The Campaign for Real Whisky
I mentioned in a recent interview that I liked to call whisky that hadn’t been coloured or chill-filtered or generally mucked about with ‘real whisky’. I’m sure others do too. I’m going to start using that around here so that’s what I mean when I use that particular term from now on. I will mention in a review whether it is a real whisky or not, if it is known to be so.
As many of you know, most scotch whisky has caramel colouring added (similar to the stuff that makes cola dark) and is put through a chill-filtration unit to remove the fatty esters that would make the whisky go cloudy at low temperatures or when water is added. Historically these processes were introduced presumably due to demand from consumers who thought darker meant better and cloudy was a bad thing (I recently tried a whisky that went as cloudy as a weissbier with water added. Did it stop me drinking it? Did it f…). But consumers these days are much more enlightened, due to the information superhighway or internets to you and me. More and more we see the growing demand for natural, organic, local, seasonal, no artificial colourings and preservatives etc. We demand better. The debate rages on as to whether either process is detrimental to the taste and feel of the whisky – the distillers claim not, but look how quickly they add it to the label of a bottling which isn’t – but what is important is our consumer choice. We have a right to know if either has taken place. Word is spreading online.
Not only that but there is now a campaign, which is just beginning to grow on my forum calling for whisky to be labelled if anything has been added or taken away, that has been dubbed The Campaign for Real Whisky, following the lead of the ale guys. A website is being planned and the campaign has already attracted many voices which will hopefully continue to build in the coming months. I see the ultimate aim for this gathering of whisky fans as being the removal of colouring and chill-filtration from the production process and steering whisky back to that natural product with which it so often associates itself. For now, though, moves are underway to target clear labelling.
Right, let’s start this off with a real whisky. My next review will be the revamped Ledaig 10yo that I’ve mentioned before.