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Scottish scientists rewarded for work on retaining the angel's share

Published:  23 November, 2015

A team at Edinburgh Napier University has won Queen's Anniversary Prize for its work, which includes developing a whisky barrel that retains the "angel's share".

Up to a fifth of a whisky barrel's contents can be lost to evaporation during the maturing process.

The lost spirit is known colloquially as the "angel's share".

The university's Centre for Timber Engineering was approached by Diageo to help solve the problem without compromising the quality of the spirit.

Part of the challenge was to use traditional barrel-making techniques, but to reduce evaporation through an understanding of the behaviour of wood.

Professor Abdy Kermani, who led the team, told The Herald: "We worked using the existing cask and improved that so that the reduction was at an absolute minimum."

No additional substances, such as glue, were used to change the construction of the casks.

The maturing process can take decades, but early signs are very promising, the team has said.

The Scotch whisky industry currently supports some 40,300 jobs.

Napier University's Centre for Timber Engineering was founded in 2003. Its work now contributes some £65million a year to the UK timber and construction industry.