Most of us choose the latter option and the industry is following our lead
Most whiskies under 46% are chill filtered.
And technically cask strength is the strength at which the whiskies comes out of the cask at. This is usually in the 50%'s to the 60%'s.
46% percent whiskies have been diluted with water down from cask strength to 46%.
The second is chill haze, which occurs when the whisky drops below a certain temperature. This is the fatty elements actually dropping out of solution, presumably because even alcohol cannot hold them in solution below said temperature. (They can then be easily filtered out, which is what chillfiltering is.)
Both of these phenomena are caused by the presence of these substances which do not dissolve easily in water, but they are not the same thing. In the first instance, the stuff never actually drops out of solution.
C_I wrote:I cannot prove the whisky actually clears up, because due to the practical fact that the whisky does not have the chance to clear up when drinking (unless you are willing to let it stand for a long time)..........But straightforward I would say, as it is a stable suspension, once you got the cloudiness, it stays.
Every time I use water the whisky always clears up! We're not talking about a very long time either. After nosing and swirling the whisky around in the glass it becomes clear in minuttes rather than hours so to say. I won't guess but I'd say 10 minuttes or even quicker!
If you want to complicate matters even further you should consider that the "so called" cask strength is in most cases a result of diluting whisky with water before it reaches the cask. You could very well say that most cask strenght whiskies only refer to cask strength in name and not in practice. The reason for watering out/diluting the new make spirit is because of a more or less official standard to suit the blenders.
I can't remember where I read it but I remember the reason was because of some kind of standardisation in order to sell the whisky as required by blenders. And it makes sense as it's easier to price your product, or for that matter buy, when you know the strength is a standard one and not a randome value. Another possible reason is that the blends consisting of a variety of whiskies are made up of relatively consistent recipies - and then it's helpfull to know exactly what you get. Just a few thoughts though.
I seem to recall the the dilution of new spirit which has a strength of about 70-75% abv down to 63,5% is a rule of thumb which has developed by experience.
Depending on where the barrel is stored in a warehouse the loss of content is quite different. In a high warehouse just beneath the roof the barrels lose more water than alcohol over the years especially in hot summers so that the strength goes actually up! That can have a rather unpleasant result tastewise.
In cooler regions of a warehouse the loss of alcohol in relation to water is higher over the years so that the strength can fall down to levels which are unsavoury as well.
Diluting to 63.5% abv strength before putting the barrels into storage is a compromise between the lenght of the maturing period and the loss of alcohol during this period, no matter where the barrel matures.
Lawrence, I used to add water to my whisky but haven't done that in some months now. I'm quite certain that the haze/cloudiness disappeared after a while - but then I didn't keep a lid on the glass.
I'll have to check again today! Oh, another good reason to drink whisky in the week - and I'm on the summer holliday
How much water did you add? Can you estimate the level of alcohol you arrived at? If I understand all this correctly, the whisky won't clear if it's below 46%, but will if it's above. But that's a big if (me understanding, that is). And maybe the water used would have an effect--who knows what's in your tap water.
The reason that whisky is diluted to 63.5% before going into the cask is so that when companies tradse stocks back and forth they don't have to do a whole series of calulations.
They can simply agree that my 50 casks of Islay XXXX 10 year old is worth the same as your 62 cask of Speyside XXX 9 year old. They can then go off and blend them as they wish.
Lawrence it is so if the cases are swept at once. And it is a good reason for doing it at a standard level. Not all barrels got to blending companies at once, though. If barrels are exchanged after a time of maturation we are at the starting point again. The angles share changes the value of a cask over time. Another interesting aspect of this topic is if all malts are of the same value in the esteem of the blending industry. I recall that some single malts are more sought then others. Macallan is/was considered as a premium malt in blending because it is said that it brings the quality of a blend to a higher level. I can´t remember the exact term used for such whiskies at the moment. Another one (Highland Park? again not sure here) is considered to be a catalyst whisky which brings flavours together in greater harmony in any blend. There a more such snippits of information in my memory, read somewhere in the books but I can not recollect them all now at this moment.
Sorry for that.
As for angels' share, I suppose that most barrels designated for blending are shipped out to their destinations pretty much right after filling. That leaves the question of why casks intended for malts are diluted to the same strength, and I can only guess that it's simply to keep everything in the plant on the same standard. Simpler, fewer mistakes.
And as for the relative value of various malts--I suspect the real issue is what is due the exciseman, whose cut is based on volume of pure alcohol. Having a standard strength makes the bookkeeping easier when swapping barrels around.
just found a bit of interesting information concerning chill-filtering. It is from an interview Loch Fyne did with Andrew Symington. He reveals that watering down a cask of malt does change chemistry and taste.
"LFW: Describe the bottling process.
A cask will be pumped in to a vat at which time we assess the strength. If required it will be reduced to bottling strength of 43 or 46% with de-mineralised water and allowed a day or two to settle. Reactions between whisky and water are slow; fatty acids convert into esters and aldehides and there is a lot of heat generated and some bubbling. If we are doing a lot of single casks and I can’t afford for a vat to be tied up we will put it back into a holding butt for a week and return to it when ready. That marrying time makes a big difference. Single malt is a very delicate substance and we will not push it through our system at full speed, it agitates the spirit to push it fast.
If bottled at 43% we will chill-filter it somewhere between zero and +4°C depending on how oily the whisky is; bigger companies it might be anything from -5 to -10°C.
LFW: Why chill it at all?
Without it, an oily whisky will go cloudy as the fatty flavour congeners come out of solution and give a haze; there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not very appealing in the bottle. By reducing the temperature, the oils solidify and are separated out in paper filter plates. The result is a clear and stable product. Sometimes we don’t always get it right, there may still be a little cloudiness.
Unchilfiltered and cask strength whiskies are bottled at the ambient temperature which in Edinburgh can be highish or low. It’s the old way of doing it before fridge plants came on the scene, and in winter even they would still be slightly chill-filtered! We try to do a lot of our unchillfiltered work in the summer and at other times we warm it to the ambient bottling temperature 20°C.
Chilfiltered or not, the whisky is always barrier-filtered to remove solids, bits of wood and charcoal from the cask. The filters are made of compressed paper and we change them after every bottling. No one gets to take them home! They have a little bleach sprayed onto them before disposal—it’s Customs rules.
Then if we have cooled it we have to heat it up! The European standard temperature for the volumetric bottling of liquids is 20°C so it we use a heat exchanger—in Edinburgh that can be a lot of heating!
From the filters it goes to a holding tank and then on to our new bottling machine which is (nearly!) fully automatic. We had a bigger machine scaled down to fit the space available, it’s about 6.5 metres long and looks like a model railway with bottles chinking along—sometimes I believe I can hear it choo-choo! Happily the new machine copes with most labels and so the number of people required has fallen to just four, one third that before. Previously every label had to be applied by hand—sit down, knees together, take label from the gumming machine and place it on. You can bottle about 600 bottles in an hour that way but it is very tiresome."
The complete text at http://www.lfw.co.uk/whisky_review/SWR1 ... e18-3.html
sorry to be bothering again. Here a interesting glimpse into the workings of the blending industry.
http://www.ssi-world.com/gencontent/cas ... tewart.htm
an interesting short overview on chill-filtering can be found here.
http://www.thewhiskyguide.com/Articles/ ... ering.html
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