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Spotlight wheat alcohol: the reason for its high popularity

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Spotlight wheat alcohol: the reason for its high popularity

Wheat alcohol, also known as wheat ethyl alcohol or wheat ENA, is a type of grain alcohol that is derived from the fermentation and distillation of wheat grains. Many consumers prefer wheat alcohol to other types of grain alcohols, such as corn or barley ethyl alcohol. But what are the reasons for that? And are there also any disadvantages of using wheat alcohol?

Reasons for favourability

Reason 1: Higher purity

First of all, wheat alcohol has a higher purity than other types of grain alcohol; it is a cleaner grain than corn or barley, meaning it is less likely to contain impurities like mold or mycotoxins. As a result, the fermentation and distillation process for wheat alcohol is typically less complex than for other grain alcohols, which can lead to a final product with higher purity.

Reason 2: Favourable flavour

Wheat alcohol has a milder flavor and aroma than other types of grain alcohol because of its lower level of oil content which can contribute to a harsher taste and smell in the final product. As a result, wheat alcohol is often preferred for use in food and beverage production, where a mild taste and aroma are desired in order to let primary flavours stand out, especially in products such as vodka.

Reason 3: Sustainability

Wheat alcohol is often considered to be more sustainable than other types of grain alcohol since the raw material is a relatively fast-growing crop that requires comparably less fertilizer and water. Wheat can also be grown in a wider range of climates and soil types, which makes it a more versatile crop for farmers. Therefore, the production of wheat alcohol can have a lower environmental impact than other types of grain alcohol.

Reason 4: Customs and traditions

Last but not least, wheat alcohol has a long history of use in European cultures and traditions. It is a staple crop in many European countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, and the production of wheat alcohol has been part of the region's cultural and culinary heritage for centuries. This long-standing tradition has helped to establish wheat alcohol as a high-quality and prestigious product in the eyes of many consumers.

Nedstar wheat grain

Challenges and disadvantages of working with wheat alcohol

However, there are also some potential drawbacks to using wheat alcohol. One of the main challenges is that wheat is more expensive than other grains, resulting in the production of wheat alcohol being more costly than other types of grain alcohol. This makes wheat alcohol less accessible to some consumers or industries, for example in emerging markets in Africa.

Additionally, wheat alcohol is not suitable for all countries and types of industrial applications. For example, corn ethyl alcohol is often used as a fuel additive in the United States, where corn is a widely grown crop and the infrastructure for corn ethanol production is well-established. Similarly, barley ethyl alcohol is better suited for use in certain industrial applications, such as in the production of cleaning agents or disinfectants.

Wheat alcohol: the king of food and beverage industry?

Wheat alcohol’s many potential advantages and favourable properties have definitely contributed to its popularity across the whole world. However, the more expensive price tag and uselessness for some industrial applications make it unfit for consumers looking for an allround and cost-effective solution. While these consumer will look for other types of grain alcohol, such as corn or barley ethyl alcohol, Europe’s agricultural infrastructure and close cultural ties to this product promise more demand for wheat - for centuries to come.

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