There's a lot of talk about aging and warehouses and barrels and stills and mashbills and yeast and vatting, and how all of these influence the flavor of bourbon, but I haven't heard all that much about chill filtering - basically the final step before bottling.
If you talk to the scotch people, there's this uproar among the connisseur types about how chill filtering takes away flavor and aroma without any real benefit, and so (at least for the high end stuff) it shouldn't be done at all.
I recently got to try the same scotch chill-filtered, and un-chill-filtered (the famous Laphroaig / Leapfrog for those keeping score), and by gum, there is a difference. The non-chill-filtered has more yummies.
Arguments for chill filtering are basically that the un-informed consumer gets a little unhappy when the drink is cold and develops a "chill haze". And that's about it - purely cosmetic.
Does chill filtering have a large effect on the enticing aroma and great taste of bourbon? When did people start chill filtering? Are there variations in the process/extent of chill filtering? Are there un-chill-filtered bourbons? Is this one of the big secrets of making great bourbon (refrain from taking away the flavor?)
- A very curious Tim Dellinger