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Chill filtering?

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Chill filtering?

Postby Saul » Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:53 am

I've been thinking about this chill filtering stuff.
As I understand you get the whisky in its purest form when it is not chill filtered, and it will get a bit cloudy when you add water to it. I can clearly see the selling point of this from the independent bottlers and other distilleries such as Ardbeg and Bruichladdich, but has anyone really compared one chill filtered whisky with the exact same whisky that hasn't been chill filtered? Are there really a difference?

An other thing is that it is cheaper to not chill filter, as you skip
the whole process, and this also have to be one of the reasons bottlers and distillers do this.


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Postby bamber » Tue Jul 19, 2005 12:01 pm

Now this sounds like an ideal opportunity for some home experimentation - freeze and filter ?
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Jul 19, 2005 1:05 pm

Hi there,

there is, in theory, a difference. The stuff you take care of with chill-filtering are higher alcohols, molecular chains that are far longer than the drinkable C2O5OH, ethanol. They come into the whisky during the distillation process because the heat is enough to vaporize them along with the desired ethanol. During the distillation the still man cuts of the foreshots, collects the wanted middle cut, the heart of the run and cuts of the feints, the unsavoury bitter alcohols, too. But distilling is an art, not a science therefore you have an amount of higher alcohols in your middle cut as well. That can not be helped and should not because with these longer molecules along go flavours and aromas. In fact these chains of molecules carry taste, aroma and flavour in themselves.
But: If your whisky gets cold and has a abv beneath 46% abv, these longer molecules fall out of the fluid because below 46% abv they can not be held in solution within the whisky with this relatively low alcohol content. And the clouds are here to stay. At 46% abv and above the whisky when getting cold clouds over nicely but when temperatures go up it goes back to normal because with the help of the warmth the higher alcohol content dissolves the waxy alcohols again.
The industry does not believe that customers want to drink a cloudy whisky and to be honest, it does not look too well even when you know why it turned cloudy. Therefore the bottlers chill the whisky before bottling, the higher alcohols turn waxy and can easily be removed with mechanical filtres.
Along go elements of taste, flavour and aroma, though. And that ist the difference in practice. To my knowledge no distillery or bottler has tried to sell a batch of whisky half and half, e.g. one bottle filtered the other non-chillfiltered. Hey, there is a marketing idea probably should take a patent on that and shut up.

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Postby JimHall » Tue Jul 19, 2005 1:27 pm

Saul
Given that congeners contain both flavour and odour components why would we (the enthusiasts) want it taken out???
The general market is another thing all together as kallaskander
has explained. Much the same story with caramelisation.


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JIM
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:24 pm

Mr Picky here: Jim, I would prefer to see a term such as "artificial coloring" (or "colouring", if you prefer) used rather than "caramelisation" (or "caramelization"), as the latter specifically describes the reaction of sugars to heat, rather than what you intend. Forgive my pickiness; all for the sake of (oh irony) clarity, you understand.

Carry on.
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Postby Saul » Tue Jul 19, 2005 3:57 pm

Thank you kallaskander for your reply, that was very educational for me. I didn't know about thoses molecules. :-)

I have a followup question though. You say that there are some aromas and flavours in those longer molecules, but are there flavours that is not found elsewhere, in the cut/shorter molecules. Do the molecules that will be filtered out during chillfiltering contain unique flavours for that whisky?

I also understand that there are many ways to chillfilter. Some use 0 degrees celcius, other down to -4. So if I have understood this correctly, the whiskies that have been chilled down to -4 will have shorter molecules extracted than the ones who have been chilled to 0? If that's the case, then chillfiltering is just not chillfiltering, it's a factor in itself? :-)


JimHall: What I question is that it is "given" that congeners contain flavours that isn't found in the rest of the whisky. I really want to know how much this process matters. :-) My favourite whiskies are official bottlings that have been chillfiltered.


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Postby Lawrence » Tue Jul 19, 2005 4:16 pm

The difference is not theory, it's fact. The Scotch Malt Whisky Society was formed just to be able to purchase and bottle non chill filtered whisky because it tastes so much better.

