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The Science of Smooth: Voodoo and Ginkgo's Gentle Spirits Revolution

Food & Nutrition
Emerging Technologies
by
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June 30, 2023

In a quest to smooth out the sharp bite often associated with distilled spirits, Voodoo Scientific has teamed up with Ginkgo Bioworks to create a unique enzymatic solution. Voodoo Scientific, a pioneer in delivering impactful innovation for distillers, and Ginkgo Bioworks, the market leader in cell programming and biosecurity, revealed plans today to capitalize on Ginkgo's Enzyme Services to refine this groundbreaking technology.

This daring collaborative effort aims to assist distillers in producing ultra-premium spirits with a smoother finish. The harsh sensation or "bite" frequently experienced while consuming distilled alcohol has long served as a deterrent for many prospective consumers. Traditional mellowing techniques have proven insufficient in completely eradicating this negative aspect. By homing in on the root cause, Voodoo Scientific has engineered a solution that enables distillers to gain control over the smoothness of their products. This, in turn, allows for the development of new flavor profiles across a spectrum of spirits, from vodkas to whiskies.

Joana Montenegro, co-founder, and Chief Science Officer at Voodoo, spoke about the opportunity to refine the drinking experience, stating, "Providing distillers with a means to eliminate, or control, the harshness of their spirits products is very gratifying." Montenegro pointed out the potential for transformative innovation within the industry and added, "We believe we can enable new innovation in this large global industry and in ways that are truly meaningful to consumers seeking premium experiences. Ginkgo was the best choice of partners for us among the ones we considered because of their unique combination of strong scientific capabilities and a business model that fits an early-stage company like ours."

The innovative enzyme provided by Voodoo is programmed to neutralize the specific compounds responsible for the harshness of alcohol without interfering with the beverage's overall flavor profile. Notably, implementing this enzyme doesn't necessitate modifications to existing production processes or equipment as it is simply added during fermentation, ensuring it doesn't carry over into the final bottled product. This pioneering approach recently earned Voodoo Scientific recognition as a top innovation at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) annual conference.

Jennifer Wipf, SVP, Head of Commercial Cell Engineering at Ginkgo, echoed the sentiment, noting the suitability of this application for Ginkgo Enzyme Services. "Engineering this class of enzyme to operate under the unique conditions required for distilled alcoholic beverages is a great application for Ginkgo Enzyme Services," she said, adding, "Improving the functionality of enzymes underpinning critical production processes - making enzymes work better—is an area we're passionate about because it opens up real business opportunities for our customers, especially as they push into new product development."

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