The thermotolerant, ethanol-producing yeast strain, Kluyveromyces marxianus IMB3 was grown on media consisting of straw-supplemented distillery spent wash from The Old Bushmill's Distillery Co. Ltd., Bushmills, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland. Media were supplemented with cellulase activity and fermentations were carried out at 45 degrees C. When pulverized straw was used as substrate in this system at concentrations of 2, 4 and 6% (w/v), ethanol concentrations increased to maxima of 1.45, 2.2 and 3 g/l, respectively. Based on straw containing a maximum of 40% cellulose, these ethanol concentrations accounted for 36, 27 and 24% of the maximum theoretical yield, respectively. When the straw was pre-treated with NaOH and used in the spent wash containing system at concentrations of 2, 4 and 6% (w/v) ethanol, concentrations increased to maxima of 3, 6.2 and 10.5 g/l, respectively and these accounted for 75, 76 and 86% of the maximum theoretical yield. When these results are compared with previously published data relating to the use of straw in laboratory-based media, they suggest that whiskey distillery spent wash may provide an adequate medium for supplementation with complex carbohydrate and subsequent ethanol production in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation processes.