For the record; Chivas got me started on my Scotch journey 30 years ago. My uncle gave me my first taste on my 21st birthday... a Rusty Nail made with Chivas. I drank Chivas for a few years untill I discovered the wonderfull world of single malts and the myriad of other blended Scotches that are out there.
As much as I love Bourbon (and I really do love it) Scotch will always be #1 with me.
If you live in Germany or Denmark, the whisky label on the bottle will state what coloring, if any, is added. This is by law down there.
I am not sure how Arran aged theres. I do remember Arran being quite pale.
Last edited by LeoDLion; 06-14-2011 at 14:53.
aCnoc 16 is matured exclusively in used bourbon barrels. Even at 16 years old it is the color of Chardonnay. It's not colored, obviously. In contrast, Laphroaig 10 CS is a little darker (even when brought down to proof), but still natural color.
Highland Park doesn't color any of their whiskies any more, but they use a lot of refill sherry butts. Their 12 y/o is a pretty "average" gold color, as is the 15.
Aberlour A'Bunadh is (I believe) first-fill sherry. Of course it's not age stated but it's probably a vatting of 10 to 16 year old butts. It's a deep amber, all natural.
There are plenty of examples of official bottlings which are significantly darker than uncolored indies from the same distillery at the same age. Dalmore is a great example of this, the official 12 is ridiculously dark while older indy bottlings are far lighter.
None of that really makes a difference in terms of quality... as I said, the old-timers will tell you that a little spirit caramel can help marry the casks together. But most of the distillers who are not adding caramel are stating it on the label because it's a selling point to a certain subset of the market. So if it doesn't say uncolored on the label, it very likely is.
And in terms of volume, blends are what, 90% of the Scotch market? And virtually all of them are colored.
Right. You may get decent color from a used bourbon barrel the first time, but the fifth or sixth or tenth, maybe not, and as they fall apart the coopers take staves that are still good and make other barrels out of them.
They often take the bourbon barrel staves and make bigger barrels out of them, which provides less surface contact for the whiskey, too.
I will agree that second or third refilled charred casks will impart less color than the "new" ones imported from the US. Arran which is light is exactly this kind. I doubt if cask are reused more than 3 times or so as is. It depends on the distillery. They can break it apart, shave it, make the barrel and charred it again. Or they just might decide its used.
There is no coloring declaring on any label except some European countries. Stop saying that most scotches are colored if you don't provide proof. Without proof, its conjecture, not fact.
Anyway without any concrete proof, we can huff and puff until our faces are red and we can not reach a conclusion. If you have any friends in Denmark or Germany or if we have listers from there they can look at the labels and send us info. There are so many misinformation stated here but I will not argue with it. Readers be wary.
Anyway no more post from me on this subject. I'd rather enjoy my whisky.
Last edited by LeoDLion; 06-16-2011 at 06:00.
Not huffing, just posting a quote from someone very familiar with Diageo practices. Also if you search you will find that Diageo has admitted to using caramel coloring in Lagavullin.
To be honest, the whole use of E150A is not a big deal to me as I only worry about what the final product tastes like.
It's not so much about whether or not this or that scotch has color added. The point is that they can add it and in most places, including the USA, the coloring doesn't have to be disclosed.
And since we're talking about scotch, shouldn't it be spelled 'colouring'? With the punctuation inside the quote. And shouldn't it be 'spelt' instead of 'spelled'?
The justification for permitting coloring is that without it, scotches could noticeably vary in color, so you might open cases of Johnnie Walker from different batches and see that one batch is noticeably lighter or darker than another. Like flock haze, the retailer will consider this a flaw.
You may want to talk about what obscure single malt colors, but the reason for the allowance is so mass-produced products can adjust the color of their product so it's uniform.
Even though that is the intention you can't make intention part of the rule, so the rule says you may add spirit caramel.
If authentic color is important to the producer they can state that no color is added and I see no reason to doubt such claims.
But if the producer doesn't disclaim coloring, then you can't really evaluate the color because you don't know where it came from, the barrel or the bottle. You can speculate but it's pointless since it's based on nothing.
Last edited by cowdery; 06-16-2011 at 15:25.
Col. Charles K. "Crotchety" Cowdery
"Whiskey Don't Keep."
I have just revisited this thread after ages it seems. Anyway...I am once again looking a blended scotch whisky to get an idea of the single malts that I might want to try. I recall like the Islay style whisky. Laphroig but am inexperienced with the other styles. I have had Glenmoraingie but do not recall what area or style that is.
Today, I am thinking of getting a bottle of Black Bottle, will that be typical of Islay malts?
Glenmorangie is definitely not Islay. It's in the highlands (and unpeated).
Black Bottle is a blend made entirely from Islay whisky, so yes, it will be "typical" Islay. However, there is a good deal of variation in styles of whisky even on Islay—not all are peaty, for instance, and even when they are, their profiles can differ substantially. In any case, Black Bottle is a very good value.
If you enjoy Black Bottle and are looking for another blend to try, I strongly recommend Té Bheag (pronounced "Chay Vek"). It's an excellent blend as well, and hits some classic Islay notes. If you'd like to try some single or vatted malts instead, I'd recommend Ardbeg (e.g. the 10), Laphroaig (e.g. the Quarter Cask), Lagavulin (e.g. the 16, which is a benchmark, if somewhat overrated, whisky in my books), Caol Ila, Big Peat, and Port Charlotte. You might also try the Talisker 10 and the Longrow CV—neither are from Islay, but both are very good and strongly related to the "typical" Islay profile.
"Good" may be subjective, but that doesn't mean it's arbitrary.