May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Kosher Single Malts: Ending the Debate

Distinguishing kosher wines from non-kosher wines is easy. It’s all there on the label where you will find the recognizable kosher certification logo. This is not the case when it comes to single malts. For many of us, the rule of thumb was that single malts that were not claimed to be aged in sherry casks are kosher. Some of us did not even bother asking; they simply bought what was on the shelf. However, what is the current p’sak halacha regarding single malts?

Rabbi Akiva Padwa, of the KLBD, is ending the debate.

Rabbi, are sherried whiskies kosher?

Rabbi Padwa: For a long time, the consensus was that Scotch whisky was generally considered kosher.

What simplified the kosher aspect of Scotch whisky was that by law it is prohibited to blend in any other beverage or add any flavor enhancer.

However, now that there are more and more kosher-certified quality single malts available, many feel that there is no need to be lenient anymore.

So whisky is a pure beverage—where do we start getting into trouble?

Rabbi Padwa: To be classed as Scotch whisky, the liquor must age at least three years and a day in oak barrels, and it is permitted to age the single malts in oak casks that have previously stored other alcoholic beverages. Nowadays most whiskies are initially aged in ex-bourbon whiskey and other whiskey casks and then often transferred into a second set of barrels that have often previously held red wines, such as sherry, port, madeira etc. This process, called “special finish” or “wine finishes,” is used to develop a unique flavor profile and impart additional character to the whisky. This “wine finish” process has become popular only in recent years.

Therefore, historically, before the introduction of the “wine finish,” it was not clear how the whiskey was aged and the poskim relied on elements of safek to be lenient, allowing the consumption of all whiskies, including single malts.

But now, with the “wine finished” whiskies there is no doubt that the whisky was aged in non-kosher wine barrels, so practically all the mitigating elements of safek are gone. With such whiskies it is much more difficult to find reasons to be meikel and lenient.

And how can we overcome this issue and enjoy truly special whiskies?

Rabbi Padwa: The exciting news is that it is no longer necessary to be meikel! You can now purchase truly quality single malt Scotch whiskies with special wine finish and with a quality hechsher!

In that respect, the new DS Tayman brand is a true revolution, producing a range of kosher single malts finished in selected Israeli wine barrels under comprehensive hashgacha!

Introducing DS Tayman Whisky

The brainchild of two high-end whisky brokers in the UK, who also happen to be two nice Yiddish blokes, DS Tayman is sourcing single malts from established brand-name distilleries (the first two are Linkwood and Caol Ila), aged in kosher, Israeli wine barrels (Galil and Flam). This is the first offering of its kind. They feature eye-popping packaging and are kosher certified by OU and KLBD with the additional kosher stamp of Rabbi Akiva Osher Padwa.

Each cask has been hand selected based on its unique appearance, aroma and flavor. The casks have then been individually paired with kosher wine barrels to complement the liquor with a unique wine finish, giving each dram its own special character.

As DS Tayman bottle only “single-cask” malt whiskies, each limited-edition expression has a distinctive taste profile that cannot be recreated.

And this is just the beginning! They have some very special barrels in their arsenal that will be released gradually over the next few years. Kosher 30-Year Macallan anyone?

Rabbi Akiva Osher Padwa, director of MKL and director of certification at KLBD, is a world-renowned expert on kosher whisky, who has written numerous articles and lectured extensively about whisky at kashrut conferences and other venues all over the world.

Ami and Larissa Nahari are the co-founders of The River Wine, producers of Twin Suns, Contessa Annalisa and Aura Di Valerie Amarone wines. The River Wine also produces Ethan’s Reserve bourbons, coming out this October, and Cascada Tequila (January 2021). The River distributes Shirah, Tishbi, Beit El, Bravdo, Moses and more. They are also the proud importers and distributors of DS Tayman single malts.

By Ami and Larissa Nahari

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