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Does The Macallan Colour its Malts w/ Caramel?

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Does The Macallan Colour its Malts w/ Caramel?

Postby Oliver » Sun Sep 01, 2002 2:14 am

To all you German or Danish Single Malt Connoisseurs out there: Does the label on The Macallan indicate that folks at The Macallan uses colouring of some sort? (i.e., caramel or other) If so, which variants? (i.e., the "12" but not the "18" or all of them...)
--Thanks a lot!
I'm sure everyone knows by now that in Germany (and elswhere, Denmark I think) the law obliges distilleries to disclose the use of colouring. So our friends in those countries are able to cut through the advertising verbiage and just check the label (Good government at work). Thanks to the internet, I'm hoping we can set the record straight on what is by far my favorite malt; an opinion recently reinforced, by the way, with the US release of cask strength no age statement Macallan: a beauty! (It has a pretty bold -- if cheap -- RED label: way, way better than any hue of Johnnie!)
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Postby AJPM77 » Sun Sep 01, 2002 10:25 am

Im sure someone was trying to compile a list and show us all before. Either they gave up or...For those of us who like a wide variety of malts it would be nice to get a complete list...it is fair. I havent noticed any detailed labelling here in Australia which indicates caramel in any of the malts I've had in the past but maybe I just didn't pay enough attention.

Come on you guys in Germany give us a hand! A complete list!!!

James (living in hope).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sun Sep 01, 2002 10:41 am

Hi Oliver,

As far as I know, Macallan doesn't use any coloring(caramel) at all, they believe in choosing the right casks to get the right color, so you get full natural benefit of the casks they use.

If a distillery use any caramel for colloring, it should not have any effect at all on the whisky, it's a shame actually if distilleries does use some colloring, it's just an uniform matter. But I think that it would be very nice if the consumer see with their own eyes that it's a natural product, and that the color might change from time to time, and what is wrong with that?

Macallan however doesn't use any coloring at all, Highland Park for example does use some caramel, but when companies find out that consumers wants the real "McCoy", I hope that they will change their methods of coloring the whisky. Some independend bottlers don't use any caramel, it's probably they, who understand us better then ever....

Slainte,

Erik
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Postby blackkeno » Sun Sep 01, 2002 11:37 pm

I'm not sure our German friends will be infallable in assuring us that malts do NOT use carmel. I have seen OB bottlings vary by country with regard to abv. The same expression may not be colored all the time. It would not surprise me if companies that did not want us to know their malt was colored might NOT color it in markets that require disclosure. But, when it IS colored in Germany I think we can assume it is always colored.
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Postby Argyll » Mon Sep 02, 2002 8:44 am

There is another problem with relying on the Danish and German bottlings for identification of who colours and who doesn't. You only have to include 'mit farbstoff' (added colouring) if the bottler uses over a certain amount. And some bottlers also tell us on the labels regardless of whether they do or they don't simply to make the bottling process easier (for example Glengoyne and Jura).

Most large bottlers will adjust the colour with spirit caramel (a very high proportion in fact), the real question is though, do you, or do you not like the whisky?

Can we move away from this 'traditional' nonsense and admit the fact that additives, colourings and flavourings have been used in the production of whisky since the creation of the still.

The only question you should be concerned with is 'do you like the whisky?????'
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 02, 2002 8:59 am

Argyll has a point there, but in fact it depends on the company if they use any colouring for export, as far as I know Macallan doesn't. In Germany I've seen some OB's who used a lot of caramel(mit farbstoff), it's very sad to see that things like that happen. You ask your self the question: Do the German people love the caramel(farbstoff)?? It's hard to believe that for some countries the export whisky needs to be coloured(perhaps by government regulations??), you ask your self why?
Then you come to the situation within your self: Do I like the whisky or not??(Like Argyll stated earlyer).......
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Postby Oliver » Mon Sep 02, 2002 12:47 pm

To all you would-be philosophers out there:
Yes, I've tasted the Macallan and decided I like it --caramel colouring notwithstanding. Not the issue here guys, but thanks for asking.
I STILL WANT TO KNOW IF THE MACALLAN USES COLOURING; CAN ANY OF OUR GERMAN FRIENDS OUT THERE TELL US IF THE MACALLAN USES ARTIFICIAL COLOURING OR NOT? --IF YOU KNOW. THANKS. (That's all I want to know).
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 02, 2002 1:37 pm

Hi Oliver,

I'm not German, but I can tell you this(for the third or fourth time) that The Macallan, does NOT USE ANY COLOURING. Does this answer your question???

