(Courtesy of DS Tayman) It has not gone unnoticed that kosher food has gone through somewhat of a revolution over the last 20 years. Gone are the days when kosher food was synonymous with poor quality, little choice and your bubbie’s recipes.
In most major Jewish cities today, such as New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, Paris and London, there are now plenty of choices for those who require the highest standards of kashrut and wish to have a fine dining experience.
In addition to this, the kosher supermarkets are stocking far broader ranges of product and keep pushing the boundaries of what is available. An example is if one steps into the cheese section of a kosher supermarket, the array of European cheeses that one can now buy is vastly different from even five years ago.
One of the most noticeable changes has been wine. With the growing demand for kosher wine, high-quality winemakers from across the world are now doing kosher-only production runs. Many kosher liquor stores have sprung up over the last few years to cater to the growing demand. With all this development, the next sector readying itself for the kosher revolution is Scotch.
How many times has one been at a kiddish and the topic of sherry-cask whisky has come up? With so many rabbis not allowing it, anyone attending a shul, restaurant or simcha in America have for years not been able to sample the beautiful Scotch whiskies that have been matured in sherry, port or other wine casks.
About three years ago, a number of Scotch companies started investigating whether it would be possible to mature single-malt Scotch in kosher wine barrels while maintaining the quality of the product. After months of researching and numerous excursions to seek the right pairing of kosher wine barrels to distilleries, they are beginning to see the fruits of their labor with a handful of products. One of the brands leading the way is DS Tayman.
Founded by alcohol expert Danny Saltman and ex-hedge trader Saul Taylor, they fly all over the world, hand selecting and buying wine barrels from kosher wineries. They transport these barrels to Scotland, where they are filled with high-quality single-malt Scotch under rabbinic supervision of the OU, KLBD and MKL. The whisky is sampled every six to eight weeks and when their tasting panel is happy with the quality, the whisky is bottled and sold across the world. The whisky is bottled at 46% ABV, which brings out richer flavors. All of the whisky is from a single cask, so each label has the cask number, the number of bottles that came out of that cask and individual tasting notes prepared by the tasting panel. It is non-chill filtered and has no added flavoring or coloring. So far, the company has released 10- and 12-year-old products.
The brand’s first two releases were matured in used wine barrels from the Galil Mountain and Flam wineries in Israel. The concept has proved a great way for these wineries to gain exposure outside of their traditional clientele.
The modern, bright colors of the DS Tayman packaging with the distinctive red, blue and green boxes are now a staple in any kosher liquor store. The brand posts extensively on Instagram. Its content is modern, engaging and educational. They are constantly educating their consumers about Scotch and how it is made while bringing their products to a younger demographic.
The brand has also made waves in the regular Scotch world, having received four awards for quality in the World Whisky Awards. This is judged by a panel of experts with a blind taste. As a result, the company is now selling its product in non-kosher markets. As a spokesperson for the company confirmed, they are now selling in the USA, Israel, UK, China, Taiwan, Panama, Australia, Finland, France and Belgium.
With many fond memories of drinking Scotch with friends and family on Shabbat and chagim, the founders wanted to capture that social element by including it on the back of every bottle, with DS Tayman’s tagline: “To be shared with the people you love, value and appreciate the most.” This innovative brand has been extremely well received by the Jewish community as DS Tayman products have been increasingly appearing at shul kiddushim across America.
It seems that we are still near the beginning of the kosher revolution in Scotch. With the kosher consumer now demanding a higher quality of product, it is likely to be only a matter of time until higher-aged statement Scotches will be made available to those wishing to adhere to the highest standards of kashrut.
Could we one day have a Macallan 30-year-old matured in kosher sherry? Surely we are now only a few years away.