Kashrus Issues With Whiskey

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The following alert has been sent out on behalf of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO) – and can be found along with all the latest Kashrus alerts in the new YWN “Kashrus Korner” – located towards the bottom of the New YWN Homepage, and powered by the cRc.

The AKO Executive Committee has reason to believe that there are large liquor companies in the United States which may be owned in whole or part by Jews. We are concerned that such companies may not have arranged for the sale of their chametz (mechiras chametz) during Pesach. These companies primarily manufacture bourbon, cordials, and American whiskey, and also deal in a small amount of Scotch and vodka.

Chametz-containing liquors owned, produced and/or aged by Jewish-owned companies over Pesach are forbidden as chametz she’avar alav haPesach.

Since many liquor products are aged for many years before they are sold to the public, it cannot be assumed that these beverages are acceptable for kosher use even if they are purchased a long time before or after Pesach.
Accordingly, we recommend that Kashrus Agencies and consumers change their policies and only consume those alcoholic beverages which [are free of standard kosher concerns and] are known to (a) be produced by a non-Jewish company or a Jewish-owned company which arranged for the sale of their chametz, (b) not contain any chametz, including not having chametz secondary grains or malted barley (bourbon and cordials are examples of items that may have these forbidden items), and/or (c) were not aged over Pesach (e.g. vodka).

The following are some brands which we believe to be subject to the above concern:

1792 Ridgemont

51 Ice

99 Schnapps

A. Smith Bowman

Absinthe

Ancient Age

Antique Collection

Barton

Blantons

Bowman

Buffalo Trace

Canadian Host

Canadian Hunter

Canadian LTD

Canadian Supreme

Colonel Lee

Dr McGillicuddy’s

Eagle Rare

Elmer T Lee

Experimental Collection

Fireball

Fleishmann’s

Hancock’s Presidents Reserve

Herbsaint

Highland Mist

House of Stuart

Imperial

Inver House

James Foxe

Kentucky Gentleman

Kentucky Tavern

Lauder’s

McAfee’s Benchmark

Mix 51

Mr. Boston

Northern Light

Old Charter

Old Thompson

Old Van Winkle

Pappy Van Winkle

Peychaud’s

Regan’s

Rich & Rare

Rock Hill Farms

Royal Canadian

Sazerac Rye

Ten High

Terra Brazilis

Tom Moore

Tyrconnell

Van Winkle

Very Old Barton

Virginia Gentleman

W L Weller
 
Consumers who already own one of these liquors are encouraged to ask their personal Rabbi whether returning the bottles to the store is considered to be having hana’ah (benefit) from chametz she’avar alav haPesach.  Lastly, we note that this notification does not cover the serious question of the status of whisky (or other chametz) owned on Pesach by a Jewish distributor who does or does not arrange for the sale of his chametz; consumers are once again encouraged to discuss this question with their personal Rabbi.

For updated information or questions regarding this notification, please email AKO at [email protected].

(YWN Desk – NYC)




6 COMMENTS

  1. On the Star-K’s website they have an article on alcohol in Halacha that was written years ago (http://www.star-k.org/kashrus/kk-thirst-highspirits.htm#footnotes) which towards the end to quote directly

    “What about the whiskey manufacturers? After years of research, it is clear that the overwhelming majority of companies producing spirits are either large corporations that are publicly owned or are non-Jewish. There is a major American whiskey company that is Jewish owned that has been selling their chometz through the Orthodox Rav in Louisville, Kentucky for well over a decade. Moreover, the finished goods do not go directly to your neighborhood liquor store; they first go to large distributors that house great inventories of alcoholic beverages. In many large metropolitan areas, the owners of the liquor distribution companies are Jewish and do not sell their chometz. There is little control over what is distributed on Pesach. However, unless one knows for a fact that the liquor comes from a non-observant Jewish distributor that did not sell his chometz and owned the alcohol over Pesach, or if whiskey comes from the local Jewish liquor proprietor who did not sell his chometz and owned the liquor over Pesach, one need not be machmir. Since chometz she’avar alav haPesach is a rabbinic prohibition and we have a safek, a reasonable doubt, the halacha allows us to take a lenient position.”

    Does anybody have further information as to whether there was a change?

  2. I guess I miss the point. Why only care about US companies? European scotch producers don’t face similar problems? If a company is publicly traded and a Jew owns some shares does that make the product Jewish manufactured?

    Please explain

  3. it seems the hockers will never stop every hocker thinks only he discovered America, when the truth is this question is about as old as bourbon itself and its been said 500 times unequivocally that there is no problem. so if you have a need to hock do so at your own family’s expense and stop driving everyone else crazy

  4. @jackr: Drambuie is a liqueur, Johnny Walker is a scotch, and Jack Daniels is a Tennessee Whiskey (close to a bourbon, but not quite). The bourbons listed above vary greatly in taste and quality and some (such as Pappy Van Winkle) are of a much higher quality than the 3 spirits that you listed. Now, for some these drinks may all taste the same, yet for many people they are as different as Snapple and Mountain Dew. Therefore, this article is very pertinent to them.

  5. Naftali P – Yes, Star-K does say on their website “unless one knows for a fact that the liquor comes from a non-observant Jewish distributor that did not sell his chometz and owned the alcohol over Pesach, or if whiskey comes from the local Jewish liquor proprietor who did not sell his chometz and owned the liquor over Pesach, one need not be machmir.” However, the AKO (of with the Star-K is a member) states “we recommend that Kashrus Agencies and consumers change their policies and only consume those alcoholic beverages which…” meet these new criteria. Since the major Kashrus organizations were involved and agreed to this, it’s safe to assume that the Star-K will follow this and change their policies accordingly.