Summary

Backed up with a statistically significant number of tasting, this study shows that the experienced single malt whisky consumer is unable to tell chill filtered from non chill filtered whiskies. There are slight differences between different types of whisky. However, the identification rate for all samples is 50.0% and shows how difficult it is for the consumers to taste the filtration method. For special subsets of the samples the identification rate is often even below 50%. This shows that in these cases the majority of participants even identify the filtration method incorrectly in terms of taste.

Table 11. Summary of the identification rates

Comparison of identification rates CF NCF Mean
All samples 45,0% 54,9% 50,0%
Original bottlings 46,7% 53,6% 50,2%
Independent bottlings 43,4% 56,2% 49,8%
Peated samples 40,1% 58,5% 49,4%
Unpeated samples 51,8% 52,3% 52,1%
Sherry and wine cask bottlings 47,2% 53,8% 50,4%
Non sherry and wine cask bottlings 42,9% 53,8% 49,4%

Legend to table 11

CFChill filtration
NCFNon chill filtration

In terms of taste, original bottlings were rated slightly better than independent bottlings. Contrary to the marketing claims, non chill filtered original bottlings were rated 0.2 scale points (5%) better than non chill filtered independent bottlings. The advertising point of the independent bottlers to have access to the better casks can hereby be considered invalid.

The participants were only able to identify chill filtration or non chill filtration with an accuracy of more than 50% for unpeated whiskies. The percentage was only 52.1% on average, but it still supports the thesis that especially the smoky flavours make it more difficult to identify chill filtration.

Table 12. Summary of the quality ratings

Comparison of quality means CF NCF
All samples 3,4 3,4
Original bottlings 3,4 3,5
Independent bottlings 3,4 3,3
Peated samples 3,5 3,5
Unpeated samples 3,3 3,3
Sherry and wine cask bottlings 3,6 3,6
Non sherry and wine cask bottlings 3,2 3,2
Peated sherry and wine cask bottlings 3,7 3,6

Legend to table 12

CFChill filtration
NCFNon chill filtration

As a brown spirit, whisky 'lives' through the flavours taken up from the cask. Therefore it is no surprise that whiskies matured in sherry or wine casks is rated 0.2 scale points (5%) better by the participants. All values that exceed the global average are printed in bold in table 12.

Additional smoke flavours in these sherry and wine cask whiskies lead to an even better quality rating, but only if these whiskies have been additionally chill filtered. Otherwise the quality stays at the same level.