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When distilleries talk about water from that and that spring, they mean water used in creating the wash, etc, before distillation. The water used for dilution before bottling will often come from a completely different source, depending on where the bottling hall is situated. Only very few distilleries bottle at the distillery site.
FAIK, Glenfiddich and Springbank are the only ones bottling on-site. Would you feel that those two are much more authentic, higher-quality than all the rest? Guess not, and neither would I.
I very much doubt that the influence of the water source on the final taste is significant, or even detectable (given of course, that pure water is used). I played around a bit with this in an article in WM 14, where I tried to find a link between the taste of a whisky and the rock type near the distillery. The analysis I did could not detect any such link (which doesn't necessarily mean it isn't there; I just couldn't detect it). This suggests to me that the influence, if any, will be minor and be swamped by other factors (such as the wood).
Lex, perhaps we should not jump to conclusions here. Before we get the opportunity of comparing malts watered down with the "Authentic Spring Water" and "Plain Glasgow Tap Water", we don't really know, do we?
Glenfiddich and Springbank are the only distilleries that truthfully can say "we use only local springwater" on their bottles
But I remember Ian "Laphroaig" (when I was visiting the distillery on Islay) explaining that soft or hard water can really influence the distillation process.
Sorry to go on about this but it does strike me as absurd. This is an extract from Glenmorangie's website: "Mineral rich water
The water itself comes from the Tarlogie Springs, which rises cheerfully and magically about a mile above the distillery. Set about with pines, the crystal pool is secluded and mysterious, its surface gently troubled by the waters bubbling up from below.
These waters once fell as rain on the Hill of Tain, in the shadow of where the springs are discovered, then filtered down through lime and sandstone rocks, gathering precious minerals on the way, before rising again at Tarlogie.
Water is used in every stage of the distillation process.
It can take up to one hundred years for the falling rain to re-emerge as spring water—'the water of Glenmorangie's life'. So precious is our source of water that we acquired the entire catchment area of the Spring—some 650 acres. "
To which they then add nearly a third of a litre of de-mineralised water at the dilution stage.
I am sure the Yanks lap up this nonsense, but doesn't it over-sentimentalise a wonderfully straightforward process. I think I might start a one man "Cut the Crap in Malt" campaign!
The SWDA - the perfect body to launch your "Cut the Crap" campaign!
PS: Never could understand how "pure spring water" can be full of "precious minerals."
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Glen and Iain, here are some suggested societal acronyms:
QUAICH: Quit Untrue Advertising Inclusively.Choose Honesty.
DRAM: Drinkers' Revolution in Advertising & Marketing.
WASH: Whisky Advertising Society for Honesty.
DRAFF: Drinkers Revolt Against Fundamental Falsehoods.
GLEN: Grand Lies Elevate Nothing.
Lex -- is it possible for you to forward in email to me a copy of your contribution to WM Issue 14? Sounds interesting, and I always enjoy your thoughts.
However the main benefit of using "refined" water for topping up the bottles is one of health reasons, the distillation process ensures that any "unpalatables" in the source water are either left behind in the still or boiled until harmless, I think I'll stick with the present system thanks.
There are no "health benefits" using refined water instead of mineral water. But it is cheaper...
Mineral water is subject to a number of regulations, not forgetting several from the EU.
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