Monday, 10 November 2014

Chill filtration

The purpose of chill filtration (CF) is to avoid haze when adding water or ice to the whisky. Many people consider chill filtration to have a bad influence on the whisky. Others are indifferent to CF. It seems harder to find people who claim that CF has a positive effect. A couple of blind tests seem at first sight to support that CF has no effect on aroma, flavour or mouth feel.

Let us take a closer look at the two tests.

If we for a moment forget the limited test panel and number of samples of the test at,
it is striking that all three whisky experts agreed that none of the unfiltered (NCF) whiskies were better than the corresponding CFs. This is a clear indication that CF makes a difference. With an expectation that NCF is best, it is no surprise that the best whiskies were identified as NCF by the test panel. As a result, they were not able to identify the NCF samples.

It is also interesting that the novice with a good nose managed to pick all the NCF whiskies.
It seems that this person has focused on viscosity and oiliness. Does CF cause some unpleasant notes to disappear, while the difference in body is so subtle that most people are not able to detect the difference?

Here we are so close to a random result that I could be tempted to conclude that CF does not make a difference, or more probable that the testers did not know what to look for to identify a NCF. The test also states that no difference was detected in quality between the whiskies. That does not necessarily mean that the test panel did not experience a difference.

After reading the two reports, I am tempted to conclude that there is an experienced difference between the CF and NCF, but the test panel seems not to know what they are looking for to identify a NCF whisky. It does not seem to be a quality difference between the CF and the NCF. Some prefer CF, while others prefer NCF.

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