The difference between not chill filltered and chill filtered whisky can be staggering.
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Jul 19, 2005 4:35 pm

Hi there,

chill-filtration does take out unique aromas when the higher alcohols go missing. I´m sorry that I am not able to tell you exactly which higher alcohols, esters and other flavour-carrying agents chill-filtering does remove nor at what temperature exactly.
But I can give you a first hand example about a mechanical filtering that changed a malt completely. My favourite whisky shop bought a rare barrel of a 10 year old Inchmoan from Loch Lomond Distillery. If you are versed with Inchmurrin, Loch Lomond NAS or Loch Lomond 21 years or the five year old Old Rhosdhu from that distillery you will find very fruity, estery notes in the nose. After the barrel had settled they started bottling using a paper filtre to hold back wood chips and other stuff floating in the malt. I was there when they took the first sample of the newly delivered barrel. I found the malt very fruity, the massive peat very restrained in the nose, only little alcoholic or tangy despite 63,5% abv. Next time I was there they offered me two glases and asked me what I thought. One contained the malt with no filtration the other the same malt after the use of a mere paper filtre. What can I say? After filtering through the paper all fruitiness in the nose was gone! It was a completely different smell compared to the sample without filtering. I was told that the whisky was so oily, so viscous that it took hours to fill the first 10 bottles. They bottled it "straight from the cask" after that.
So, if mechanical filtering can do that, we can extrapolate that chill-filtering can do worse - or better!
I can well imagine that there are barrels which actually improve with chill-filtering. Now there is a thought!

Greetings
kallaskander

PS Please stop kidding me Saul. Next thing you reveal about yourself is that you are a chemist or the like.
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Postby Pipe and dram » Tue Jul 19, 2005 8:22 pm

Whether it is better or not to chillfilter, I guess, is a matter of personal taste. There is no question that since chilfiltering removes all kinds of things (see I am not too technical) both microscopic and macroscopic, that it does affect the overall character of the whisky. I like both, but have to agree with Bruichladdich and the SMWS and others, that whisky is better, in my opinion, not being chilfiltered.
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Postby Saul » Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:35 am

kallaskander: That was exactly what I was looking for. Someone who had first-hand information on the difference, and that have actually experienced the same whisky chill filtered and not chill filtered. Thanks for clearing this up. :-)
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Postby The Fachan » Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:27 pm

Kallaskander,

Please enlighten me on the difference between chill filtering and mechanical filtering.


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Postby Lawrence » Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:34 pm

Yes, that's a good question, I'd like to know your answer also. I understand chill filtering but and curious about mechanical filtering. Is it the difference between actual chill filtering and using a simple screen for gross filtering?
Last edited by Lawrence on Wed Jul 20, 2005 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Aidan » Wed Jul 20, 2005 2:58 pm

From the Brucladdich website

Chill-Filtering
Chill filtration is an industrial process designed to remove esters in whisky which could form hazes and deposits when stored at low temperature. The principal components responsible for this occurrence are the ethyl esters of lauric, palmitic and palmitoleic acids. These three esters are formed by reacting ethanol with the relevant fatty acid, and are soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in water. This is why we bottle at the higher strength of 46%. Increasing water content in whisky, for example by adding water prior to bottling at a lower % or in the glass, can result in cloudiness as a result of this insolubility. The insolubility of ethyl esters in water tends to increase with molecular chain 1ength. Thus the ethyl esters of acids of shorter chain length (e.g. ethyl acetate, hexanoate, octanoate) do not cause haze problems in whisky. Solubility is also dependent on temperature. When spirits with relatively high concentrations of the highlighted esters are subjected to low or fluctuating temperatures, hazes can appear in the spirit.

Ethyl esters can be reduced by refrigeration followed by filtration known as "chill filtration". Whilst the esters above are minor influences on whisky flavour, chill filtration also removes more flavour critical components, as well as fatty acids that count for the richer ‘mouth feel’ and ‘persistence’ of flavour.
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Postby kallaskander » Wed Jul 20, 2005 3:03 pm

Hi there,

mechanical filtering is just the use of a paper filter or a very fine sieve to filter out dust, wood chips or charcoal particles in case of a charred out bourbon case. Straight from the cask bottling works only if the barrel has weeks to settle. There is no cooling involved in pure mechanical filtering. Paper filters are of the density of a filter used in percolators. I´ve seen used paper filters and was very happy that they were used. The "Lincoln County Process" the charcoal mellowing obligatory for Tennessee whiskey is just another, even more thorough way of doing it and I would venture to state that the charcoal usage comes close to chillfiltering.
Another interesting comparative experiment not yet undertaken.

