Login

×

Everything You Need To Know About Chill-Filtration

Many Whiskies released today proudly declare that they are “Non-Chill Filtered”, but what exactly does that mean, and more importantly, what does it do to taste?
 

What actually is chill-filtration?

Chill-filtration is the process of removing esters and fatty acids from Whisky. This is done as those elements cause haze when the liquid is stored at low temperatures, and they can also produce sediment.

 

A post shared by Bruichladdich Distillery (@bruichladdich) on


To carry out chill-filtration, Whisky is reduced to around 0°C and strained through a very fine filter.

This collects esters, which create hazing in Whisky with an ABV below 46%. They are soluble in alcohol, but insoluble in water, so when the liquid is diluted, hazing can occur more easily.


How does chill-filtration affect the taste?

Temperature is an important part of chill-filtration and therefore it does have an effect on taste. Esters themselves carry certain flavour compounds as well so removing them well inevitably change the taste.

As we can learn from Bruichladdich Distillery's "Guide to chill-filtration", there are around 100 flavour compounds that contribute to taste, aroma and mouth feel. These compounds are removed by chill-filtration.

 

A post shared by Bruichladdich Distillery (@bruichladdich) on


An example of this is ethyl acetate, which effects the aroma of Whisky. It is created through the oxidisation of toacetaldehyde by ehtonol and becomes a fatty acid called acetic acid that in turn reacts to alcohol to become ethyl acetate.

It is also removed during chill-filtration, therefore having a direct effect on flavour.

 

A post shared by Eric (@thewhiskyguy87) on


What are the benefits of chill-filtration?

Essentially, chill-filtration is carried out so hazing does not occur and sediment does not build up, rather than having any benefit on taste.

It is for aesthetics rather than flavour, and as such, many distilleries have stopped carrying out the process, although most blended Scotch Whiskies are chill filtered for consistency in how they look around the world from batch to batch.

There are still some that argue that chill-filtration doesn’t affect flavour, but it certainly removes some of the complexity of the liquid.

 

A post shared by Brian Ward (@bri.ward) on


The question to ask yourself when considering the debate is do aesthetics trump taste?

Do you like your Whisky for the look or for the flavour? It’s up to the consumer to make the ultimate choice, but with major distilleries and brands such as Ardbeg, Compass Box and Bruichladdich all getting behind the non-chill-filtered movement, it might not be long until the more single malt brands are getting involved.






By Greg

Greg

Greg is a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. His mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about Whisky, Whiskey, Gin, Beer and fine dining through his website, GreatDrams.com, writing, brand building and whisky tastings.

 

×

Sorry, this bottle is available to Club Members only. To access this bottle and all other membership perks & benefits, please Join the Club.