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Issue 95 - Chilled out Colour

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011


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Chilled out Colour

Tim Forbes and Ed Bates go head to head over the issue of chill-filtration and colouring

?Tim: A new grassroots movement of whisky fans is championing a ‘less-is-more' philosophy towards single malt whisky. The Campaign for Real Whisky began last year on the WhiskyWhiskyWhisky online forum and became a wide-ranging debate, garnering hundreds of responses and attracting thousands of readers.

So, what's it all about? Forum founder Mark Connolly: “I see this as a way of consumers having a voice rather than the Scotch Whisky Association, who are a voice for the industry. More people are becoming aware most whisky has been artificially coloured and treated to remove certain compounds that turns cloudy in low temperatures.” Indeed, the use of spirit caramel (E150a) and chill-filtration are deeply embedded throughout the industry. But the Campaign for Real Whisky is challenging these practices.

But why should we care? Well, a lot of malt fans want their whisky to be its natural colour and prefer the use of standard ‘barrier filtration' which doesn't affect texture. The fundamental objections to colour and chill-filtration are simple: E150 is an artificial additive; it's not a part of distillation or maturation. Caramel colouring is therefore an unnatural (and arguably deceitful) vanity process that makes a whisky look older and more interesting than it actually is. A lot of people also believe that it dulls the whisky's flavours and leaves a bitter note in the finish. Chill-filtration is a reductive vanity process necessary to prevent cloudiness in blends; ...

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