Michael Jackson stated once that the eye wants a treat too, while Jim Murray is the complete opposite and states that color doesnt matter.
Personally i agree wholeheartedly with Jim Murray, even more i blame people that say they want a "nice dark" dram or they go like "oh my, look at that color!! Yummie!" it is because of those people we have this thing called Caramel. That and the illusion of consistency in whisky and more specific color of whisky. Lets face it, if you let nature do her thing, no whisky is consistent in either flavor and color! as this is a fact why cant we accept it?
anyway, i just need to know how the whisky drinking community feels about this.
As for more serious malt drinkers...given the choice between a nice looking whisky and a poor looking one (I'll get to that in a minute) I'd rather a good colour IF it didn't affect the taste. I grant that I would rather drink something very pale than something too sweet BUT if taste is equal, I would rather a nice colour.
Colour can even affect how one taste things. I was given a bottle of Cadenhead's 12 year old Highland Park, which, not to put too fine a point on it, looked like weak urine. I was wholly unimpressed with it, and can't help but think that the colour may have swayed my opinion before I tasted it.
If you think that I am talking rubbish, try an experiment. Next time a friend asks for red wine give them white with some blackcurrant cordial in it. Most will not notice.
Am I going to buy whisky by colour? No. Would I rather it was a deep sherried colour, rather than a very weak yellow? Yes (perhaps, just perhaps, because I tend to like more sherried and older whiskies).
In these cases, it can give you clues or hints as to whether it was matured in a bourbon or sherry cask, and sometimes give an indication as to how old the whisky might be.
I once had a 16yo Ardbeg from the SMWS that was the palest of pale white wines. Yes, it was paler than mr_a_non weak urine! And yet - on both the nose and the palate - it was one of the most spectacular Islay's I've ever tried.
However, I don't pay much attention to colour with the majority of OB's, and certainly not with blends, because I know caramel has had more of an influence than anything else.
A very cheap blend that seems to be popular here in Australia is "The Black Douglas". It retails for about $23, which is less than 10GBP, or roughly US$16. I understand it to be approximately 75/25 grain to malt ratio, and the whiskies are 3 to 5 years old. Yet it's darker than the nearly all of the aged single malts, including the 18yo Macallan!!
However i have never let the color change my opinion or way of tasting. at the contrary, if i see a pale yellow islay before me i know for sure its pure and i am almost certain it will blow my socks off.
So what you're saying is that you DO let colour influence your expectation, only 'the other way around' (;o)!
I think it's very hard for the colour of a whisky not to have any effect on you whatsoever, no matter how hard you try. Only way to avoid that happening is to never look at the bottle, drink from a blue glass, etc.
Today a lot of Distillery Bottles are colored(excluding the exceptions from some distilleries), while de indepents rule in this matter when it comes to color. I won't say that all the Distillery Bottles are colored, that's why I said: excluding some exceptions in the industry. In most cases an origional bottle from a distillery, a special edition has a natural color.
It doesn't mean straight away that all the colored whisky is nothing worth. No, in the contrary there are still some good whisky's left who are maybe colred, but they are still good. And I think that still the most of us(including myself) who have some bottles of whisky on the shelf wich are colored, because there are still some brands you like who color their whisky, and what's wrong with that? Sometimes you simply can't avoid that.
I believe that the matter of coloring has been discussed here on this site before. It's all a matter of uniform code. I believe that the group of true coinnoisseurs are still the to small world wide for the producers to say: Allright we stop coloring right away
For what it's worth,
I had a bottle of Signatory Unchillfiltered Collection Caol Ila 1990, the color of pinot grigio. It was dreadful, the worst Caol Ila I've ever had by far, quite harsh. I surmise that it came from a well-used, tired cask; the color was a clue. But I could see possibly an equally pale whisky being very good, in which case the color would still be a point of interest. It's just another characteristic to think and talk about.
mr_a_non wrote:As for more serious malt drinkers...given the choice between a nice looking whisky and a poor looking one (I'll get to that in a minute) I'd rather a good colour IF it didn't affect the taste. I grant that I would rather drink something very pale than something too sweet BUT if taste is equal, I would rather a nice colour.
If I had the choice between a nice looking bottle and an ugly bottle, I would choose the nice looking one. That does not mean that it matters how the bottle looks.
That caramel thing is a shame. My point is that the colour is not importent for me when I choose whisky. The nose choose which one to drink. Not chill-filtered whiskies are often pale... And I'm a big fan of not chill-filtering
It's funny how some people get impressed and think the whisky is strong when it's dark... Well, let them live in their fantasies
At the end of the day the factors of taste, mouthfeel, finish and overall balance are more important.
Lawrence you are right but i dont completely agree with you. Color did give clues of the cask and age before they added caramel in it but nowadays color is completely irrelevant. just because they add caramel you cant trust your eyes anymore.
