Japanese scientists make alcohol from wood

Researchers at Japan’s Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute have developed an alcoholic beverage made from tree bark, which it says resembles the qualities of an alcohol aged in wooden barrels.

The team claim to have produced an alcohol beverage from tree bark that carries different qualities, depending on the type of tree used.

The 15% abv alcohol is made by pulverising wood into a creamy paste and then adding yeast and an enzyme to start the fermentation process, according to Tokyo’s Straits Times.

By avoiding using heat, researchers say they are able to preserve the specific flavour of each tree’s wood, and have already produced variants from trees including cedar, birch and cherry.

Having experimented with both brewed and distilled versions of the alcohol, the team said that the alcohol presents better as a distilled beverage, with 4kg of cedar wood producing around 3.8 litres of liquid.

The institute was set up in 1905 with the mandate of carrying out research relating to Japan’s forests and forest products industries to ensure the sustainability and protection of natural resources.

Researcher Kengo Magara acknowledged that “wood alcohol” might not be the most beneficial use of its resources, but referred to the venture as a “dream-inspired” project.

The government institute aims to commercialise the product with a private-sector partner and have the liquor on shelves within three years.

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