See through whisky
There has been a fair bit of chatter in the malt world of late regarding transparency in Whisky. By which I mean an openness in production, not colourless see through whisky.
Is it time to court controversy? Upset the apple cart? Put the cat amongst the pigeons? Probably not. But there is some interesting stuff happening around the whisky world just now and my personal view is that it is refreshing.
You see, I’m a detail person. I like to know how each malt is made and how each distillery differs from one to another. Little things like clarity of wort, the type of yeast, washback material, cut points… that sort of thing. I also like the wee secrets that I get to hear on tours, teapot this, illicit that. It’s all good fun and there are plenty of folk that love that sort of thing.
But now it seems there is a movement towards much more transparency. Which I have come to assume means granting the consumer access to more data. I’m absolutely all for giving the consumer more information. For instance, knowing which farmer grew the barley, where it was malted, what PPM, when it was malted, mashed, distilled etc. Or knowing which operative did the mashing, ran the stills, filled the casks. From an analytical perspective, there could be some really interesting trends. Maybe we will see some correlation between terroir and flavour? Seasonal variance? Operative specific subtleties? Probably nothing meaningful for the day to day punter, but interesting nonetheless.
So what are we wanting to find out with the push to transparency? Do we hope to reveal if a brand uses caramel? Is it matured in the central belt and not as you might believe from marketing being influenced by the salty sea air? Can I really taste that beautiful flowing burn in my glass? It’s almost as if the push for transparency subtly suggests some form of skulduggery. Lest we forget Scotch Whisky has had a few “characters” in the past.
I get the sense it’s a bit of disruption and sabre rattling. Personally I like it, it keeps things fresh and stops stagnation even if I’m sceptical of its real benefit or aims. I’m happy enough to watch from afar and let the upstarts pick their fights with the big guys. We’ll just quietly continue doing what we do, making our whisky to the highest possible quality with our small and dedicated team.