Texas A&M Corn Breeder Takes Texas Whiskey To Capitol Hill
Dr. Seth Murray, associate professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences and Butler Chair for Corn Breeding and Genetics at Texas A&M University, recently conducted a whiskey tasting on Capitol Hill to help educate legislators on the importance of public agriculture research.
Murray’s presentation was part of the Hill Lunch-N-Learn seminar series sponsored by the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR).
More than 100 Congressional staff members had the opportunity to taste three Texas whiskeys as Murray discussed research he and his graduate student, Rob Arnold, are doing into the effect corn variety has on the flavor.
Arnold is working toward his Ph.D. in Plant Breeding through Texas A&M’s distance program while working as the head distiller at Firestone & Robertson Distillery in Fort Worth.
Murray and Arnold were the subjects of a nationally syndicated Reuters feature that documented their efforts to help bring local identities to American whiskeys “in the same way as specific grapes define the taste of wine from California’s Napa Valley or a Bordeaux produced in southwest France.”
Staffers had the opportunity to taste F&R’s commercially available “TX” whiskey, and two samples which had been aged for a year and a half in matched oak barrels. One of the matched samples was made from a TAMU experimental hybrid grown in Burleson County and the other from a commercial corn variety produced in Hill County.
“The staffers liked the whiskey, but more importantly they thought the flavors of the two matched samples were very different,” Murray said. “This is great because it shows that different corns do make a difference.”
Murray also noted that seasoned whiskey drinkers preferred the Texas A&M corn while the staffers who do not like whiskey preferred that made with commercial corn.
National C-FAR hosts the Lunch-N-Learn presentations to help staffers appreciate the importance of food and agriculture research and to facilitate more informed staff recommendations to members of Congress about food and agriculture research and education funding.