Scientists in Singapore have turned leftover tofu whey into a 7- to 8-percent ABV beverage described as fruity, floral and a tad sweet.

Mike Pomranz
November 27, 2017

After a long day, a nice tipple can serve as a relaxing way to unwind the mind. But in recent years, we’ve seen innovative alcohol producers add additional peace of mind to those drinks as well by making boozy beverages that benefit the environment by utilizing food waste as a primary ingredient – everything from beer made from old tomatoes to vodka made with expired Twinkies. However, this latest news may be one of the most unique uses of a food byproduct yet: Scientists in Singapore have created what they are calling a completely new alcoholic beverage developed from the whey leftover when making tofu.

Named “Sachi” – which is inspired by the Japanese word for “bliss” – this tofu byproduct beverage was described by tasters as having “fruity” notes “similar to white wine or sake” with an alcohol content of about 7 to 8 percent. The new drink was developed at the National University of Singapore by Associate Professor Liu Shao Quan and PhD student Mr Chua Jian Yong who specifically set out to turn whey waste in to something boozy.

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“The traditional way of manufacturing tofu produces a large amount of whey [which] is wasteful,” Chua explained in a statement. “Very little research has been done to transform tofu whey into edible food and beverage products. I had previously worked on alcohol fermentation during my undergraduate studies in NUS, so I decided to take up the challenge of producing an alcoholic beverage using the whey. The drink turned out to be tasty, which is a pleasant surprise.”

Though the researcher team behind Sachi is already looking for industry partners to bring their beverage to the public, it might still be awhile before it’s available commercially. According to Business Insider, in its current form, Sachi only has a shelf-life of about four months when refrigerated, so the scientists are hoping to develop a way to make the drink last longer under normal conditions. Still, assuming Sachi does make it to retail, it will arrive with another benefit of being a tofu-derived product: “It is the only alcoholic beverage that has isoflavones, which contribute to health benefits like bone health, heart health and cancer-prevention,” said Lui. So that’s one department where it’s got sake beat.

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