Most malt whiskies bottled by the distillery owners are a marriage of several different casks. These big cask vattings are then often chill-filtered and coloured with the addition of varying amounts of caramel before being bottled. Even whiskies that are not chill-filtered are normally bright-filtered. Chill-filtration - when the spirit is chilled to freezing point or below prior to bottling - is done for cosmetic reasons, as it removes any possibility of cloudiness. Unfortunately, it also removes many of the natural fats, oils and flavours in the whisky which in turn removes a great deal of the individual character of a whisky as the esters, or flavour congeners, in the spirit tend to gather around these fats. The more a whisky is chilled when filtering, therefore, the greater the proportion of fats and esters are removed. And caramel has its own flavour, which is added to that of the whisky. In fact, the majority of malt whiskies are treated in this way when bottled. Bright filtering also removes a large part of these fats and esters with losses of around two to three percent of the cask volume when bottling.
But although these whiskies are altered from the natural spirit, which came out of the cask, you will not be told this on the label. You may be told other things, but never this important information. Indeed, the whisky may even come in a coloured bottle so that you cannot see the colour of the whisky you are buying. (Imagine buying a bottle of fine wine in a coloured bottle!) Only if it is a law in your country will the information be added to the label that your expensive bottle of malt whisky has been altered by the addition of caramel colouring.
The loss when bottling our Blackadder single cask whiskies is normally less than one percent and less than half a percent in the case of Blackadder Raw Cask. Blackadder believes in bottling only whiskies that are completely natural - thus keeping alive the centuries old traditions by which they are first lovingly distilled and then carefully aged over the years they spend silently maturing in cask. Blackadder is Robin Tucek, co-author with John Lamond of The Malt Whisky File (now over 150,000 copies in print). All Blackadder whiskies are his personal selection.