Greetings
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Jul 20, 2005 3:11 pm

Thanks, I first read about using a screen in a SMWS brochure when they referrred to it as 'gross filtering' used simply to remove bits of wood etc.
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Postby Crispy Critter » Thu Jul 21, 2005 5:03 am

Aidan wrote:Chill filtration is an industrial process designed to remove esters in whisky which could form hazes and deposits when stored at low temperature. The principal components responsible for this occurrence are the ethyl esters of lauric, palmitic and palmitoleic acids.


Hmm, maybe we have a possible source of FWP? I've noticed derivatives of these fatty acids in soap and shampoo products (e.g. sodium lauryl sulfate).

Then again, I've never encountered an FWP bottle, even when unchillfiltered. There goes my theory. :)

Probably the most unfiltered whisk(e)y I've encountered is George T. Stagg bourbon; char particles from the barrels can be seen in it, and the last few pours from a bottle are visibly darker than the first. IIRC, only a coarse filter is used to get rid of large chunks of charcoal.

I must say, though, it's magnificent...
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Postby Saul » Fri Jul 22, 2005 5:28 am

Just a little followup question again. So, if I take the unchillfiltered cask strengths of lets say Laphroaig and Glenmorangie and water them down to the strength of the standard bottlings, should I be able to taste or feel the difference? If not, why?
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 22, 2005 5:59 am

If you are comparing non chill filtered cask strength whiskies and 'standard' 40%(for example) chill filtered whiskies then you would certainly notice a difference with or without the addition of water. There is simply more flavour in a non chill filtered whisky.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:37 am

Hi there,

I´d agree with Lawrence. A non chill-filtered whisky has more flavour and aroma to start with. If you water that down to "drinking strength" you take nothing out of the whisky. Watering down just lessens the alcoholic impact and your taste buds and nose can cope better. A chill-filterd whisky has already lost some of its very substance. Again I say, that may even be a good thing in some cases.

Greetings
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Postby Aidan » Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:22 am

There is a difference between a whisky bottled at 40% and watering down your whisky to the same level from a cask strength.

Diluting it creates a small temperature rise and lowers the surface tension. This is why many recommend adding a little water to your whisky, as it reveals more of its flavour.

Dat's what I tink anyway.
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Postby JimHall » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:07 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:Mr Picky here: Jim, I would prefer to see a term such as "artificial coloring" (or "colouring", if you prefer) used rather than "caramelisation" (or "caramelization"), as the latter specifically describes the reaction of sugars to heat, rather than what you intend. Forgive my pickiness; all for the sake of (oh irony) clarity, you understand.

Carry on.


Spud
Get a grip man, is this forum about Whisky? or is it about spelling and pedantry?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:05 pm

All right then, don't forgive my pickiness.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:09 pm

Saul wrote:Just a little followup question again. So, if I take the unchillfiltered cask strengths of lets say Laphroaig and Glenmorangie and water them down to the strength of the standard bottlings, should I be able to taste or feel the difference? If not, why?


1) You won't be using the same water the bottlers do.

2) These are entirely different vattings, anyway. They are very likely not intended to be similar.

Therefore any comparison you make will not be valid. But I concur that the unchillfiltered whiskies I've had have had, on the whole, fuller flavor and mouthfeel than chillfiltered ones.

Edit: Corrected a typo. Okay, I'm really anal.
Last edited by Guest on Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 3:25 pm

And hey, Jim, I don't waste my (and your) time correcting spelling, grammar, and usage errors here. (God knows that would be a full time job.) But the word you used means something entirely different from what you meant. I just thought you would want to know that. 8)
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jul 22, 2005 4:38 pm

Hi there,

Mr T would you please convey my compliments to Mr Picky and tell him that he is welcome to supervise me grammar and spelling anytime. As long as he does not try to supervise the content of my posts I can live with him and his interventions.
Hope it is the same with you. You are so much closer to him.

