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why is caramel allowed in Scotch Whisky?

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why is caramel allowed in Scotch Whisky?

Postby Marvin » Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:09 pm

Why are whisky companies allowed to add caramel to colour their whisky? Do you think it should be banned?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:53 am

'cause it tastes so yummy. Can't get enough of it. Hmm, hmmm 8)
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Postby StephenBaird » Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:11 am

caramel is included in whisky beacause Scots have an incredibly sweet tooth

:wink:
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:40 pm

It's used for coloring, that's the quick answer and is used to smooth out the variations between batches of whisky, most commonly & historically in blends. The longer answer involves the Scotch Whisky Act and the evolution of the industry. I am quite certain that as more and more consumers become better educated about whisky they will demand and end to the use of caramel and chill filetring, we're already seeing the postitve effect but it's going to take time.
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Postby Marvin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 4:51 pm

I'm sure I read recently that Highland Park are going to stop using caramel.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:19 pm

Marvin wrote:I'm sure I read recently that Highland Park are going to stop using caramel.


I must say it's about time! It's been obvious for some time that it was heavily caramelized. I never used to notice it but now I do in the taste of these and Bowmores, et al and it's quite off-putting.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 9:56 pm

Just to put this into context, while we're at it, lets then ban also all cognac - for they put caramel into their lovely spiritus as well..Alas! What about rum?!
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Postby Marvin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:10 pm

M.R.J. wrote:Just to put this into context, while we're at it, lets then ban also all cognac - for they put caramel into their lovely spiritus as well..Alas! What about rum?!


Rum has an excuse - sugar cane is what it's distilled from.

I agree about Cognac too, it should stop using caramel too.
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Postby Marvin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:12 pm

btw you still see every month in Whisky Magazine reviewers describing to us a malt's lovely colour.

If you're reading this, whisky reviewers, yes we do laugh at you you pricks! :lol:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:15 pm

Rum may have an excuse to certain extent, but actually I doubt that caramel colouring all comes from sugar cane sugar..

Truth to be said, I sincerely doubt you taste the caramel colouring in all the whiskies etc. where it is used. Lets not forget - it is a colouring ingredient, and this is one of the oldest myths in spirits industry that we can taste the caramel in the spirits. In most cases, I would say no, we cannot. I've asked this from so many whisky experts, and also conducted some experiements into this matter. Unless the caramel colouring is blatantly overdone, you do not taste it.
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Postby Marvin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:17 pm

You can taste the caramel in cola. Just because it's used as a colouring doesnt mean it's flavourless. That's a bit of a leap in logic.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:22 pm

Marvin - cola uses it rather heavily, with other sugary things added. Actually I should say some cola do not use it at all I gather - on the other side of the Atlantic these varieties are called 'diet' and they have nutrasweet, no sugar!

The comparison to cola would not come to my mind as the first thing, to be honest. Lets have some respect to the professionalism and skills of the people behind our favourite drams. They do not go out of their way to spoil the drams, I feel.

Honestly, I would urge anyone complaining about this issue to do a proper down-to-earth self-investigation into this matter more thoroughly before crying wolf. It isn't all that.
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Postby Marvin » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:28 pm

M.R.J. wrote:Marvin - cola uses it rather heavily, with other sugary things added. Actually I should say some cola do not use it at all I gather - on the other side of the Atlantic these varieties are called 'diet' and they have nutrasweet, no sugar!


Incorrect. Diet colas still have the colour caramel added (E150d to be precise).

The only other "sugary things" added to cola is sugar. Caramel is not sugar, it was but it has undergone a chemical change to transform it from sugar. Caramel the colouring has a bitter taste. I once had a can of Coke that had obviously had too much caramel added and it tasted pretty nasty.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:45 pm

Indeed.

E150 caramel, plain caramel

E150b caustic sulphite caramel

E150c ammonia caramel

E150d sulphite ammonia caramel

If you are so concerned of the colouring, and claim so strongly to be able to aptly taste it in any whisky, I can only state you must be amongst the luckies of us all. For in your region, you have several whisky specialist stores that can offer you a massive variety of whiskies to sip which are not tainted by these additives. There are many bottlings from indie-bottlers (as indeed from distilleries themselves) which are not using any caramel. Vive la freedom of choice!

Personally, I would be hard-pressed to be so worried about slight colouring added to some whiskies. As stated, this is to me amongst the urban whisky purist legends, right up there with the water used for diluting whisky to bottling strength, and that all chill-filtered whisky is bad, etc. etc.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Oct 22, 2006 10:56 pm

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Postby Wave » Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:28 am

Marvin wrote:btw you still see every month in Whisky Magazine reviewers describing to us a malt's lovely colour.

