Folks, drink whiskey! To your health!
Hmmm…they are talking about phenols, which generally derive from smoke (e.g. peat), no? Do charred oak barrels (as used for American bourbon whiskey) also provide phenols, I wonder?
A bit more research says yes to the last question, but it may take over 18 years to develop high concentrations. And aged whiskey (and red wine) definitely increases antioxidants in the bloodstream, versus un-aged whiskey that caused a drop, affects lasting several hours.
They are speaking about plant based polyphenols that enter the whiskey via the barrel mainly. The polyphenols in whisky are a complex mixture of products. Some are from the natural polyphenols in the oak wood called ellagitannins. Some are created from ellagitannins that are chemically altered during the barrel seasoning and toasting process. Also during the aging process, oxygen molecules are absorbed through the wood further oxidising the dissolved phenolic compounds. It’s very complex indeed.
The two articles above do not speak to the malt drying operation. If they use peat as the fuel source to dry the malt, the phenols in the peat can give the whiskey a desirable smokey flavor.