colour of scotch whisky


Just returned from a two week tour in Scotland and have visited a couple of distilleries. I noticed that at the end of the distillation process the whisky is invariably a colorless white liquid. Then I always ask the same question : do the distilleries add some colouring agent after distillation ? The answer always is : no, no, no, no colouring, it's the wood in the cask. Sorry, this I can either believe nor understand. There have to be some tricks here ... and how then are there very old whiskies that are almost colorless ? How can the specialists comment on this ? All this scepticism is not making m a less whisky-lover though
Frank
Reply to
Frank G

Oh Man don't make them post the "List" again..
The Casks the distillers use come in 4 major types.. First and Second Fill Bourbon and Sherry.. The colour leaches out of the barrels over time. Second Fill Bourbon Casks have already had much of the colour leached out as they have been holding whisky for a number of years, the palest single cask whiskies come from these. Next are usually first fill bourbon Casks, and then Second fill Sherry Butts, though there can certainly be some variation here as an older second fill Sherry Butt may have lost enough colour to make the spirit lighter than a new Bourbon Cask. First fill Sherry Butts are responsible for the darkest of all whiskies since they have absorbed so much colour they have the most to leach into the new whisky.
FWIW .. many bottlers wont tell you up front what type of single cask the whisky came from, and since there are those like me who don't often like highly Sherried whiskies colour is the only guide, making online shopping really hard.
(1) Some companies use caramel colour to keep their product consistant, because it is hard to determine exactly what colour the whisky will be when it is bottled they just tweak it a bit to avoid having people think the product has been changed in some way.
Reply to
ajames54
Well, think about it. Oak barrels with a layer of char on the inside are used for the storage. The liquid soaks into the char layer. Behind the char layer is an area in the wood where it has developed a caramel layer. That gives you sweetness and color, the oak beyond gives more flavor, and so on. Depending on what the barrel housed previously (Bourbon, Sherry, Port, etc) you'll get the other complexities going on.
So, yup, comes out clear, and the color comes from the aging. Apparently some makers also add coloring but I have a hard time getting worked up about that.
Reply to
Dave Hinz

The message from "ajames54" contains these words:
Pretty well all blended whiskies (and many singles) are coloured, as the law permits, with caramel, which is burnt sugar. In my distant youth whisky bottled for sale in Scotland was markedly paler than that exported to England and elsewhere.
If you want something to object about, I'd much prefer you went for chill filtering!
Richard
Reply to
Richard Spencer

See all you need to do is refrence the list and that arguements start!
I'm not objecting, personally I don't care about the colour except as an indicator to what type of maturation the whisky has had.
But they chill filter for the same reasons they colour.. they don't want people looking at the product and saying "WTF?"
Reply to
ajames54

That's the first time I ever heard the term "chill filtering" with respect to scotch. What is it, and what brands are doing it? Is it a bad thing?
Thanks, Jonathan
Reply to
newjazzharmony

There are oils suspended in scotch (disolved in the alcohol), if water is added or indeed even if the scotch gets chilled these oils precipitate out and make the whisky cloudy. Many people find the cloudyness to be unapealing.. major bottlers don't want their clients looking at the product and going "EEEEWWWW! Whats that?" so they chill filter.
They drop the whisky to a low temperature so the oils precipitate out and run the whisky through a fine filter trapping and removing the oils.
Sadly these oils are responsible for carrying a lot of the flavour that we like in whisky..
good explanation here.
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Sorry but I've not seen a list..
Reply to
ajames54

I've mentioned it here before that I once sampled two bottles of Arran side by side - same age etc but one CF and t'other NCF. I was surprised to find that I preferred the filtered version.
I'd quite like to be able to do a similar test with a caramel/non-caramel pairing.
Reply to
the man with no idea

According to Michael Jackson's book, the cloudiness is usually only a problem with those who put their whisky drinks in the refrigerator, or who add ice to the glass, something that most serious whisky drinkers would never do. Chill filtering is usually done on blended whisky because the less serious drinkers prefer the lower prices. Most SMS bottled as such is not chill filtered for that reason.
Reply to
mdavis

