November 9, 2009 4:54 pm at 4:54 pm #675743A600KiloBearParticipant
When I bought that Caol Ila, it was after a self imposed ban due to a psak from Rav Landa shlita that NO scotch was acceptable. I believe Rav Landa’s office does have a list of approved scotches at this time.
All of the rest of my information is from a renowned kashrus expert, namely Rabbi Don Yoel Levy – OK Labs. He backed up his statements with pictures from the Johnnie Walker Distillery. However, he does not make definitive statements regarding that which he does not certify.
Nevertheless, I do not purchase sherry cask aged scotches for public consumption, and since I do not drink in private that means I don’t purchase such scotches. It is not worth arguing with someone over or having someone suspect me in general. The only way I would consume same is if it was given to me as a gift or served at a reliable friend’s home or kiddush.November 9, 2009 7:31 pm at 7:31 pm #675744
51 posts? about the pros and cons of Scotch? No wonder we have a teen (and adult) drinking problem.
Not that we are to shoulder the blame entirely; a prominent yeshiva just mailed out its annual auction catalouge, and one of the $25 tickets is for $1800 (yes eighteen HUNDRED dollars) worth of booze. 10-12 bottles, some scotch, some bourbon. There is also a smaller package, mostly the brands I can afford. (those tickets are $10)
Disclaimer: I’m a once-a-week drinker. But to engage in a discussion about it? We have some proirities to examine. I once heard the said in the name of a early 1900s mashgiach, “its bad enough to express a like (or dislike) about food” but to TALK about the virtues of certain foods? That’s in the geder of nivul peh.
Wow, have we fallenNovember 9, 2009 7:54 pm at 7:54 pm #675745cholentkugelkishkeMember
BP Totty – most of the posts are regarding the halachic status of scotches.November 9, 2009 9:55 pm at 9:55 pm #675746
I realize that without providing sources, my comments may not be taken as any more reliable than comments here to the contrary. Below are some sources that may help clear some things up as to what’s really going on and may dispel some myths about all casks filled with scotch first being thoroughly washed out, dried out, smoked out, coaled out, etc. Enjoy!
1999 interview (it’s on the web) with then head of distilleries and maturation at Glenmorangie:
How many fills do you get from a cask?
My requirement is that the cask must not have been sitting around and be all dried out. Ideally the wine is emptied out completely, the cask resealed and shipped to Scotland within a couple of weeks. Most arrive dry but they do have a lining of crystals of tartrate and such like. The fortified wine casks are dry to moist but none of our casks has any lees swilling about in it. If that was the case you could ask if the flavour was coming from that but there must be some wood maturation for success. Any wine in the cask would be strictly against the law and the rules of the Scotch Whisky Association as it would potentially be considered as an additive.
From a scotch blog:
Whisky Magazine Issue 52 on 30/11/2005:
Whisky Magazine Issue 34 on 5/10/2003 (article mostly about Macallan):
When no longer appropriate for ageing malt, certain second fill Macallan casks are utilised as marrying vessels (being essentially inert with a minimal wood extractive influence).
A recharred bourbon cask, for example, could contribute less vanilla, coconut and sweetness, though a similar oakeyness and colour compared to a first fill.
Rejuvenated casks may hold up to two further fillings, after which there is the option of additional rejuvenation, with two rejuvenation treatments usually the limit.
This also raises the issue of what role recharred casks can play in the overall inventory. As the practise of recharring is only about 15 years old, research into the influence of recharred casks is still on-going, with the current focus being to age whisky for blends.
Whether rejuvenated casks play a more prominent role remains to be seen.November 10, 2009 7:35 pm at 7:35 pm #675747
I hear your point, and I know that many gedoilim have rendered opinions of the permissability of scotch, but I cannot help wondering if this is not similar to the famous “R’ Moshe paskened its ok to celebrate thanksgiving day” claim. I Read the t’shuva and the conclusion I came to is, while he does not say its assur, to suggest that he felt it was something to be instituted? No, absolutly not.
