In modern times Whisky has seen the growth of an added process called ‘chill filtration’ or ‘cold chill filtered’.
This is the process of filtering whisky before bottling, so that it will not be cloudy if ‘ice’ is added during enjoying a tasty dram, sitting in a cold room or from natural oils and alcohol separating from too long a rest (although why would any tasty bottle rest too long between dram sessions!). This was thought to be off putting to consumers who are seeking the clarity of whisky in whichever manner you prefer to consume it. Some constantly give the explanation that this process was introduced because North Americans enjoy ice in their whisk(e)y. Although this is true in a lot of cases, why change a great thing?
The process is non-invasive to the liquid and one cannot truly taste a difference between a chill or not chill filtered whisky, however this is not entirely true. Now there is simply one way to prove this fact, and that is tasting the same expression in both versions, which is very hard to find.
I for one do think there is a difference! I had a tasting session with one identical expression in both versions. Although the flavour and aromas were similar, if not the same, there was something missing. I can add that it was the ‘waxiness’ of the non-chill filtered whisky. This allows for the whisky to remain longer on the palate and have an added liquid consistency that was lacking from the chill filtered version. Also what’s with ‘non-chilled filtered, how about ‘naturel’ or we did not touch a thing?
Now, is this a bad or good thing? That is a personal preference, much like adding ice to whisky is. There is no right or wrong.
Yet why mess with a great whisky! If it came out of the still and barrel that way just leave it alone to its grand beauty! I prefer the unchill filter and do not mind the louche effect of an ice cold whisky, as the waxiness which is caused by the natural oils in the whisky are spectacular.
Do your own test and let us know your thoughts, we think a whisky should remain naturel. From grain to still to casks to bottle!