Monday, August 11, 2008

ri 1

A couple of months ago I was contacted by some market researchers who wanted my thoughts on American Whiskey. I told them I was looking for transparency as to what is actually in the bottle (what distillery, mash bill, higher proof, no chill filtering.) They in turn gave me absolutely no information at all as to what they were researching for.

John Hansel of the Malt Advocate might have just shown us. There is a lot I like about this bottle right away without having even held it yet. 46 ABV means no chill filtering, it's not overly aged, we know it was made on the Jim Beam stills, these are all things I really like. Lets see what it tastes like in a few months.


camper said...

Why does the higher proof equal no chill filtering?

Neyah White said...

Great question C.

To be fair, a higher proof does not neccessarily mean non-chill filtered, but it does imply it for a number of reasons. First, whisk(e)y bottlers make more money when they add more water and bring their juice down to 40% ABV (the minimum percentage allowable if it is to be classified as spirit.) Therefor, there is no real reason to offer a higher proof unless you are also bottling a superiorly handled spirit.

Secondly, that higher proof is the magic 91 or 46% ABV. At this level of dilution, the spirit will cloud when chilled, but will also release the cloudiness when it approaches room temp again. The clouding will not release as easily (if ever) at higher proofs. Even knowing exactly what is going on, it would be hard for me to purchase a cloudy bottle of whiskey.

camper said...

Interesting. You're saying that at higher than 46%, it stays cloudy once it gets cloudy? So if a whisky were listed as 47%, you would guess it was chill filtered?

Neyah White said...

No, not exactly. I only say that the only reason to bottle at 46% is so that your non-chillfiltered spirit looks pretty in the bottle.

My only real personal experience in this area is with making bitters with a 150 proof rum. I am sure the spirit was chill-filtered before I got it, but I went ahead and added fats and such by infusing and chipping. These bitters cloud when they hit cold drinks. However, if I I frezze them and run them through a Britta water filter, the effect goes away.

From the Bruichladdich website

Chill filtration is an industrial process designed to remove esters in whisky which could form hazes and deposits when stored at low temperature. The principal components responsible for this occurrence are the ethyl esters of lauric, palmitic and palmitoleic acids. These three esters are formed by reacting ethanol with the relevant fatty acid, and are soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in water. This is why we bottle at the higher strength of 46%. Increasing water content in whisky, for example by adding water prior to bottling at a lower % or in the glass, can result in cloudiness as a result of this insolubility. The insolubility of ethyl esters in water tends to increase with molecular chain 1ength. Thus the ethyl esters of acids of shorter chain length (e.g. ethyl acetate, hexanoate, octanoate) do not cause haze problems in whisky. Solubility is also dependent on temperature. When spirits with relatively high concentrations of the highlighted esters are subjected to low or fluctuating temperatures, hazes can appear in the spirit.

Ethyl esters can be reduced by refrigeration followed by filtration known as "chill filtration". Whilst the esters above are minor influences on whisky flavour, chill filtration also removes more flavour critical components, as well as fatty acids that count for the richer ‘mouth feel’ and ‘persistence’ of flavour.

camper said...