Erik
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Postby Oliver » Mon Sep 02, 2002 7:56 pm

Huurman:

What makes you so sure? If your sources are anything else than viewing a lable required by the German government, I'll take it with a grain of salt. I've heard people "swear" Highland Park wasn't colored before.
Telling me 2 or 3 times (even 300) doesn't necesarilly make it so Huuurman man.
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Postby GordonH » Mon Sep 02, 2002 10:03 pm

Hi Oliver,
Eriks right ,they don't use colouring , it comes from the casks selected to make the bottling.On my first tour of Macallan many moons ago they took us into the old on-site labs (unfortunately they didn't do it on the last tour we did there last September),the tables were covered with small sample bottles from different casks , the colour spectrum of the whiskies was unbelievable (and very tempting ).When doing a years bottling they have to match it up to the previous 4 or 5 years with the 1000's of casks at hand.
If possible you should do The Macallan tour as it is one of the best i've been on ,you might learn something !
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Postby Oliver » Mon Sep 02, 2002 11:47 pm

Guys:

The Macallan may indeed not use caramel colouring. But having gone to a Macallan distillery tour is no proof of that. I mean how naive can you all get?
Do you really think that the Macallan would admit to caramel colouring during A DISTILLERY TOUR. Are you insane?! Come on!
They will answer the question if required to do so by law; hence my question to German drinkers...So please don't quote me the soft sell of some front office guy at the distillery. I would say the same thing as them if I were in their shoes. Wisen up a tad. And yes I like the taste of the Macallan, and no, I don't know if they color their malt...
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Postby Argyll » Tue Sep 03, 2002 9:08 am

Come on fella's - you are kidding yourselves. Macallan is as coloured as the rest of them. Perhaps not in their 'labs' - which I have seen and very easy to the consumers eye, but in their vast bottling hall where the thousands of cases are bottled each year.

The most reliable source is anyone who has worked in the bottling halls - and I have it from the very same source that a very large majority of large bottlers will tamper with their colour to find consistency.
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Postby AJPM77 » Tue Sep 03, 2002 1:07 pm

After all these posts we are still no closer to actually getting a German to answer the question with reference to a bottle at their local. Lets stop chewing the fat and just wait for the answer and hope that the moderators aren't "removing" unwanted answers (not that they would mind but time is dragging from the first request until now for a definitive answer on many whiskys).

James
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Sep 03, 2002 4:18 pm

Hi guys,

I have some very very good sources in the Highland Distillers compnay, and I have to believe them, otherwise who can we believe, and no Oliver I'm not naive.

I just know and belive The Macallan Distillery(and only from a tour) that they do not use any colour, how ever I do not know if the German market demands any colouring for the spirits who will be imported, ie if it's done by the German law that each whisky that's get imported must be colored, then so be it, although it might be worth while to investigate if the export batch from Macallan gets coloured befor it goes to Germany, but I seriously doubt that, that The Macallan gives their aproval to colour their malt before it goes to Germany? What do you think?

Slainte,

Erik
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Postby Ian_Hamilton » Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:24 am

Hi People,
I live in Denmark and as I said before I would call in to the shop and have a look at a couple of Macallan bottles.
I looked at the 12 year old and a 1983 bottling. Both had no reference to caramel. If they had added caramel it would have to be stated on the bootle by law
"Farven Justeret med Karamel/E150"
(this means means the clour adjusted with caramel)

So its a NO!
Hope this clears this topic up.
Thanks
Ian
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Postby Nodin » Wed Sep 04, 2002 10:38 am

Oliver, Why wouldn't the Macallan admit to using coloring on a tour? Talisker, Oban (UDV) and Glengoyne all freely admitted to using caramel on thier tours. While we may feel that caramel means inferior product, distilleries that use it all point out that it is only there to ensure consistancy, something which i am sure not-so-hardcore entusiasts are concerned about. As an example, and this is only an aside so please don't crucify me, if you were to buy a bottle of, say, Coca-cola and it were three shades off from the color you recognized, would you not wonder about the quality of that batch? Those who occasionally drink malts probably don't know or care about caramel coloring but they outnumber us by a longshot! Based on other distilleries admitting to coloring then, i don't see why we should question it if the Macallan says they don't color. If they didn't even address the issue, however, then who knows???