If the standard (non cask strength) Laphroiag 10 yr old is chill-filtered, then chill filtering can't be too deleterious. It has a complex, robust flavor and a nice syrupy mouth feel, so a lot of the essential oils seem to have survived the chill-filtering.
I would like to try the cask strength for comparison, though.
Reply to
newjazzharmony

Not questioning your information, Fredrik (I'm here to learn), but is it safe to assume that ALL SMSs "are" chill-filtered unless it says NOT on the label? It seems to me that the issue of chill-filtering is only a recent concern, is it not, with the resergence of SMS? SMS drinkers are more serious about their whisky than those who drink blended scotch and who are more likely to chill a mixed drink or use ice in a glass. I can see why blended whisky bottled for general commercial sale is at risk for cloudiness over ice, but I don't know any SMS fans who drink their whisky that way. Why, then, would distillers go to the extra trouble and cost of chill-filtering?
Reply to
mdavis

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Yup.. that is pretty much how I understand it..
Nice time for it..
nk,
ggood heavens but that's an impressive list!
I've been to most and only Cardhu and Glen Grant were iffy.
When on Skye try to eat at The Three Chimneys .. one of the best meals I've had in my life..(and I've had a lot of good meals) Talisker as a tour wasn't too exciting but when you add dinner at the end of the day the trip is worth it.
A lot of people were turned off by the cost of the Aberlour tour.. if you are not driving take it anyway.. the tasting at the end is well worth it.
again if you're not driving get the laphroig vertical they offer at the end of the tour. Then go to Ardbeg for lunch.
If you are looking for another good meal on Islay the Port Charlotte hotel has really nice dining in the main room and pretty darn good regular food in the bar.. (nice bar)
Again, if you're driving be careful on the road to Bunnahabhain.. if you meet a truck you'll be backing up a long way. Too bad you missed the old ferry slips at Port Askaig that was sure fun ..
Since you will be in the area make sure you see GlenFarclas.
Let me know if there are any Broras other than the Rare Malts available at Brora/Clynelish.. it is one I've not been to but since I'm such a Brora fan...
Oh! Most important thing! Ask the tour guides (at least those that are not simply summer guides) intelligent questions, ( like that will be a problem!) I found that most of them are really passionate about what they do and if you ask interesting and engaged questions they tell you a lot more and have a lot more fun with the process.. you can also get some really nice perks. Whisky right out of the cask at a couple places, more exotic than standard tastings at others.. non scheduled verticals at Glenfarclas, Bruichladich and Ardbeg.
Damn now I'm all jealous
Reply to
ajames54

Uzytkownik "ajames54" napisal:
Nice time for it..
ggood heavens but that's an impressive list!
I've been to most and only Cardhu and Glen Grant were iffy.
[snip!]
Actually, I have already been to most of these before. And yes, I know the Port Charlotte hotel :-) And the Kiln Cafe at Ardbeg :-) And yes, I have been to Port Askaig before they reconstructed the entire site :-) Oh, and yes, Glenfarclas is on my list. Absolutely :-) Will be my third visit there ;-) And yes, you should be jealous ;-) Thanks for the hints anyway :-) Will report back when I return home some time at the end of August. Back to packing...
Cheers, Rajmund
--
http://www.whisky.pl
http://www.bestofwhisky.pl
Reply to
Rajmund

Impressive tour list! Maybe someday .......
Thanks to those who replied on the issue of chill-filtering. It does seem a bit odd that SMS connoisseurs would be concerned about cloudiness, assuming they do not pour fine spirits over ice or add cold water. Perhaps the period of decline in SMS in which most output was destined for the blenders, and hence less discriminate buyers, is responsible for the process of chill-filtering, and it has not been removed with the resurgence of interest in SMS. I would be interested in knowing when the filtering process began, then, as an industry "standard" for commercially diluted bottlings.
Reply to
mdavis

I'm quite sure the chill-filtering is not done to please SMS connoisseurs, who I think would generally prefer no chill-filtering so that as little as possible of the character of the malt is lost. I think we here in this company would probably like as many of our malts as possible as they come out of the cask, with no dilution to 40 or 43 per cent abv, no chill-filtering and no caramel colouring.
Rather it is aimed at the distilleries' impression of less informed drinkers, who they fear will be disturbed by the occasional bit of cloudiness.
bill
Reply to
bill van

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