If you're reading this, whisky reviewers, yes we do laugh at you you pricks! :lol:


I'll continue to post the color of a whisky with my tasting notes, not so much so that the minority can get their kicks but for the majority that actually care about good whiskies........carmelled or not.


:P
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:53 am

M.R.J. wrote:Rum may have an excuse to certain extent, but actually I doubt that caramel colouring all comes from sugar cane sugar..

Truth to be said, I sincerely doubt you taste the caramel colouring in all the whiskies etc. where it is used. Lets not forget - it is a colouring ingredient, and this is one of the oldest myths in spirits industry that we can taste the caramel in the spirits. In most cases, I would say no, we cannot. I've asked this from so many whisky experts, and also conducted some experiements into this matter. Unless the caramel colouring is blatantly overdone, you do not taste it.


I disagree, it can be tasted and in many cases it 'dulls' the whisky.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:03 pm

It would be a sporting challenge to issue a tasting of caramel-coloured vs not with some of you who claim to taste it always! :)

Hats off to those amogst us with such a refined palate, personally I'm not so concerned of this as I already stated. The used amount varies quite a lot also I believe. The main intent is to uniformalize colour, not to make whisky black.

:wink:
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Oct 23, 2006 12:29 pm

I don't know if I'm able to detect caramelisation or not but I do feel it's a bad thing. I can understand (if I try very very hard) that blended whisky is given such a treatment all the time it's more "consumer focused" for the mass market - but seriuosly? Isn't the single malt market very different? Isn't this a market for enthusiasts and appreciators of the best quality? I think of single malt as a paralell to the "slow food" and local produce revolution. I don't want anything in it that shouldn't be there in the first place. A variation of colour over time or among batches would only serve to justify "quality" as something handcrafted by people with special skills instead of adding conformity and uniformity. I cannot with my best will understand why it is good for me to have my single malt coloured? Henry Ford took the liberty of only making black T-Fords - but a coloured single malt feels like having to buy a black Aston Martin when everyone in their right mind know it looks best in British Racing Green.

Sorry for the rant!
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Oct 23, 2006 1:50 pm

I prefer my Aston Martin to be a metalic Caramel colour :lol:
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Postby kallaskander » Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:07 pm

Hi there,

http://www.foodreactions.org/allergy/additives/100.html

We are talking about minute amounts of E150 in any batch of malt or blend.

"A minute quantity of E150-a is enough to give a one litre bottle of water the looks of a 'Dark Sherry' maturation, so our 200ml could be used to colour a small loch!"

From http://www.maltmadness.com/mm17.html

I do not like it myself but I am sure in a normally coloured whisky you can not taste it.

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Mon Oct 23, 2006 5:37 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I prefer my Aston Martin to be a metalic Caramel colour :lol:

Yes, but then I did write "everyone in their right mind" :P What would become of the world if we had to cope with a horde of irish madmen racing all over in caramel coloured Aston Martins!

Kallaskander, you've got some good points. I cannot argue against that and as I said I'm not sure I'm able to detect caramel in a whisky. But I still think it shouldn't be done with a quality product like single malt. It's the comfort of knowing it's clean and untampered with.
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Postby Marvin » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:03 pm

Wave wrote:
Marvin wrote:btw you still see every month in Whisky Magazine reviewers describing to us a malt's lovely colour.

If you're reading this, whisky reviewers, yes we do laugh at you you pricks! :lol:


I'll continue to post the color of a whisky with my tasting notes, not so much so that the minority can get their kicks but for the majority that actually care about good whiskies........carmelled or not.


:P


Why though? I care about good whiskies, carameled or not, but the colour is just not relevant.
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Postby Marvin » Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:05 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

http://www.foodreactions.org/allergy/additives/100.html

We are talking about minute amounts of E150 in any batch of malt or blend.

"A minute quantity of E150-a is enough to give a one litre bottle of water the looks of a 'Dark Sherry' maturation, so our 200ml could be used to colour a small loch!"

From http://www.maltmadness.com/mm17.html

I do not like it myself but I am sure in a normally coloured whisky you can not taste it.

Greetings
kallaskander


You can taste it in Coke, it's one of the things that gives Coke its flavour.
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:59 am

Marvin wrote:
Wave wrote:
Marvin wrote:
:P


Why though? I care about good whiskies, carameled or not, but the colour is just not relevant.


