Qingke liquor is a very famous Tibetan alcoholic beverage made from "Qingke", hull-less highland barley, which is exclusively grown in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau with an average altitude of 4000 m. Qingke liquor made in such an area whose quality or characteristics is a result of its geographic environment, including natural and human culture. In this study, the aroma compounds in two Qingke liquors made from highland barley grown at different elevations (QKH, high elevation, and QKL, low elevation) were compared by aroma extract dilution analysis (AEDA), aroma intensity (Osme), odor activity values (OAVs, ratio of concentration to odor threshold), and aroma recombination. Results revealed ethyl acetate, ethyl 2-methyl propanoate, ethyl butanoate, ethyl 3-methyl butanoate, ethyl pentanoate, ethyl hexanoate, ethyl octanoate, 3-methylbutanal, 3-methyl-1-butanol, 1-octen-3-ol, β-damascenone, 2,3-butanedione (diacetyl), acetoin, and 2-methoxyphenol (OAV ≥ 10) as important aroma active compounds to Qingke liquors. However, QKH had higher OAVs for most of the compounds than that of QKL. An aroma recombination study confirmed the analysis of aroma-active compounds in Qingke liquor, whereas the aroma emission test demonstrated 3-methylbutanal as the key aroma compound for both Qingke liquors.
Keywords: Q-value; Qingke liquor; aroma extract dilution analysis; odor active value; stable isotope dilution analysis.