To say that the poskim that rule in favor of scotch would be proud to see $1800 prize packages of booze, and the “redden in lerenen” that is going on in this post as Toras Moshe? Hmm.November 10, 2009 9:20 pm at 9:20 pm #675748cholentkugelkishkeMember
BP Totty – why isn’t it Toras Moshe? There are many halachos involved, and it’s interesting to read the information that people have found out.
If you have an issue with a prize package in a Chinese Auction – you can contact that Mossad & let them know.November 10, 2009 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm #675749
Q: It must be difficult producing a consistent product.
A: There are seven hundred components in Scotch whisky. Some have a low flavour threshold but the interplay amongst those that have flavour is tremendous. Producing a consistent single malt is very difficult.
End of excerpt.
A) you can assume no sherry casks at all were used,
C) even if they were used you can assume it is batul
Sherry caskNovember 12, 2009 6:48 pm at 6:48 pm #675750
The moisad that is offering the package is responding to what the oilam wants. (Kind of the way today’s music only offers what the oilam will buy.) The problem is not them; its us.
And it makes no differnce if the gedoile ha’dor come out against $100-200 bottles of scotch or not; its hashkoficly in the same boat (no pun intended) as a glatt kosher cruise to the Bahamas for $5,000 pp; it may have the best hechsher, and daily minyonim, but to say this is making gedolie ha’dor proud of us? I don’t think so.
And if you must know, I’m only going to put in for the cheaper package (two reasons: 1) the odds are better, as the $1800 deal will be THE biggest draw and 2) The cheaper pkg is the brands that I know, and can afford to replace, once I finish the last of the lot.
Don’t get me wrong; I like gashmius as much as the next guy (or Mrs). But to wrap it in the guise of torahdikeh living? I stopped kidding myself once I became a totty (’cause otherwise my kids would nail me)November 12, 2009 9:42 pm at 9:42 pm #675751YW Moderator-42Moderator
Received in an email:
from the CRC website
Due to rapid changes in the scotch industry, and the cRc goal of relaying the most accurate kashrus information possible, the cRc is temporarily not listing any particular brand of scotch as being acceptable or not recommended. If you wish, in the mean time, you may determine the kosher status of a particular scotch by checking the label and packaging of each particular brand, type and vintage and ascertain that it was not produced using any possible questionable methods. Some questionable methods include scotch aged in wine casks such as sherry or port, dual casks, French casks or European casks. We hope to have this rectified soon and once again have an expansive scotch list available on our website.November 16, 2009 9:36 pm at 9:36 pm #675752November 16, 2009 9:54 pm at 9:54 pm #675753gavra_at_workParticipant
I would like to piggyback on your research. What single-malt scotches have you found to have minimal or no sherry influence?November 17, 2009 2:52 am at 2:52 am #675754
I just read through the relevant Igros Moshes, yd 1 62 (63 and 64 are refutations of the machmirim)
and yd 3 19. He is talking about OTS wine which is blended into
whiskeys to lower the tarrifs. he quotes YD 134:5 where the
mechaber says that 6 parts water to 1 part wine is enough to be
mevatel the wine. in yd 3:19 Rav Moshe zt”l explains this
that even though there’s still a taste, it loses its status
of wine. Wine is different from other liquids. Rav Moshe zt”l
quotes the Shach by yd 134 that by other liquids we need
bittul beshishim. He goes on to refute the Shach with a
Tashbeitz that by sharp liquids you need even less than 6
parts. he still says a baal nefesh should be machmir.
By sherry casks, we are machmir if we know they exist.
But midin, it’s extremely difficult to claim that in a
huge barrel the wood is more than one in six.November 17, 2009 5:00 am at 5:00 am #675755
The first post was typed on a mobile device in a side beis midrash, thus the weird formatting.
