Twenty-five Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains were screened for the highest sugar tolerance, ethanol-tolerance, ethanol production, and inhibitor resistance, and S. cerevisiae KL5 was selected as the best strain. Inhibitor cocktail (100%) was composed of 75 mM formic acid, 75 mM acetic acid, 30 mM furfural, 30 mM hydroxymethyl furfural (HMF), and 2.7 mM vanillin. The cells of strain KL5 were treated with γ-irradiation, and among the survivals, KL5- G2 with improved inhibitor resistance and the highest ethanol yield in the presence of inhibitor cocktail was selected. The KL5-G2 strain was adapted to inhibitor cocktail by sequential transfer of cultures to a minimal YNB medium containing increasing concentrations of inhibitor cocktail. After 10 times of adaptation, most of the isolated colonies could grow in YNB with 80% inhibitor cocktail, whereas the parental KL5 strain could not grow at all. Among the various adapted strains, the best strain (KL5-G2-A9) producing the highest ethanol yield in the presence of inhibitor cocktail was selected. In a complex YP medium containing 60% inhibitor cocktail and 5% glucose, the theoretical yield and productivity (at 48 h) of KL5- G2-A9 were 81.3% and 0.304 g/l/h, respectively, whereas those of KL5 were 20.8% and 0.072 g/l/h, respectively. KL5-G2-A9 reduced the concentrations of HMF, furfural, and vanillin in the medium in much faster rates than KL5.