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The Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast is one of the most widely used eukaryotes in a large variety of industrial processes such as ethanol production. Alcoholic fermentation is one of the critical points. There are salient differences between the yeast strains employed for neutral spirits and those used in whisky, rum, and brandy fermentation. The former white spirit processes aim to minimize the synthesis of volatile compounds. Five commercial strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were compared for ethanol production. The appearance and rehydration, bacterial contamination, reproductive ability, fermentation activity and metabolism of yeast were studied. A significant difference was established in the total, viable and dead cell counts: between 15.71×109 and 58.59×109 total cells.g-1 dry product. The levels of bacterial cells were considerably below the permissible limits. Similar reproduction and fermentation activities were found but there were differences in the fermentation dynamics, which is very important for this production. The coefficients of sugar conversion into alcohol were between 0.574 and 0.595. The differences in the substrate utilization and synthesis of certain higher alcohols and acetic acid were established. Some of the commercial strains studied were recommended for wheat ethanol production on the basis of the results of the study.
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