4-Hydroxy-2 (or 5)-ethyl-5 (or 2)-methyl-3(2H)-furanone (HEMF) is an important flavor compound that contributes to the sensory properties of many natural products, particularly soy sauce and soybean paste. The compound exhibits a caramel-like aroma and several important physiological activities, such as strong antioxidant activity. HEMF is produced by yeast species in soy sauce manufacturing; however, the enzymes involved in HEMF production remain unknown, hindering efforts to breed yeasts with high-level HEMF production. In this study, we identified high-level HEMF-producing mutants among a Saccharomyces cerevisiae gene deletion mutant collection. Fourteen deletion mutants were screened as high-level HEMF-producing mutants, and the ADH1 gene deletion mutant (adh1Δ) exhibited the maximum HEMF production capacity. Further investigations of the adh1Δ mutant implied that acetaldehyde accumulation contributes to HEMF production, agreeing with previous findings. Therefore, acetaldehyde might be a precursor for HEMF. The ADH1 gene deletion mutant of Zygosaccharomyces rouxii, which is the dominant strain of yeast found during soy sauce fermentation, also produces HEMF effectively, suggesting that acetaldehyde accumulation might be a benchmark for breeding industrial yeasts with excellent HEMF production abilities.