In general, we are machmir if we know there is a claim of sherry casks, even though according to Rav Moshe ZT”L it would be acceptable, just like we are machmir today not to use products where there is bittul beshishim. However, sherry casking is a shevach. Why should we assume they use them if they’re not on the label? No matter what they say in a private letter, they don’t get busted for false advertising unless it’s on the label. So if they don’t advertise it, it’s probably not true. Furthermore, even according to Sherry Cask’s info, they only use 20% sherry casks. They also reuse casks. Furthermore, Star K’s website says they clean out the casks. That has to reduce the amount absorbed into the alleged sherry casks.
1. Shema ein kan issur klal- if they don’t advertise it, who says they’re using it?
2. If they are using it, who says they’re first-run casks?
3. even if they are using first-run casks, they are cleaned out beforehand.
4. Even if they weren’t cleaned out, beforehand, they don’t use 100% sherry casks, if they are in fact using sherry casks.
5. Even if they were using 100% sherry casks which were uncleaned, they would still be battul besheish according to Rav Moshe ZT”L. As it is, they’re most probably battul beshishim according to the machmirim, if they are, in fact, using sherry casks. A typical barrel holds 50 gallons. There is at least 8 times as much liquid as there is to wood (maybe more- I’m having a rough time figuring out how to Google this). So even if the cask was dirty (which it is NOT), all you need is 8 regular casks to one theoretical uncleaned sherry cask to have bittul beshishim according to the machmirim who follow the Shach.November 17, 2009 5:24 pm at 5:24 pm #675756November 17, 2009 5:42 pm at 5:42 pm #675757rabbiofberlinParticipant
sherry cask- i still owe you an answer on our correspondence in a differetn medium…too much work…but thank you for all your work…. and thanks to jothar too….I’ll try to look over the sources mentioned….after all the above discussions, maybe I’ll go back to the early favorites like Red lable, ballanatine’s , white label…etc..are they ok?November 17, 2009 6:35 pm at 6:35 pm #675758gavra_at_workParticipant
Nothing specific Sherry, thanks for the “Maare Makom”. I will take a look.November 17, 2009 6:46 pm at 6:46 pm #675759November 17, 2009 7:16 pm at 7:16 pm #675760altermirrerParticipant
is cointreau kosher? one answer please i can’t figure out why european machshirim are matir and americans are stricterNovember 17, 2009 8:17 pm at 8:17 pm #675761
Sherry, please email it to mod-42 and he’ll email it to me.November 17, 2009 8:40 pm at 8:40 pm #675762
rabbiofberlin, nice to hear from you again. Please define “ok”. 🙂November 17, 2009 9:12 pm at 9:12 pm #675763rabbiofberlinParticipant
well, in all the postings till now, I have not seen mentioned any of the classic whiskys- johhny walker red (and black), Dewars white label, ballantine’s, even Grants. is it just an ommission or are they- according to you- also in the mix of the problematic opnes?November 17, 2009 9:31 pm at 9:31 pm #675764
Cleaning the casks reduces the amount of absorption in the cask.
Rav Moshe’s use of the pri megadim’s pesicha shows us that “avida letaama” is not the same thing as “kiyuha”- when it’s a very weak taste it doesn’t count as a taste. It sounds like from his teshuva that wine is different from other Chana”n in that once the wine is diluted past 1:6, it IS NO LONGER WINE. So even if the sherry cask is less than 1 in six, once they blend it with other non-sherry cask scotch casks it would no longer be wine, at least lefi Rav Moshe ZT”L. However, according to the bittul beshishim crowd (who say we follow the shach over the Tashbeitz it would seem that your research is me’orer a shaila. I printed it out and will show it to my rav. I also emailed it to a relative who is a mashgiach for a kashrus agency. I asked my rav on Shabbos and he was dismissive of anything changing in the world of scotch. Ein ledayan ela ma she’einav ro’os, so I will show him your magnum opus, and until then, Yishtu ashirim veyishkaru.November 17, 2009 9:48 pm at 9:48 pm #675765November 17, 2009 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm #675766November 17, 2009 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm #675767
Jothar, one followup: Can you provide any halachic sources as to what is halachically gained regarding your comment “Cleaning the casks reduces the amount of absorption in the cask”? Remember, we’re talking about a cask that has already aged sherry for a long time, not a brand new cask.November 18, 2009 2:20 am at 2:20 am #675768
Sherry, it’s a possible snif lehatir.( The caveat being that I’m a baalabos not a rabbi, and it’s been a while since my Yoreh deah farher.) The casks can’t absorb more sherry than their wood can hold. Once they clean it out, it reduces the amount of sherry in the wood. I’m not sure what the cleaning process is, but it’s clear they don’t use a davar hapogeim so we don’t have that one. Also, is it possible to dissect the wood and see how far the absorption penetrated? Sherry is a staining liquid, and wood would reflect it.
