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Best Kosher Wine or Scotch whiskey

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  • Cheesehead in Recovery Jun 21, 2006 11:34 AM
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I need to give a major Thanky you/ congratulations to someone who appreciates GOOD wine/booze.

My local wine guy recommended Yarden's Merlot....somehow, I bet that's not necesarily the best kosher wine on the market (Yarden is rarely excellent)

Please recommmend some amazing Red wines and kosher high end- high quality.... (good doesn't have to be expensive...)

Tasting is the best way to do this of course

Also, if their are any scotch drinkers out there, please make reccomendations.... This is for the real l'chaim shots to celebrate a milestone. His home is strictly kosher...so i want to get the right thing.

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  1. All varieties of domestic whiskeys are acceptable and most Scotch ones are too, as long as they are not sherry aged. Blended whiskeys can be tricky though.

    As for a good kosher red, there are a few good cabs out there, like Herzog and Golan Heights. They'll run you 25-35 bucks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DeisCane

      my favorite is from the Herzog Selection
      Valflore - a Semi Dry Red, from France
      10% alcohol, OU-Passover only $8 750ml
      Because it's lightly sweet high proof,
      you can drink it cold or room temp.
      it comes in an simple cork bottle.
      This is not an "impressive" wine,
      simply a very drinkable one, so it's
      best as a generous table beverage,
      not just for sampling.

    2. As with wine, tastes in single malts are also very varied.

      A few recommendations based on my tastes:
      1. Glenmorangie - their 18 year old in plain wood is excellent.
      2. Dalwhinnie
      3. Glen Ord
      4. Edradour

      As a comment to a previous poster, some scotches in the wine and sherry casks are kosher (they are served at some of the better kosher restaurants (e.g., Park East). There are some details in the issue of sherry and wine casks that are taken into account.

      Good luck and lechayim!

      10 Replies
      1. re: Ralph

        Yes, I worded it poorly. I meant to say that Whiskeys don't need a hechsher except those in wine/sherry casks.

        1. re: Ralph
          c
          Cheesehead in Recovery

          Todah L'Culam...
          But here's what i don't "get" about Kashrut and Liquor...Why are all of these such as Glenlivet,Chivas and others kosher? Whereas kosher wines are so carefully scruitinized, boiled, and under watchful eye of mashgiach, whiskey is not necessarily prepared under supervision? (I'm of the "semikosher" persuasion, but have studied enough halacha to respect the differances!)

          Maybe someone can explain it to me over a good shot of something! (in the greater boston area)

          1. re: Cheesehead in Recovery

            As I understand it is because wine is to be used for sacremental purposes - in wee early times of yore wine was cut with many things including blood so to insure that the wine was ure and kosher it had to be watched from the vinyard to the winery -

            1. re: Cheesehead in Recovery

              since you already appreciate the Kosher issues
              of wine, then the whiskey answer is simple.

              whiskey itself is NOT the problem regarding Kosher.
              the problem is most whiskeys, especially from Europe,
              are "finished" in barrels that were previously used
              to ferment grape products such as Port or Sherry
              which were not Kosher.

              even if a whiskey was not "finished" it could still
              be aged in barrels that were used for grape products,
              since many whiskey makers prefer the cheaper used
              barrels, even when whiskeys are "wood finished".

              many Kosher people will still drink whiskeys from
              Sherry barrels or casts because any trace of grape
              in the whiskey is so minuscule, while others will
              insist that the casts had never been used before.

              1. re: Cheesehead in Recovery

                I don't think many kosher wines are actually boiled anymore.

                1. re: DeisCane

                  sadly, yes, all "mevushal" wines are flash boiled killing all of the bacteria and wonderful tiny things that make a wine a "living" aging wonderful drink. If the bottle say "non-mevushal" or "not" mevushal, then the wine has not been boiled.

