Artificially Coloured Malts - Ok, I deleted them 'cause I'm not sure, and it has already been published on this website...
We all wish artificial coloring in malts would go away, but it is my decidedly arbitrary and uninformed opinion that the problem is greatly exaggerated--not in terms of numbers, obviously, but in terms of deleterious effect on the product. But I'm sure that I will be contradicted shortly!
There is widespread misunderstanding, I think, on the flavor effect of spirit caramel. People expect it to add excessive sweetness. Someone here noted that it actually has a bitter taste. In any case, I suspect (without claiming any particular knowledge) that in most cases, we are talking about minuscule amounts of spirit caramel, with little or no discernable flavor impact. I still would rather they didn't do it.
I met Lorne MacKillop here a couple of years ago when he was out in Australia promoting his malts. He had with him a small sample bottle of spirit caramel, which I was able to nose. The smell was sickly sweet, a bit like vanilla/caramel essence used in cooking.
I had a very generous dram of his Glenlivet poured, and I sampled it and assessed it clean first. I then, very carefully, added just the teeniest, tiniest drop of spirit caramel.
What can I say? The dram turned darker, and there was a significant and noticeable shift in flavour. To me, it tasted duller. Not sweeter, or more bitter....just dulled.
The lesson was not lost on me.
I will still bet that in many cases we are talking about almost infinitessimal shifts in color, and a lower proportion of caramel than what you have just described. But, as I have tried to take pains to say, I am theorizing, and there is, as the lady said, no substitute for experience.
Not only would we, the discerning consumers, hail that as a more honest modus operandi; as well, the chatter out here about the relative merits of various batches would increase a thousandfold, creating more interest. After all, no serious vintner is expected to make exactly the same wine year after year. That is the province of Gallo, Budweiser, and McDonald's.
Indeed! Perhaps this is the future - if it turns out to be a future selling point. And as the single malt market is booming nowadays it should be possible?
MrTattieHeid wrote:It's done for standardization of standard bottlings, so that Balvenie 10, for example, will always be the same color. Ideally we are talking about very minor adjustments. However, there is no doubt that some whiskies are made to look considerably darker for "esthetic" reasons. I don't know if that's the case with Lagavulin, and I don't mean to pick on them, but I've long regarded that orangey hue to be rather unnnatural-looking.
you know i always wondered the same. right now i have open bottles of lagavulin and compass box eleuthera and you cant have a more disparate coloring for two whiskies that are somewhat similar in profile. i wonder if there is any way to find out from a reliable source.
maybe this also shows that if done judiciously coloring may not adversely affect a whisky since by most accounts lagavulin is much revered.
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