Colour is not important? The clues as to the type of cask are not important? How curious, I would have to guess that you're in the minority. Colour may be less relevant in a super market blend but in a single cask whisky is certainly has bearing. I would also have to add that colour is important otherwise caramel wouldn't be added to make some whiskies look like another type and if it's not important, why are we talking about it?
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:19 am

Hi there,

yes Marvin, E150a is used as as flavouring as well and if you use enough, you will be able to taste it.
The infamous Loch Dhu darker than even Cola or the current Cu Dhub are the examples of overcoloured whiskies where the caramel makes itself noticable not only in the black colour but on the palate as well.
But my crtical friend I was talking about normal coloured whiskies not of quantities used in drinks like Cola 8) Stirring things up again?

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Postby Marvin » Tue Oct 24, 2006 5:34 pm

I was speaking to a guy today who makes up samples where I work and he said they all get caramel added. He also said the older ones get a bit more to make them look darker. Quite a lot of caramel is used apparently.
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Postby hpulley » Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:03 pm

In dark ones like many blends, HP and Bowmore I can definitely taste the caramel. They use a lot, enough to make it as dark as whisky that's spent 30 years in a first fill ex-sherry cask! That amount of colouring is NOT done for consistency; there's no way Bowmore Darkest would be that colour naturally at 12 years in ex-bourbon and a few years in ex-sherry finishing. There it is done for marketing reasons instead, to make you believe you are purchasing a nice old whisky when in reality you are purchasing some artifically coloured whisky. This is no different than artificially orange coloured oranges, gas ripened fruits, etc. It's about making the consumer want to buy your product and 99% of the time, it works.

Harry
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:18 pm

Marvin wrote:I was speaking to a guy today who makes up samples where I work and he said they all get caramel added. He also said the older ones get a bit more to make them look darker. Quite a lot of caramel is used apparently.


Does this answer your question?

Now, does the addition of caramel affect taste? Many would say yes, and those that add caramel in the industry ALWAYS say that it does not. Intersting, I think.

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Postby Marvin » Tue Oct 24, 2006 10:59 pm

Lawrence wrote:
Marvin wrote:I was speaking to a guy today who makes up samples where I work and he said they all get caramel added. He also said the older ones get a bit more to make them look darker. Quite a lot of caramel is used apparently.


Does this answer your question?

Now, does the addition of caramel affect taste? Many would say yes, and those that add caramel in the industry ALWAYS say that it does not. Intersting, I think.

Lawrence


Things are changing. Some are starting to reduce the caramel or not use it at all. I have said in another thread I think that Highland Park are stopping the use of caramel.
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Postby Drammer » Mon Oct 30, 2006 11:51 am

I've heard that the caramle colourings are supposed to be neutral because they are sugar alcohols, they dissolve into the ethanol and are not supposed to give any flavour. My nose and mouth tell me otherwise. :lol:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Oct 30, 2006 2:04 pm

hpulley wrote:In dark ones like many blends, HP and Bowmore I can definitely taste the caramel. They use a lot, enough to make it as dark as whisky that's spent 30 years in a first fill ex-sherry cask!

Interestingly, the darkest whisky I have is a Bottlers' Teaninich 16yo sherry (almost certainly first fill) and it is almost black. I'm pretty sure there's no caramel at play in that.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Mon Oct 30, 2006 5:18 pm

Remember we also get colouring from the toasting/charing level of the cask. A heavily toasted cask will generate a really good deep colour.
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Postby Marvin » Mon Oct 30, 2006 6:37 pm

irishwhiskeychaser wrote:Remember we also get colouring from the toasting/charing level of the cask. A heavily toasted cask will generate a really good deep colour.


I know someone who makes up samples at a bottling plant and he's only seen one whisky that was really dark before the caramel stage. And even that got a little bit of caramel added...
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Postby Wave » Mon Oct 30, 2006 7:07 pm

Nick Brown wrote:
hpulley wrote:In dark ones like many blends, HP and Bowmore I can definitely taste the caramel. They use a lot, enough to make it as dark as whisky that's spent 30 years in a first fill ex-sherry cask!

Interestingly, the darkest whisky I have is a Bottlers' Teaninich 16yo sherry (almost certainly first fill) and it is almost black. I'm pretty sure there's no caramel at play in that.


I have a Highland Park 24yo Signatory Cask Strength that has almost no color, the color of a very weak beer.
Hmmm, clear carmel? :lol:


Cheers!
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