                  1. re: gotcholent

                    BS"D

                    What a load of horsepucky, gotcholent. Mevushal wines can be excellent if made properly, and they can age beautifully. I don't know about you, but I don't want "bacteria and wonderful tiny things that make a wine a "living" aging wonderful drink." I filtered them out in my nonmevushal wines, and everyone removes them one way or another. Even in "unfined, unfiltered" wines, they're removed by multiple rackings. If they get into the bottle, they can cause gas production and turbidity. The typical mevushal wine of today is flash pasteurized at the juice stage in terms of whites, and soon after pressing in terms of reds. The time/temperature profile of the bishul, while it can kill some organisms, is certainly not enough to kill sporulated organisms, nor many bacteria- typically 185 degrees F for just long enough to measure the temperature. That means DeisCane is correct in fact- not many kosher wines are actually boiled. And it means that while some microorganisms may indeed be compromised, life continues to go on. And it means that in any case, pure cultures are added to at least white wines after bishul, which reintroduces some of those "wonderful tiny things" you were discussing. And it means that maybe you should do your homework before perpetuating bubbamaisas which have no factual basis whatsoever, no matter who actually believes them, especially in a 2.5 year old thread.

                    1. re: ganeden

                      Sorry to say, but your response to this "bubbamaise" (who is this Bubba character?) is the real bubbe-meise. Meshuval wine is indeed stripped of most of the qualities that any serious wine drinker would say differentiates between a very good wine, and a fairly terrible one. I won't brag on my credentials too much here, but suffice to say I speak with authority on this subject. A nice 185 degree "bath" will kill anything. Actually the conservative tempurature used in the restaurant industry is just 140 degrees. Just using common sense though, if the process were "safer" in any significant way, shape, or form and didn't affect flavor, then all wineries would use this method wouldn't they?

                      1. re: randallhank

                        Randall....GanEden speak on authority as well (remember Gan Eden wines?), but I have to say as a more than novice but less than "expert" wine drinker, I find your comments elitist...a yummy wine is a yummy wine. Sometimes it's a $12 bottle sometimes it's a $72 bottle, and sometimes it's Moscato D'Asti.

                      2. re: ganeden

                        Ganeden, as far as bbq goes, your word is the Gospel to me, in the world of smoke you are my Rebbe. But I must join Randal in saying you're wrong on this one (a bit rude too). A perfectly apt example would be one of my once favorite kosher reds...a Rioja by Ramon Cordava, non-mevushal until the end of 2006 after which time they switched over to mevushal . For less the $10 a bottle it was better then the most kosher $50-100 bottles available at the time. Jill Santopierto, at that time a food stylist for the NY Times, and later editor for CHOW, introduced it to us at our first meal together years ago, not knowing (or caring) that it was kosher. If you look at the 2007 label the "non" has actually been blacked off of each of the bottles they produced that year. When I heard they switched I was so excited to hear as it meant I could use this fantastic (and inexpensive) wine for my kosher catering. But alas, after the flash pasteurization, it had just lost that love and feeling, still drinkable, still a good deal for the price, but totally lacking the "WOW". Those bottles are now enigmatic, and while somehow still winning awards, impossible to find even for those of us fairly well connected. I realize that Kashrut is Kashrut, I accept that, respect it, but don't fool yourself or others into thinking that the bishul process has no or little effect other then making it unfit for the Mizbeyach, but ok for our bellies.

              2. chivas regal, Johnny Walker black are also good scotchs

                1 Reply
                1. re: berel

                  Please tell me you're kidding. There are good blended whiskies out there but those are not two of them.

                  If you're going the blended route, go with Compass Box Hedonism. It's spectacular.

                2. Glenmorangie, Glenrothies and Highland Park are all excellent single malt scotches -

                  1. My favorite scotch is Lagavulin. It has a stong flavor of peat (ie, smoke), so not everyone loves it, but I do. Bowmore 15 yr is also excellent. You couldn't go wrong with Glenlivet 18 - no particularly strong, unique flavor, so everyone likes it.

                    I'm not sure you should buy Glenmorangie. First, I don't like it that much (personal taste). Also, I think they age in sherry casks which many people are okay with, but some are not (kashrus-wise).

                    1. I also wanted to add for kosher wine, one of the best I've had (and not too expensive, relatively) is the Orna Chillag 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon. I highly recommend.

                      1. What's your price ceiling for wine? Because if you really want to high end, your best bet is Ch. Smith-Haut Lafitte '00.