Greetings
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Jul 22, 2005 4:44 pm

But the word you used means something entirely different from what you meant. I just thought you would want to know that.


There's two uses for the word spelling?
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Postby bernstein » Fri Jul 22, 2005 6:12 pm

Jim wrote:Get a grip man, is this forum about Whisky? or is it about spelling and pedantry?

Did you know there's "a dram fine idea to link words and the finest malts"? :wink:

http://business.scotsman.com/agricultur ... 1654602005
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 7:34 pm

Lawrence wrote:There's two uses for the word spelling?


Well, sure, as in "Youkilis has replaced Mueller at third base and Millar is spelling Mientkiewicz at first." (No mean feat, that.)
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Fri Jul 22, 2005 8:13 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Lawrence wrote:There's two uses for the word spelling?


Well, sure, as in "Youkilis has replaced Mueller at third base and Millar is spelling Mientkiewicz at first." (No mean feat, that.)


Now that sounds like an illegal substitution, but at least we know who's on first. Aren't there two t's in Mientkiewictz, or was that his Ukrainian cousin?
:wink:
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:03 pm

No, that's the proper spelling; I've known a number of Poles with -wicz, including a steady girlfriend. (Actually, she wasn't all that steady, now that I think of it.)

Of course, while he was with the Red Sox, it was much more common (and easy) for the slick-fielding Mientkiewicz to spell Millar in the late innings, rather than vice-versa.

Millar raised a lot of eyebrows when he revealed that several of the Sox had taken a ceremonial hit of Jack Daniel's before each game of last year's playoffs. (Obligatory on-topic comment.)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:11 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,

Mr T would you please convey my compliments to Mr Picky and tell him that he is welcome to supervise me grammar and spelling anytime. As long as he does not try to supervise the content of my posts I can live with him and his interventions.
Hope it is the same with you. You are so much closer to him.

Greetings
kallaskander


You are kind, sir. Your English is far better than my German.

Don't tell him I said so, but there are times I think that Mr Picky is more of a burden than a joy. But I accept him for what he is, and try to keep him well leashed when visitors are in.
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Postby Saul » Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:12 am

Okay, back to topic again.

The distilleries also chillfilter so that the whisky won't turn cloudy when water is added. At cask strength the whisky will turn cloudy when water is added, but what do they do when they offer whiskies at 46% that has not been chillfiltered? Haven't these whiskies been watered down? Why aren't these whiskies cloudy?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:33 am

Saul wrote:..........At cask strength the whisky will turn cloudy when water is added, but what do they do when they offer whiskies at 46% that has not been chillfiltered? Haven't these whiskies been watered down? Why aren't these whiskies cloudy?

A whisky will become cloudy at any strenght as long as it isn't chill filtered (whisky only if 40% or more). Chillfiltering removes the fat particles from the fluid - thus you get a clear and consistent product. It has nothing to do with strength apart from cask strength being the connoiceurs choice and therefore in general not tampered so much with. Colouring does appear though...

Ardbeg Ten is a good example of a 46% whisky that does indeed become cloudy when water is added.

Skål!
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Postby Saul » Tue Jul 26, 2005 8:50 am

But how does the distilleries water down their whiskies from cask strength if they don't chillfilter it?

An Ardbeg cask strength will turn cloudy if you add water to it, right? So how does the destillery get the whisky to 46% without making it cloudy?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Jul 26, 2005 9:17 am

Saul wrote:But how does the distilleries water down their whiskies from cask strength if they don't chillfilter it?

All non-chillfiltered whisky watered out will loose the cloudiness after a while. When you add water to your whisky it's the same. It only stays cloudy for a short period and then it becomes "clear" again. Have a go and see for yourself!
An Ardbeg cask strength will turn cloudy if you add water to it, right? So how does the destillery get the whisky to 46% without making it cloudy?

The same as above - the whisky only stays cloudy for a short period.

Skål!
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