My rav is a “so saguru mipnei ish” type of rav. If the research holds up, he will have no problem telling me not to drink scotch. My relative in the kashrus agency is a similar type of individual. He’s not beholden to any special interests. He’s also a teetotaler and will not be affected by the truth however it comes out.November 18, 2009 5:25 am at 5:25 am #675770
Jothar, I have strong doubts about that line of reasoning as to what cleaning may accomplish, but by all means ask if you want to. Please find sources if you can for the cleaning you claim they do (incl. how and when); I’ve already commented on this and included sources.
Sure it’s possible to dissect the wood (more accurately, break open a stave). There is literature on the so-called penetration line of a wine cask, and I have seen it (the literature, that is). There are a lot of variables such as the type of wood (European is more porous than American), the size of the cask, etc., but for a standard Bordeaux cask, it is around 3-7 mm after several years of use; for other casks aging contents for many years, it is perhaps halfway through the thickness. The question is if one can rely on such visual evidence halachically for a shiur of bitul. My understanding (not my own) is it would be a tremendous chiddush since we don’t do so elsewhere, so the burden would be on the maikal. And it may be appropriate to ask if this is the kind of kulah a Kashrus organization should be relying on to permit scotch to the masses.November 18, 2009 4:43 pm at 4:43 pm #675771
Sherry, clearly anything regarding bittul is a kulah the kashrus agencies usually don’t like to accept anymore. However, for Scotch it’s different- maybe because there are no good alternatives. I did read through the Minvchas Yitzchok (2, 27, page 57), and while he does mention many of the points you raised (avidi letaamah, bittul lechatchila), at he end he is “metzadeid lehakel”, which surprised me. He is known to be machmir as per the mesorah of the Edah Chareidis. He was not giving a definite psak though. Perhaps the kashrus agencies are relying on the fact that the penetration is halfway combined with the fact that really strong liquids like whiskey, the bittul is less (Rav Moshe mentioned this one in his teshuva), plus the fact that cleaning DOES remove some of the absorption. Finally, as the Minchas Yitzchok himself said, you aren’t tasting the sherry cask. You are tasting a smoothness caused by the sherry cask and other processes. The kid in the shul who can allegedly detect a sherried whiskey (and if he is that much of an expert on scotch, then kashrus is the least of his problems)is not tasting sherry. There are kosher sherries on the market. Taste them, and then taste the scotch, and tell me if you can detect any resemblance of it in the scotch. (The Taz says we can be somech on te’imas yisroel if it’s kosher, and the kashrus agencies say it is).
I showed your papers to my rav,who quickly looked at it and said
“He’s arguing on the biggest experts!” I do trust my rav, who’s a straight shooter, so for me the question is closed. However, I like a good controversy, Send in your work to Kashrus Magazine, the kashrus agency watchdog magazine, or to Rabbi Yudel Shain, who likes to stir the pot in the kashrus field. They will create a ra’ash which will result in the issue being addressed by all kashrus agencies.November 18, 2009 6:27 pm at 6:27 pm #675772
You and your cleaning. 🙂 Until proven otherwise, I am assuming in general no cleaning or at least no practical halachic effect due to cleaning.November 18, 2009 8:19 pm at 8:19 pm #675773
I remember that my rav was against those who investigated and found out that the supermarket distributors were Jewish. Since chometz she’avar alav hapesach is a derabanan, we are not mechuyav to investigate further. Similarly, stam yaynam is not chazer treif. it’s a very real isser, but it’s derabanan, and we’re not mechuyav to be machzik rei’esah where none exist. Furthermore, apparently they feel they investigated the matter enough to feel comfortable with their psak. Finally, Even where this is vadai sherry casks they seem to feel that it would be muttar nevertheless. Rav Dovid Feinstein Shlit”a allows all scotches, even where the label says sherry casks. My rav does not, but will accept one where it’s not on the label. What does your personal rav say?November 18, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm #675774
Comfortable? Hardly. Maikal? Definitely.