                        The Ch. Leoville-Poyferre is also quite wonderful.

                        Significantly cheaper are the Herzog Cabs - Alexander Valley or Chalk Hill.

                        Domaine du Castel (Israel) is impressive as is their white "C" du Castel.

                        1. I'm not about to claim to know anything worthwhile to contribute with regard to being or keeping kosher. But whiskey (and whisky) is something about which I have some knowledge. If I were looking to impress, especially impress a knowledgeable scotch drinker, I would be buying him a bottle of cask strength. I'd probably pick something like a Scott's Selection Linlithgow, which is a cask strength from a now defunct lowland distillery. Caskstrengths vary in alcohol content from about 115 proof to almost 170 proof. Stick to the weaker stuff, as it is much more drinkable. Yes, at 120 proof (or more) it can still have lots of flavor. At 165 proof or so, it's tough to swallow and keep down.

                          Find a cask strength that's kosher.

                          1. More a question than an answer. I received as a present a Barkan Reserved Cabernet 1991 Galil. Any comments on this wine?
                            I personally like the Rioja Ramon Cardova Crianza. About $18. Reasonably good for Paella

                            1. Okay, now I've read through this and I think I need an education. I truly love single malt scotch and frankly have never thought before about whether or not it's kosher... we are not "glatt" in my house. I'm a fan of Macallan, personally. I usually drink the 12 or 15 (budget) but the older ones are really amazing. Here is my question: If cask aging deems the scotch unkosher, which ones are ok? If it's Scottish, where they really don't make wine, am I good to go? I never quite understood this and it's been an issue when I've cooked for more kosher relatives and have wanted to use Scotch in a recipe. Please educate me further! Thanks

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: doc_k55

                                According to ou looks like as long as it is not aged in a sherry cask - http://oukosher.org/index.php/learn/a...

                                1. re: weinstein5

                                  Only if you believe the hype that whisky tastes different (and better) if aged in sherry casks rather than bourbon casks. I find that hard to believe. The flavour comes from the wood, not from what it contained years ago. The reason scotch was traditionally aged in sherry casks was that they were cheap, because the sherry merchants had no other use for them.

                                  1. re: zsero

                                    Scotch is definitely different depending on the casks you use (would never say better, as that is a preference). You only have to look at the difference in the color. I also agree that it is the sherry absorbed wood that gives the flavor, no one is physically adding sherry to the scotch. I am strictly kosher and will drink any kind of scotch, irrespective of cask.
                                    If the organizations forbidding sherry casks knew what they were talking about, they would forbid all blended scotches since you don't even know what casks they are using. In addition, McCallan is one of the main ones they directly forbid as it's the only one they really know about, however, there are so many others that they allow, which what makes this inconsistent.

                                    1. re: jaickyt

                                      I can not agree with you more - one of my favorites is Glen Morangie - and there is plenty of difference between the different casks that are used - my favorite is in the Suaterne cask -

                                      1. re: weinstein5

                                        It was interesting and useful information, but probably won't change my Scotch preferences... there is a bottle of Macallan in the cabinet now! I did, however, find a useful link for anyone who is interested...

                                        http://www.crcweb.org/kosher/consumer...

