I was earlier pondering about the origins of the practice of chill-filtration. well, I did find some interesting facts, and the source closer than I thought - Whisky Magazine, issue 17, July 2001 (knew I had seen some facts referred to somewhere!).
There's a fascinating article by Anthony Troon, starting from page 48, which gives much insight to this practice, also from a historical point of view. The author states that "one explanation given to me was that until the 1930's a great deal of scotch was sold in opaque bottles of green-coloured glass..(masking the impurities). Then in line with standard international marketing practice for spirits, Scotch swtiched over to clear glass bottles."
He also states that "as early as 1917 the chill filtering tendency had been noted and deplored by the distinguished medical journal The Lancet."
The article explains that the 40 per cent by volume strength for alcohol products was set in the Defense of the Realm Act of 1914, in the early years of the WWI.
The Lancet's article pointed out apparently that "whisky was not an ordinary spirit but a complex containing certain by-products of fermentation and distillation, held in the solution in the alcohol". It goes on to state, quite accurately I might add, that " the subsequent elimination of these substances by filtration carries out a material proportion of the flavouring substances derived from the malt and the ethers are to some extent destroyed by this process."
I for one found this article excellent, and it is absolutely fascinating to see that much as I suspected/recalled, the roots of the chill filtration run far deeper in the history of whisky than what has been recently often suggested (that this practice started in earnest quite in the 1960's).
All I can say is that Whisky Magazine has published some remarkably good and informative articles over the years!
Wikipedia has a good explanation of the Defense of the Realm Act of 1914 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defence_of_the_Realm_Act
The article from The Lancet from 1917 might make rather interesting reading - The magazine still exists and is published, so I thought I might make an enquiry regarding the chances of getting a copy of this article.
Should any of you have the opportunity to contribute further facts about this interesting aspect of whisky history, I would like to invite you to do so.