Also i doubt there would be so much of a discussion about color if there was no coloring at all. simply because it would be very very inconsistent.
IMHO thats the only future of single malt whisky. But thats for another thread.
However, it's one of the darkest whiskies on the shelf! It's even darker than an 18yo Macallan! So sadly, a lot of innocently ignorant drinkers assume that whisky is supposed to be dark.
Lawrence - be careful what company you are in when you describe yourself as a butt head!
In the beginning when making notes, I made a note of colour as well. Now I do not even make notes of anything at all .
My prime interest lies in the taste and nose (in this order). Nosing and tasting a whisky (or as Philip Hills expresses so beautifully: appreciating whisky) is like a journey full of discoveries.
I quite like that journey. Part of the fun to assess colour and texture and guess what to expect and then to find out whether these expectations come out.
The larger part of my whiskies are in the mean time IB's with the pleasent habit not to colour or to chill filter, so I I can have more fun.
At first i was very sceptic at the very concept of IB's because in my ignorance i thought they ruined it for the OB's. However it is only thanks to Independents we still get to taste some of the closed distillerys whiskys. And thanks to IB's like OMC and Blackadder Raw cask we got some whisky's that are not only as pure as you can get them but also extremely good.
I already join you on the behalf of Caol Ila, apart from the OB CS, i find all the IB's better then the 12 and 18.
This is very interesting and somewhat frightening development. Soon we'll have to turn to IB's if we want true for our money. While IB's are known for their diversity and willingness to break the distillerys traditions at the moment.
Isn't Bourbon pretty? Of course it is and it has come by its beauty naturally, it is entitled to it. I think that bourbon has set a standard in the popular imagination for what a whiskey should look like, even scotch whisky. And of course, scotch whisky is sometimes dark, too. So, if you want to sell whisky you add caramel, at least some of the time. And pack your bottles in fake satin lined boxes and all that. Still, there is a lot of good whiskey out there (some of it is bourbon!) and we can be thankful for that.
I would like to ask the group if anyone has tried adding caramel E150 (is that right?) to a sample that you know well and seeing if you could taste the difference? Be sure and use your cobalt glasses. Jim Murray claims to have done so and to have convinced some unnamed person in the industry that caramel does have a deleterious effect on his product.
I will repeat what I've said before--I do care what my whisky looks like. I want it to look like it does naturally, right out of the cask. It's not the most important thing, but it is a point of interest. If I didn't care, then I wouldn't care what color they put in it. I want to see what it really looks like, undoctored. And that's why I voted yes in this poll.
been some experiment.
The caramel was droped into the chosen whisky, drop by drop.
The whisky nose did't change that much (hard to decect any changes at all) whith "nolmally" amount of colur. But with the
whisky "black" (Loch Dhu), the nose was suppresed and got an
The taste was more sensitive for the caramel, even with small
coulor change a different taste was detected and the finish become
With too much caramel the whisky was hard to drink.......
We have just started our experiment and will do some more
in the future, but one thing for sure:
CARAMEL INFLUENCE THE WHISKY and in my opinion the whisky
should taste only whisky, so no caramel in my whisky, please.
Crispy Critter wrote:That was one thing that really surprised my about Ardbeg 10 - and, for that matter, a Signatory UCF bottling of Caol Ila that I had. In spite of their very pale color, they are quite flavorful!
And is sold in a bottle you cant see the expressions' color in.
Like some already expressed before, I think it'll be really hard NOT to have let color have any effect on you.
And why shouldnt it be part of enjoying a whisky. Nothing wrong with looking at the color for several reasons, such as cask type, finish, etc. All asuming no E150 has been used (other then keeping color consistent, without altering the 'native' color of the beast?).
You just have to appreciate the value color has, and not interpreted it in the way you for example value the color of a red wine, where color is far more important then in a whisky.
Just my 0.02 cents.
Did you dilute it first with water? You are supposed to dilute it in water before you add it to the whisky.
On a side note, where did you get it? im asking around everywhere but that stuff is hard to come by. In two weeks ill be asking it directly to the belgian distiller. (who makes no secret of using caramel...) But in case i cant get it from him i really would like to know where to get it.
I got it from a whisky friend from the internet, he works in the
"suger industri" and has obviously some contacts.
On the bottle I have can I read as follows:
Regarding the "dilution". No, I did´t dilute it with water, maybe I
have to make more tests
But to reach a particular grade of colour, you have to use even
more caramel if it's diluted with water........
Maybe you have some more information on this matter ?
I cant help you at this time, as i have no caramel myself. I heard you have to dilute it with water from a person that did various experiments himself. I will try to find out what i can from the belgian distillery in two weeks, they were comforteble in telling they use it in the start, so i hope they will still share some info about it. whatever i hear i will tell you.
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