[This message has been edited by Nodin (edited 04 September 2002).]
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Postby Argyll » Wed Sep 04, 2002 1:13 pm

It seems like everyone has missed my earlier point. Although Germany and Denmark have laws stating that additives muct be mentioned on the packaging - the bottlers only have to mention the fact if they use over a certain amount of additive. It does not take much spirit caramel to change the colour of a whisky - especially if the whisky is solely aged in sherry butts.

So Highland Distillers claim to not use caramel? Well they also claim that ALL Macallan is aged in ex-sherry butts - why then do so many independent bottlers (and private buyers) have Macallan aged in ex-bourbon casks?

It is the art of telling the truth whilst hiding the lie.

The other possibility is of course that Macallan has recently stopped adding caramel. Again though, the only reliable source is not a bottle from Denmark or Germany, but an employee in the vatting and bottling hall of Highland Distillers.

And at the end of the day, why do you care? Just drink the stuff.
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Postby Oliver » Wed Sep 04, 2002 4:08 pm

Thanks v. much Ian!
If you ever come by New Orleans e-mail me, and we will drink some of my caramel-free Macallan!
Regards,
Oliver
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 05, 2002 2:31 pm

Like we all say to you before Oliver, Macallan doesn't use any Caramel(E150) to their malts, I love a caramel free dram...

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Postby SpeedyJohn » Thu Sep 05, 2002 2:49 pm

What lie, Argyll? When Highland Distillers say all Macallan is aged in ex-sherry casks, they are referring only to the whisky which they themselves bottle and sell under the Macallan label. No lie, no deception. There is no bourbon-cask whisky in any OB Macallan. Any whisky Macallan ages in bourbon casks is strictly for sale to blenders. I don't think they ever denied this practice or tried to cover it up.

As for the discussion about the use of caramel, all I can say is: SO WHAT?! For the love of humanity, stop being so picky. The whole debate over the use of caramel coloring is pointless and stupid. CARAMEL COLORING IS ODORLESS AND TASTELESS! Even if it did have any discernible odor or taste, the amount used to color a whisky would be so small that it would be undetectable in the finished product. "Oh, but I most certainly can taste it," say the snobs. Bulls***, I say! In a blind tasting using dark tasting glasses, you would have no idea which whisky contains coloring and which doesn't.

That said, I would prefer there be no added coloring, because I like the idea of "all-natural" products. But, I judge a whisky based on its aromas, taste and finish, not by how it looks. If it contains coloring, so be it.

SJ
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 05, 2002 5:49 pm

Bullseye, SpeedyJohn. But what some us like is whisky, wich nothing has being done with it, just the pure stuff, can you understand that? Ofcourse there's nothing wrong with colouring(I do love Highland Park and any other stuff from Highland Distillers). But sometimes you just want the pure stuff, wich means no chill filtration, and no colouring, and what's wrong with that?

I agree that you don't even taste the colouring in the malts, but to much of that stuff can do no good to your malt(after some time). In a blind tasting you would love the Royal Lochnagar(wich is stiff of the E150), compared with some other malts wich probably are even un-chill filtred, and uncoloured.

But man may have his own opinion here on this site, wheater you like it or not, or better, if you agree with it or not.

It's a good thing to judge a whisky on its "nose" "palate" and "finish" and perhaps even the clour, because after all it is personal...

