Assessment of the antioxidant potential of Scotch whiskeys by electron spin resonance spectroscopy: relationship to hydroxyl-containing aromatic components

D B McPhail, P T Gardner, G G Duthie, G M Steele, K Reid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Electron spin resonance (ESR) spectroscopy has been used to assess the antioxidant capacity of eight Scotch whiskeys by measuring the extent by which the original spirits, or pyridine solutions of their residues, reduced Fremy's radical or galvinoxyl radical. All whiskeys displayed antioxidant activity greater than that of a 0.2 mM solution of Trolox in the Fremy's assay and of a 0.1 mM solution of quercetin in the galvinoxyl assay. The relative antioxidant capacities determined according to the two assays were highly correlated and strongly related to the total phenol content as determined by using the Folin-Ciocalteu method. Activity was a consequence of maturation in oak casks with the "newmake" spirit showing no effect. Of 10 aromatic constituents analyzed, activity was most strongly correlated with ellagic acid and gallic acid in both assays. The reductive capacities of four major phenolics were determined, which, in summation, accounted for 31-53% of the total antioxidant activity of the whiskeys. There was no evidence for synergistic interaction between the phenols investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1937-1941
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 1999


  • whiskey
  • phenolic
  • ESR spectroscopy
  • antioxidant
  • free radical
  • maturation

Cite this