Non-Chill Filtered whiskies are usually released at 46% abv or higher. But not always! The rep I spoke with at Spirit of Toronto for Duncan Taylor said their regional whiskies (40% abv) were all non-chill filtered. I think Te Bheag (NCF) is also about 40-43% abv.
So here's my question. Why are NCF whiskies usually released at 46%? Can they be bottled at a lower strength? If they can, why the tendancy to release at 46% or higher?
Thanks in advance.
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46% abv is the "magic" point where the cloudiness that appears when the whisky in the bottle is cooled down disappears again when it is back at room temperature.
Meaning, at 46% abv a cooling whisky does form clouds which dissolve again without any trace when it reaches about 16-18° C. 46% abv is a level where the alcohol content is high enough to dissolve the clouds again without heating the whisky.
You can bottle a non chill-filtered whisky at 40% or 43% abv but when you let it go cold, the clouds will not vanish when room temperature is restored. They will also not vanish again when you put ice into the whisky because the melting ice dilutes the whisky. That applies to a 46% abv also.
On the other hand it its inconsistant to not chill-filter for more flavour and taste and then to dilute to 40% abv which does take out flavour and taste as well. That counteracts the effect of the not chill-filtering.
I do not want to lecture but are you sure that the Duncan Taylor representative meant their 40% bottlings when he talked about non chill-filtering? I have not seen a Duncan Taylor bottling yet which stated "Non chill-filtered" and was below 46% abv.
Wish they would make it mandatory to state it on the bottle (coloring also) but the likes of Diageo will not allow that to happen
It's to do with the congeners & fatty acids (good bits!) freezing in transit, eg overseas export, so the recent practise amongst the big guns such as Diageo and many others is to chill-filter and water down to 40%. Leading lights among the proprietory bottlers at 46% UCF are Ardbeg, which to me is a big part of it's recent success.
The Lonach collection from DTC is unique in that they have sourced casks where one is down below the minumum 40% abv so they vat it with another one above 40% abv to make it legally called whisky. Not sure if they are UCF tho.
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I was under the impression that 46% is thought to be (by a lot of so call experts) the best abv balance in regards to dilution and keeping closest to the character of the whiskey at cask strength. Reducing to anything under that should be left up to the discretion of the drinker.
Don't know if that is true or not though.
irishwhiskeychaser wrote:I was under the impression that 46% is thought to be (by a lot of so call experts) the best abv balance in regards to dilution and keeping closest to the character of the whiskey at cask strength.
I think that's what people tend to say when they are selling whisk(e)y at 46%. Probably because it sounds better than saying that 46% is the weakest they can make it without making it go cloudy. I'm also not totally persuaded that chill filtering harms the taste of whisky. It would be interesting to try some of the same whiskies at the same strength in both cf and ucf versions. Maybe that would offer me the evidence to persuade me.
Willie JJ wrote:Roughly it sounds like Chay Vek. Somebody please feel free to offer a better explanation.
Sounds right to me.
I wonder does it take away of the cogeners that we can actually taste in the first place?
Yes, the difference is very tangible and noticeable.
To novices, it's not always so noticeable in the taste, but it's clearly identifiable in the mouthfeel. The fats and congeners that are removed by chillfiltering are actually oils.
So NCF whiskies typically have a much oiler, juicer mouthfeel, and usually a stronger flavour too.
I demonstrate this at every tasting I host. If you pour water very slowly and carefully down the side of your glass, you can actually get the water to "lift" and separate the oils from the whisky. Dip your finger into the glass so that it doesn't penetrate the oily layer. Then remove and rub your fingers together and feel the slippery, greasy, oily texture. That's the stuff that contributes to the mouthfeel and contains a lot of flavour.
Now imagine that your dram had all those oils and flavours removed!
The vast majority of whisky I drink these days is cask strength and NCF. I'm afraid that when I taste a chill-filtered whisky, it usually fails to impress me, because I'm just used to more flavour and a better mouthfeel.
I've mentioned before, I saw a bottle of Bladnoch, unchillfiltered at 40%, at the distillery. Since I was only allowed one sample , I didn't get to try it, but it was as cloudy as an unfiltered weissbier.
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I think the practice of chill-filtering and colouring should be abandoned altogether as it is confusing and suggests possible quality issues with the single malt fans. Why not just write on the back label that added water and haze/cloudiness is perfectly natural with for a single malt whisky and is a sign of "high quality" or something similar?
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