Slainte,

Erik
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Postby Ize » Fri Sep 06, 2002 6:58 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial, Verdana">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by SpeedyJohn:
As for the discussion about the use of caramel, all I can say is: SO WHAT?! For the love of humanity, stop being so picky. The whole debate over the use of caramel coloring is pointless and stupid. CARAMEL COLORING IS ODORLESS AND TASTELESS!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE> http://www.ddwilliamson.com/solution/downloads/caramel.doc

I extract one comment from that document:"Lightly colored, pleasant tasting caramel flavors are produced in the initial stages but as the reaction continues more high-molecular-weight color bodies are produced and the flavor characteristics become more bitter."

This becomes very obvious thing when tasting Loch Dhu ...

Anyway, E150 is not tasteless for instance it is widely used in breweries to make beer dark and bitter.
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Postby SpeedyJohn » Fri Sep 06, 2002 12:40 pm

Huurman: I, too, prefer the "pure stuff", as you called it, and said so in my previous post. So I do understand--and, basically, agree with you. (BTW, I have tried Royal Lochnagar and would not rank it among my favorites.)

Ize: I was always led to believe that such coloring agents were odorless and tasteless. But, if what you say about E150 is true, then I stand corrected.

If added coloring does indeed affect the taste of the whisky, then the question becomes: Does it affect it for better or worse? That, I suppose, would depend on the malt in question and the different expressions of that malt being compared. But, I assume there would be instances in which a version with added coloring may taste better to some folks than an "uncolored" version of the same malt, just as some people prefer dark and bitter beers (perhaps infused with E150) over other beers.

So, again, the whole debate over coloring seems pointless to me, since it boils down to arguing over matters of personal taste.

SJ
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Postby Ize » Fri Sep 06, 2002 1:04 pm

Heh, SJ, you probably noticed that I did not make any remarks with adjectives like good or bad. Image


Colour is not even a secondary thing in the whisky for me, but my only personal opinion to this matter is that it should be marked on the label or somewhere else if whisky is coloured by E150. Since I buy my whiskies from Germany I don't have difficulties to know what has been added to whisky or what might taste in it. Image

Kippis,
Ize
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Sep 06, 2002 5:14 pm

Any way guys, Oliver has his answer, Macallan doesn't use any E150, and that's all what it matters, you are right SJ, this discussion gets a little further now, like: you know, one leads to another....

Slainte folks,

Erik
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Postby blackkeno » Sat Sep 07, 2002 2:59 am

Here is the reply I received on this topic:
From:magnus@GOL.COM .DE

When I checked it in Sweden this winter it was not marked as containing E150.
But these were: Auchtentoshan 10Y; Bowmore 12Y; Cragganmore 12Y; Dalwhinnie 15Y; Drumguish; The Famous Grouse; Glenandrew 10Y; Isle of Jura 10Y; Lagavulin 16Y; Oban

Magnus

On Wednesday 04 September 2002 13:16, John Dube wrote:
Someone on the Whisky Magazine forum was hoping that someone from Germany (or other country that requires disclosure on the label) could verify for certain if Macallans are colored. Please let us know either way which expressions are or are not labeled as containing spirit caramel.

Thanks,
John
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Postby Ize » Mon Sep 09, 2002 5:19 am

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Arial, Verdana">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by blackkeno:
<B>When I checked it in Sweden this winter it was not marked as containing E150.
But these were: Auchtentoshan 10Y; Bowmore 12Y; Cragganmore 12Y; Dalwhinnie 15Y; Drumguish; The Famous Grouse; Glenandrew 10Y; Isle of Jura 10Y; Lagavulin 16Y; Oban
</B><HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Weird, two Lagavulin bottles I ever have bought (bottled 2000 & 2001 I assume) both had marking E150. I'm not sure whether in Sweden it is necessary to inform about it, at least in Finland it isn't but I buy my bottles from Germany where are quite strick legislation about this.

Kippis,
Ize
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Postby Iain » Mon Sep 09, 2002 1:11 pm

Everyone who's fed up with discussion re caramel colouring please look away now :-)

Erik et al - is it true that Gordon & MacPhail use caramel to ensure colour consistency across their whole range of sms? If so, then if someone (let's say Macallan for argument's sake) was to rebottle some G&M Macallan under a label of their own, and if those bottles of G&M Macallan had already been coloured by G&M, would the rebottler be required to say on labels in Germany etc that the whisky they had rebottled contains caramel colouring?

