Researcher Profile

Brook Wilke

The Michigan Craft Beverage Council (MCBC) provided funding for our Michigan State University (MSU) malting barley research team to extend our work to other grains of interest, starting with cereal rye. We’ve been able to evaluate over 20 varieties of rye for their suitability to be grown for grain production and be used to produce spirits – most notably rye whiskey. It turns out that rye varieties are very different in their agronomic, winter survival, and distilling characteristics. We’ve generally found that higher yielding varieties tend to have milder flavor profiles, and low yielding varieties tend to have spicier flavor profiles. We have some preliminary evidence that suggests the growing location also influences the flavor profile of the rye, but are starting a new project to dive into this question in more detail.

I’m super excited about the connections that I’ve been able to make in the distilling industry through the MCBC projects. We have some really great and innovative spirit producers in the state of Michigan, and the MCBC projects have provided avenues for connections to many of these individuals and businesses. The opportunity to continue to help facilitate the success of Michigan distilleries and farms sustains my motivation for this work!

View research reports from Brook’s work in our database. Search keyword Rye

About Wilke

The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station - Long Term Agroecosystem Research

Michigan State University Extension - Malting Barley

Brook Wilke