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Water, water everywhere

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Water, water everywhere

Postby Glen » Thu Aug 02, 2001 3:22 pm

Why do distilleries insist on refering to the "authentic" spring waters used in the distillation process when we all know that all Malts are just tankered off to a bottling plant and watered down with the Glasgow tap? I find it insulting to my intelligence that these marketing chaps insist on talking such rot. Just be honest about the process, its not rocket science!
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Postby lexkraai » Thu Aug 02, 2001 3:55 pm

Hi Glen

When distilleries talk about water from that and that spring, they mean water used in creating the wash, etc, before distillation. The water used for dilution before bottling will often come from a completely different source, depending on where the bottling hall is situated. Only very few distilleries bottle at the distillery site.

Cheers, Lex
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Postby Glen » Thu Aug 02, 2001 4:00 pm

Hi Lex,

Indeed. But it rather makes a mockery of the emphasis placed on the source of water, don't you think?

I suppose the big question is are those distilleries that bottle on site producing a better quality, more authentic malt by doing so?
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Postby lexkraai » Fri Aug 03, 2001 8:07 am

Hi Glen

FAIK, Glenfiddich and Springbank are the only ones bottling on-site. Would you feel that those two are much more authentic, higher-quality than all the rest? Guess not, and neither would I.

I very much doubt that the influence of the water source on the final taste is significant, or even detectable (given of course, that pure water is used). I played around a bit with this in an article in WM 14, where I tried to find a link between the taste of a whisky and the rock type near the distillery. The analysis I did could not detect any such link (which doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there; I just couldn't detect it). This suggests to me that the influence, if any, will be minor and be swamped by other factors (such as the wood).

Cheers, Lex
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Aug 03, 2001 8:51 am

Good point Glen! I couldn't agree more Image There are too many marketing myths in the Scotch malt whisky world and this is yet another sad example of that practicE: Stretching the truth too far Image

Lex, perhaps we should not jump to conclusions here. Before we get the opportunity of comparing malts watered down with the "Authentic Spring Water" and "Plain Glasgow Tap Water", we don't really know, do we?

Glenfiddich and Springbank are the only distilleries that truthfully can say "we use only local springwater" on their bottles

Regards,

Martin B
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Postby Xavier » Fri Aug 03, 2001 9:20 am

In his book "Appreciating whisky" Pip Hill confirms what Lex says about the influence of water on the taste : almost impossible to detect.

But I remember Ian "Laphroaig" (when I was visiting the distillery on Islay) explaining that soft or hard water can really influence the distillation process.

Voilà.
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Postby lexkraai » Fri Aug 03, 2001 9:34 am

Hi Xavier

One doesn't necessarily exclude the other: hard/soft water may very well influence the distillation process (I don't have enough chemical knowledge to understand exactly how), but that influence may become almost undetectable in the subsequent maturation process.

Slainte, Lex
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Postby Glen » Fri Aug 03, 2001 1:35 pm

Hello again,

Sorry to go on about this but it does strike me as absurd. This is an extract from Glenmorangie's website: "Mineral rich water

The water itself comes from the Tarlogie Springs, which rises cheerfully and magically about a mile above the distillery. Set about with pines, the crystal pool is secluded and mysterious, its surface gently troubled by the waters bubbling up from below.

These waters once fell as rain on the Hill of Tain, in the shadow of where the springs are discovered, then filtered down through lime and sandstone rocks, gathering precious minerals on the way, before rising again at Tarlogie.

Water is used in every stage of the distillation process.

It can take up to one hundred years for the falling rain to re-emerge as spring water—'the water of Glenmorangie's life'. So precious is our source of water that we acquired the entire catchment area of the Spring—some 650 acres. "

To which they then add nearly a third of a litre of de-mineralised water at the dilution stage.

I am sure the Yanks lap up this nonsense, but doesn't it over-sentimentalise a wonderfully straightforward process. I think I might start a one man "Cut the Crap in Malt" campaign! Image
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Postby Iain » Fri Aug 03, 2001 2:32 pm

Just as the whisky industry has the Scotch Whisky Association to guard its interests, perhaps consumers needs a "Scotch Whisky Drinkers' Association."

The SWDA - the perfect body to launch your "Cut the Crap" campaign!

PS: Never could understand how "pure spring water" can be full of "precious minerals." ;-)
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Postby St.Peat » Fri Aug 03, 2001 7:46 pm

I like the idea of a Society of Truth, even though I am sure we don't want to know ALL of the truth Image

Glen and Iain, here are some suggested societal acronyms:
QUAICH: Quit Untrue Advertising Inclusively.Choose Honesty.
DRAM: Drinkers' Revolution in Advertising & Marketing.
WASH: Whisky Advertising Society for Honesty.
DRAFF: Drinkers Revolt Against Fundamental Falsehoods.
GLEN: Grand Lies Elevate Nothing.

Lex -- is it possible for you to forward in email to me a copy of your contribution to WM Issue 14? Sounds interesting, and I always enjoy your thoughts.

Slainte!
Mark Image
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Postby yorkie » Sun Aug 05, 2001 12:19 pm

So what do most of us do when we pour ourselves a large dram?.....add some good old corporation water out of the tap or at best some Highland Spring water that has never been near a distillery...so unless we all pick up a bottle of Tarlogie Spring water with our Glenmorangie or Ben Rinnes Spring water with our Glenfarclas the discussion is rather pointless. But wait, maybe the marketing men might just pick this whizzo idea up and produce a combination pack of a full bottle of whisky c/w a half bottle of spring water.

However the main benefit of using "refined" water for topping up the bottles is one of health reasons, the distillation process ensures that any "unpalatables" in the source water are either left behind in the still or boiled until harmless, I think I'll stick with the present system thanks.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Aug 05, 2001 6:49 pm

Yorkie, if someone tells us "we use only local spring water" while using refined water/tap water for bottling, then they are lying to us. If not illegal, then it is at least considered bad marketing practice.

There are no "health benefits" using refined water instead of mineral water. But it is cheaper...

Mineral water is subject to a number of regulations, not forgetting several from the EU.

Regards/M
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Postby yorkie » Mon Aug 06, 2001 7:19 pm

I agree with you that if distillers make misleading statements they should be brought to task BUT I do not believe that the desire to be "authentic" should run to adding untreated source water to my bottle of whisky. Some distilleries sources of water are rivers, lochs and reservoirs to which even with the current problems sheep have "free" access. Especially when you further dilute the drink with your own unauthentic water when you get it home. I agree those distilleries with true spring sources may have pure enough water to undertake the dilution process.
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