The (Chasidish) Rav of my shul drinks whiskeys only with a hechsher.November 18, 2009 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm #675775
But if you did your research and feel so strongly, as the “kreina de’igarta” it’s your achrayus to see this through. Somebody has to be meshiuga ledavar echad to get something done.November 25, 2009 3:47 pm at 3:47 pm #675776
BOWMORE Legend: The cheapest in their line; says nothing on the label. But it happens to be aged in 70% bourbon casks, 30% sherry casks:
(Other online sources give the same split. The author in the link above wrote a book on Islay whiskies of which Bowmore is one. Sources claim the percentage of sherry casks in the vatting goes up as you go up the Bowmore line.)
For example, check out the 15, where the exact percentage split is given, even though the label say nothing:
GLENFARCLAS: Despite their expressions being among the most heavily sherried in the industry (as a little research will show), many of them say nothing at all on the label. You can read the tasting notes on their website,
where they all talk about sherry. Glenfarclas 12 won a Best Sherried Whisky of the Year award,
yet says nothing on the label.
GLENGOYNE: Known to be heavily sherried. At least the 10 and I believe the 12 say nothing on the label. Its web site says,
HIGHLAND PARK: Despite HP being very heavily sherried, e.g.,
JAMESON (no age statement) Irish Whiskey: combo of bourbon and sherry casks, exact sherry cask percentage a closely guarded secret.
JOHNNIE WALKER Black Label: says nothing on the label, but Andrew Jefford, well known wine and whisky critic mentioned above, had this to say in the Financial Times:
This complex, 12-year-old blend of 40 or so grains and malts (including Speyside greats Cardhu and Cragganmore) is regarded as a benchmark for the entire Scotch world. Sherry casks are an important element of the blend, according to Jim Beveridge [fitting name, that; according to the article he is Master Blender at JW]. “A classic Walker blend is a balance of the smoky West Coast style with lighter Speyside. That can leave a gap in the middle, and for Black Label we try to fill it with Highland malts matured in sherry casks.”
I could go on with this list, but time is short and my fingers are tired.November 25, 2009 6:33 pm at 6:33 pm #675777aryeh3Participant
I found this concerning Laphroaig Scotch from their website:
It was not till the 30’s that the perfect barrel was found for Laphroaig. It was found to be ‘first fill’ bourbon, American oak casks. First fill only because this softens the wood to exactly the right depth, and bourbon because it’s a ‘sister Whisky’ and it does not impart a new flavour to Laphroaig. Subsequently 3 independent scientific papers from around the world have confirmed our choice. We already knew it 60 years ago – but that’s typical of Laphroaig.
However, we like to create a range of Laphroaig expressions to suit all tastes. As such, we use Sherry casks in our 25 and 27 year old bottlings. But perhaps our most famous barrels are the ‘Quarter Casks’.
These small, 19th Century style casks impart an intense flavour and are extensively used in our Quarter Cask expression.
Which leads me to believe that if you buy the 10 Year (what I have) you can avoid the sherry cask.November 25, 2009 7:48 pm at 7:48 pm #675778
There are differing opinions about Laphroaig 10. Some consider it the only real scotch and love the peat, while others call it motor oil. Whenever I buy a bottle, my opinion starts out closer to the first clause of the previous sentence, but by the time I get down near the end of the bottle, my opinion shifts closer to the second clause. Regardless, no serious scotch drinker would be content limiting himself to just one dram. Variety is the spice of life.February 12, 2010 6:04 am at 6:04 am #675779jlondonParticipant
If possible, please email me your article that had been posted at http://midrashicmusings.blogspot.com/2009/10/is-scotch-kosher.html –It is NO LONGER available there. I am eager to read your research. Based on what has been expressed online here, I think I can help answer some of your concerns — I too have researched this topic at some length; I have visited dozens of Scotch whisky distilleries and have spoken at great length with dozens of folks in the production-side of the industry, and more than I care to remember in the marketing-side too.
