Study on the Chill Filtration of Scotch Single Malt Whiskies
Comparative Assessment of a Blind Tasting
Doctor of Engineering Horst Lüning, 82042 Seeshaupt, Germany
Copyright © 2014, Horst@Whisky.com
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This study was financially supported by a German retail company.
In a blind tasting 111 experienced whisky connoisseurs from Germany tasted a total of 1,331 samples of high-quality Scotch single malt whiskies and evaluated them according to numerous parameters. The main goal of this study was to determine the influence of chill filtration on the perceived taste. For this purpose, half the volume of 24 different non chill filtered single malt whiskies was chill filtered with kieselguhr and cellulose filters at temperatures just above freezing under laboratory conditions. Each participant received 12 samples of 6 different whiskies, one unaltered, non chill filtered version and one chill filtered version of each whisky.
The study shows that even among experienced single malt whisky connoisseurs, only 45% identify chill filtration correctly. Respectively, non chill filtration is identified correctly by 55% of the participants. At 50.0%, the total identification rate is exactly at the statistical mean. Thus chill filtration cannot be identified by the consumer. Furthermore, non chill filtered samples received exactly the same quality rating as their chill filtered counterparts (3.4 on a 1-5 scale).
The differences between independent bottlings (IB) and original bottlings (OB) in terms of identification rates and quality ratings are very small. The independent bottlings received slightly lower quality ratings. Due to the limited amount of 24 different whiskies this result has only limited significance.
Whiskies matured in sherry or wine casks received better quality ratings, regardless of chill filtration. This result confirms the current trend towards maturation and finishing in ex-sherry and wine casks.