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Whisky Wisdom: What Is Chill-Filtration And Why Does It Matter?

Whisky Wisdom: What Is Chill-Filtration And Why Does It Matter?

Source: Whisky Foundation

Just from the title alone, I bet many of you are already wondering what in the world chill-filtration means. For those of you know, I applaud your vast whisky-related knowledge. That being said, don’t be discouraged if you don’t what it means.

If you’ve had the pleasure of trying many whiskies, have you ever noticed that some of them have a noticeably cloudier appearance than others which just appear to be clear gold in colour?

They Were Non-Chill Filtered

Source: Alcohol Analyzed

That cloudiness is a result of not chill-filtrating whiskies. Compare the two glasses above and I’m pretty sure you’d be able to tell which one has been chill-filtered. Before going any further, allow me to explain what exactly chill-filtration means.

Essentially, chill-filtration is a process that occurs before a whisky is bottled and is done by chilling the alcohol down to extremely low temperatures typically around 0°C or lower. Following this, the alcohol is filtered to remove unwanted particles before it warms up.

Why Does Chill-Filtration Even Matter?

Source: VinePair

Well, to some it doesn’t at all and that’s completely fine, but if you get a bottle of whisky with an ABV that’s less than 46%, which most scotch falls under, it will typically form that cloudiness mentioned earlier when left in low temperatures or if water and/or ice is added to it.

Distillers chill-filter their whiskies for aesthetic purposes. However, some people believe that through chill-filtration, the molecules that contribute to a whiskey’s flavour and mouth feel are also lost in the process.

Do Chill-Filtered Whiskies Taste Bad?

Source: GreatDrams

As I mentioned earlier, some distillers believe that chill-filtration removes a lot of essential flavours and molecules which some feel should be present for a better-tasting whisky.

Bourbon makers in the U.S. typically use this method (eg: Jim Beam, Wild Turkey) whereas European distillers, especially scotch makers, generally leave their whiskies non-chill filtered.

In my own opinion though, whisky is almost always delicious regardless of how they’re processed.

Source: Whisky Advocate

At the end of the day, different people will obviously have varying opinions on which type of whisky is better than the other.

With that in mind, the best thing to do is just enjoy the whisky you want in the way you want to.

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