EDITED. Sorry, we don’t allow personal info in the CR.February 12, 2010 2:56 pm at 2:56 pm #675780
Jlondon, can you please share your findings with the Coffee Room? I’m eager to read them. Thanx.February 24, 2010 5:32 pm at 5:32 pm #675782
My article has been taken down while I reevaluate my next step. In the meantime, I still sense there are some myths regarding scotch so ingrained in much of the frum drinking populace that they need to be dispelled. Let me start with
Regarding the above explanations of Shulchan Aruch, there is nothing new here; Kashrus organizations know all this. Now you do too.February 26, 2010 2:55 pm at 2:55 pm #675783
And kashrus organizations haven’t assured scotch yet.February 26, 2010 8:41 pm at 8:41 pm #675784
A freilichen (and Kosher) Purim. Yours truly,
sherry caskMarch 2, 2010 5:34 pm at 5:34 pm #675786
[To this point, no mention of scorching.]
1) it is not true that every or even most casks are scorched before use,
2) scorching even when done probably does not constitute a kashering process, andMarch 2, 2010 8:29 pm at 8:29 pm #675787anuranParticipant
I already make wine. I’m getting a distilling license once the song-and-dance with the TTB is over. It takes at least two years of aging to make Bourbon or Rye. Would it be worth the time and money to make a kosher whiskey aged in kosher wine casks?February 20, 2018 6:16 pm at 6:16 pm #1473269akupermaParticipant
Technologies change. Hazakahs disappear. At one time, Jews routinely ate non-Jewish bread if there was a local hazakah they didn’t use animal fat or milk.
Today we have hecksherim for anything, including hard liquor. Why rely on a probably obsolete hazakah that a product is inherently kosher, when we can get the same product with certification from a proper kashrus agency.February 20, 2018 7:36 pm at 7:36 pm #1473295
” Why rely on a probably obsolete hazakah that a product is inherently kosher, when we can get the same product with certification from a proper kashrus agency.”
Because it’s not the same product. Unlike Kosher wines, Kosher whiskey is not yet, unfortunately, even close to the quality of the non-hechshered brands.February 20, 2018 9:37 pm at 9:37 pm #1473327DovidBTParticipant
It’s a slippery slope. Today drink an idolater’s scotch, tomorrow marry his daughter.February 20, 2018 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm #1473339
idolater’s scotch – is this Purim Torah? So soon? Drink enough of any intoxicating beverage and bad things can happen. Chas v’shalom.February 20, 2018 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm #1473359DovidBTParticipant
idolater’s scotch – is this Purim Torah?
No. After a month of Daf Yomi-ing Avodah Zarah, I see idolaters everywhere.February 20, 2018 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm #1473377
“I see idolaters everywhere”
Uhhhh. Not sure what to say. Maybe read the Chazal that all avodah Zoran was uprooted and no longer exists?February 21, 2018 4:11 pm at 4:11 pm #1473869HorrifiedParticipant
I Have been to Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, and most of the famous distilleries in Scotland and can confirm that All casks are burned out with a blow torch b4 being filled with whisky.
and like someone mentioned above.
in order to get a consistent taste, all whiskys companies will mix many different casks into one large ‘pot’ and master blender will taste and add different barrels until taste is consistent.
this obviously excludes single cask bottles, however these are mainly collectors items.February 21, 2018 7:29 pm at 7:29 pm #1473981TeNaK TalkParticipant
I know a certain shul in particular that bribes people in their shul with Salami and Single Malt Scotch after davening every Kabbalat Shabbat just so the shul can get a minyan for every Kabbalat Shabbat.
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