An Explanation of Bourbon Mushrooms

Students from the University of Kentucky are looking for new ways to utilize spent grains from the bourbon distillation process.


Spent grains are being used to grow fungi. | Photo courtesy of UK’s College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment

It’s no secret that the bourbon industry is booming, becoming a $9-billion industry as of this year.

Unfortunately, with the production of more bourbon comes a bit more waste, specifically spent grains.

Spent grains are essentially what’s left after the distillation process — corn, barley, wheat, and rye that no longer contain fermentable sugars.

Distilleries usually look to cattle farmers to utilize excess spent grain materials, but there just aren’t enough cattle to utilize all of the leftover material.

Students at the University of Kentucky have been working to mitigate this issue + they think they’ve come up with a solution — Bourbon Mushrooms.

It turns out, the spent grains are actually beneficial for fungi production. The students are currently researching with oyster mushrooms with hopes of expanding to lion’s mane and shitake mushrooms in the future.

These types of mushrooms sell for $15-$25 a pound, giving researchers hope that these studies could lead to significant environmental + economic impacts across the Commonwealth.

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