I suppose in that case that if the rebottler were Macallan they would be entitled to continue to say they don't add caramel colouring to their whiskies - even though there might be caramel colour in the bottle!

BTW I agree - I haven't been dissuaded from trying a whisky because it contains caramel, and I judge it by its taste. Although I would like accurate info on the label (whether it's whisky or beer, wine or ketchup etc) to let me know if there's anything else I don't fancy in the bottle. How come in the UK the label on a can of beans must list all the additives, but the label on a bottle of booze does not?
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:47 pm

Hi Iain,

Your question is quite clear. It is known that G&M use caramel for colour consistency, no doubt about that, if you look at the bottles you may notice that the colour is practicly the same, that nice famous brown colour.
But if Macallan should buy back any whisky from G&M, they probably would buy the casks back again, why? Well it's quite simple, if they would buy back the cask, then they have the full insurance that nothing has being done with whisky, but however if they buy the unlabled bottles back, well that's another matter, they don't know what's happend with it, they didn't have any eye on the production at that time, so there's no control or what so ever, so if you put your own label on it, then you take some risks here. I don't think that would buy any unlabled bottles at aal, occasionally what happens is, if they want some their own rare vintage bottles back, with their own label, they would try to buy them back again, but only if it has their own label on it....
I hope Iain that this answer your question.

Slainte,

Erik
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Postby Rudolph Hucker » Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:50 pm

Anyone else find it strange that no-one from the Macallan has posted an answer to this simple question - Do you add colour

Ceers

Rudolph
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Postby Iain » Mon Sep 09, 2002 3:33 pm

I would have thought the same as you Erik. Until I looked at
http://www.mctears.com/wh6sep02.htm

Check out lots 541 and 542. Bottled 1974 and 1975 and THEN bottled by Macallan at Craigellachie in 2002.

What's going on here, I wonder? Who bottled these Macallans in the 1970s? Why go to all the trouble of tipping out the contents and bottling them again? Are these the bottlings we hear are to be released after the auction, for sale in the stores? Is there any caramel in them? I hope there is a guarantee they contain whisky distilled at Macallan, caramelised or not!

Send for Sherlock Holmes!
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Postby St.Peat » Mon Sep 09, 2002 5:58 pm

Hi, gang

Just opened a new bottle of E150, and I detected a disclaimer on the label:

"Consumer: this bottle may contain trace amounts of whisky."

_____________

On a different slant -- if Mannochmore colored their make with LochDont it would be nicely ambered (or more) and still a single, right? And, they would bypass E150 declaration laws, no?

Keep it coming, folks!
Always better to read a busy forum, I say Image

Cheers! -- St.Peat
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Sep 09, 2002 7:44 pm

Yes Iain,
it's time for Sherlock Holmes. To investigate this matter, very interseting, I have looked earlyer on the site of Mc Tears, but didn't noticed it until now....
What's going on here? Shall we call Scotland Yard or Sherlock Holmes and his faithful assistent Dr Watson??
Interesting case here Iain...

Erik
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Postby Iain » Tue Sep 10, 2002 8:39 am

It is said that a whisky doesn't change in character once it has been bottled. But what happens if you tip it out and leave it lying around for a while before rebottling it? Is exposure to air (oxidisation?) likely to change of the character of the whisky on its way from one bottle to the next? And would that change be beneficial or deleterious to a whisky that it is predicted will sell for a pretty high price?

All theories to Sherlock, please.
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Postby Rudolph Hucker » Tue Sep 10, 2002 9:17 am

Huurman says he has some very very good sources in Highland Distillers. Good, he can settle this discussion easily, no need to ask people all round the world to go and read labels on bottles ( although there are worse ways to spend time!)especially as Argyll reports that only colouring above a certain level needs to be disclosed on the label.

Come on, Huurman, put us of of our misery - just call one of your very very good sources in Highland Distillers and have them post a clear, simple statement on this forum.

WE DO NOT ADD ANY COLOURING TO THE MACALLAN

..unless, of course, they do!


Cheers

Rudolph
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