Does Your Whiskey Have Food Coloring in It?

Does Your Whiskey Have Food Coloring in It?

Does Your Whiskey Have Food Coloring in It?

Beer & Wine
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

Among the most frequently, and controversially whisky debates is that of, dyed: Scotch. Turns out certain whiskies can be colored for there optical color.Philadelphia, PAOne of the most frequent and controversial whiskey debates is dyed Scotch. Individual whiskeys can be colored to match their optical color.


Surprising to you. Considering the love and strictness that goes into Scotch production, it might end with a dash of food coloring. But it’s real. According to the Scotch Whisky Act of 2009, which determines and updates standards for Scotch composition, Scotch was and remained a spirit “to which no substance has been added except (i) water; (ii) simple caramel coloring; or water and simple caramel coloring.” Scots are considerably severe about their whiskey regulations, and it seems like caramel is fair game for now.

But as always in real taste perception, opinions alternate. But what about American whiskeys? Again, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in the United States, certain whiskeys can customize up to 2.5% caramel coloring in the complete product (they even have an attractive, incredibly perplexing chart for referencing the process). The regulation gets somewhat flustered, though, with coloring allowed as a factor of “established trade usage” (basically determining the rules based on how a spirit’s typically been processed?). Fortunately, the TTB themselves actively clarified things, so to speak, telling whiskey makers, “You may not increase caramel or caramel coloring or flavor to Bourbon.” That indicates any bourbon, be it regular or “straight” (aged at least a minimum of two years), and gets its color from the barrel, nothing else.

This same regulation applies to rye, corn, and wheat whiskeys, but only if categorized as “straight whiskey.” Speaking of labels, in most countries (including the U.S.), Scotch whiskeys don’t have to state if they use caramel coloring (Germany demands it be on the label). Perhaps the essential debate, though, is whether caramel coloring impacts taster. So, while you may be capable of imparting if your rye includes caramel coloring since it’s not labeled “straight rye,” your Scotch is anyone’s suspect.

A recent taste experiment by ten staffers at Master of Malt seems to suggest that it doesn’t. And they’re getting a bit hot, with some seriously tuned-in consumers expressing a grievance to discontinue coloring and chill-filtration (that’s another story). But the occasional—or recently interested—Scotch drinker might have no idea his Single Malt is russet brown and not, say, light hay-colored. We like to pay more for things with a beautiful dark brown caramel tan.

Share This Article on Social Media



Latest Posts

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.

Sponsered Ads

Follow PhillyBite:

Follow Our Socials Below