graduation Joel went on to start his own small brewery alongside a fellow HW graduate before becoming a technical brewer for William Bros in Alloa, one of the largest craft breweries in Scotland.  Having developed a passion for research during the master's program, Joel has now moved on to pursue a PhD within the brewing industry over the next four years.

Joel's PhD is centred around the stability and instability of haze within craft beers such as New England and West Coast IPA's.  With a global increase in demand for this style of beer over the past 10+ years, it has become apparent that haze is not consistent across the board in brands which can lead to a drop in flavour and aroma with consumer dissatisfaction a major concern.  By understanding what makes up beer haze, Joel's research aims to correct this issue and provide the knowledge to deliver a much more consistent product either through processing aids or a change in production techniques.

After completing his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University, Alan started work at the Reivers Distillery where he is now Distillery and Blend Manager. Alongside this, he is undertaking a PhD at Heriot-Watt university, where his research centres on the impact of the all grains in method of whisky production on spirit quality. All Grains In methodology is where there is no separation of grains and wort after mashing leading to a grains-on fermentation and grains-in distillation. This allows processing raw materials such as Rye which would otherwise be difficult for traditional methodology

Hannah obtained a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Glasgow before working as a microbiologist at a blue biotechnology start-up based at the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology in Oban. She has since swapped shellfish for whisky and is currently completing a PhD at Heriot-Watt University researching the role of microorganisms in whisky flavour.

Hannah’s PhD focuses on the influence of distillery microbiota on whisky flavour. During Scotch malt whisky production, fermentation was traditionally carried out in large wooden vessels known as washbacks. Although wooden washbacks are still widely used today, many distilleries are now opting for stainless steel vessels. When comparing new make and mature spirit produced in both types of vessel, differences in levels of flavour-active methyl ketones and their corresponding ‘green’ and ‘sour’ sensory attributes were observed. This research in collaboration with the Nikka Whisky Distilling Co. aims to investigate the origin of these flavours in whisky with focus on the fungal communities present on wooden washbacks.

Barnaby graduated from the University of Manchester with an MChem in 2014, during which time he published research in the area of computational chemistry. He subsequently attained an MSc in Fermented Beverage Science and Technology from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain (2016) where he conducted research into population dynamics and flavour production in mixed-culture fermentations. Upon graduation, he worked first as Cellar Brewer, and then as Quality Control Manager at Garage Beer Co. (Barcelona). In January 2020 he started a PhD at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, at Heriot-Watt University (Edinburgh), exploring the potential of mixed yeast fermentations in brewing. He moved to Dublin in January of this year to join Whiplash Brewery as their Quality Manager.

Sally is a PhD student at Napier University whose principal research theme relates to the impact of ethanol on whisky flavour. After undertaking an MRes in this topic in conjunction with the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, the project was extended to doctoral level. She spent a number of years of practical experience working in alcohol production in across the UK, Australia, and California, and has several qualifications in the industry, including a BSc Viticulture and Oenology and an MSc Brewing and Distilling.

Sally’s PhD researched is majoring upon novel sensory techniques aiming to eliminate the disparity between whisky sampling and alcohol bias when analysing differing strengths in samples in association with the Scotch Whisky Research Institute.