                                    2. re: zsero

                                      BS"D

                                      To be more specific, Scotch whisky expressly calls for used cooperage because of the neutrality of the used cooperage. If thye wanted something tasting of wood, they would specify new cooperage, like Bourbon, which specifically requires new American white oak cooperage charred on its interior. The fact that Bourbon cooperage cannot be reused for Bourbon accounts for its low price and availability for aging Scotch. Sherry is aged in a Solera system, whereby cooperage is stacked layer upon layer, and the lowest layer (the oldest layer) is partially emptied for bottling, and wine from the layer immediately above it is added to top off the wine, and sequesntially then layer by layer, allowing different vintages of wine to be averaged out to yield a very uniform bottled product. Eventually, some of these very neutral barrels need replacement. These are also quite inexpensive and very neutral, and so are purchased to age Scotch. While Port is not solera aged and could be aged in neutral cooperage, each year there is pleny of used cooperage for sale, and these get purchased by Scotch distilleries. The cooperage is definitely cleaned with plenty of water, and quite possibly soda ash as well. By the time it sees Scotch, it is neutral and halachically free of taste- unless it is specifically this taste which is the most important reason for using the cooperage. My contention is that the reason for using this cooperage is that it's cheap and neutral, and that there are various marketing advantages to touting the fact that it is aged in Sherry or Port barrels rather than Bourbon barrels, but that in reality, the differences in taste of these barrels that can be attributed to what they were filled with prior to Scotch is very small. Far greater are the differences attributed to the interior treatment of the barrel (charred vs. uncharred) and the differences attributable to geometry (Sherry cooperage is 350L and greater, most wine barrels are 225-228 L (around 60 gal), and Bourbon cooperage is of a different species entirely and is around 50-52 gallons. The geometry can affect evaporation rates. And then there's stave thickness, which can affect evapration rates, as well as porosity of the oak (tightness of the grain).

                                      I don't believe it is the flavor of the original wine or spirit that determines, to any great extent, the flavor of the finished Scotch spirit. I therefore will drink any unblended Scotch. Blended Scotch, on the other hand, might purposefully have added to it "blending Sherry", a wine which is used to meld the flavors of different spirits (remember that blended Scotch whisky is not only a blend of differend "single" malts, but usually often contains some very neutral corn whiskies as well). It is my understanding that Rav Moshe, Zt"l, allowed blended whiskies even though he knew of the intentional addition of blending sherry. All the more so, I would think, clean neutral cooperage though it had contained wine. Therefore, I don't subscribe to the current fear about Sherry Wood and Port Wood aged Scotch.

                                2. So its 2 years after my initial post, and now im planning a bris & simchat bat.... and want to have key bottles in my house for l'chaim shots... (hopefully, I'll have a bit since its been WAY over 9 months since i've had a strong drink)

                                  Does anyone know if Jack Daniels is kosher?? Its a family tradition on one side of my family - and I'd like to have a bottle on the tables in honor of My grandmother.
                                  It may not be in the catagory of "Best" but its sentimental.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                    JD is almost universally regarded as kosher, as are most american whiskies (sour mash, bourbon and rye).

                                    1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                      Whiskey comes in several tiers at the macro level.
                                      1. Scotch Whiskey
                                      2, Irish Whiskey
                                      3. Canadian Whiskey
                                      4. Bourbon

                                      each is a distillate of a different grain.
                                      Jack Daniels is Bourbon. Probably ok with coke.

                                      Single Malt whiskey varies wildly in quality and price. The consensus of the crew at shul is that the 24 y.o. and up, we can't tell the difference. Now, maybe that's because we'd already sampled the 16, 18, and 20 :-)
                                      At the young end, some whiskey brands are a bit harsh at 10 and others are not bad.

                                      The biggest distillery brands are Glenfiddich (IIRC owned by Bass & C) and Glenmorangie. The former, in the 12 y.o., is a good starter in one's exploration of single malt.

                                      Also bear in mind that there are at least 2 basic variants of Scotch whiskey: highland and lowland. There is also Speyside, which is reasonable to consider as a type of lowland. The 2 Glens mentioned above are Highland. I prefer Speyside, I find Bowmore is nice in the 12 and 14 y.o.

                                      1. re: koshercyclist

                                        just as a side point Bourbon is Tennessee whiskey specifically made in Bourbon County.

                                        1. re: berel

                                          Not really - the name bourbon does come from Bourbon County Kentucky but bourbon can be made anywhere - Kentucky, Tennessee - the major requirement is that the major grain used is corn - more thjan 51% I believe - yes I like bourbon - and scotch, beer, wine - etc

                                          1. re: weinstein5

                                            I hate to correct the correction, but technically, a bourbon is only a bourbon if it is made in Kentucky, otherwise it is called a sour mash (Jack Daniels being the best known of them all). And while it pains me to post the following, it seems that due to the Jewish ownership of a huge number of Bourbon distilleries, and their failure to sell their Chametz for Passover, there is a gaining momentum to ban until further notice a long list bourbons & rye. I am a kosher cater working under the STAR-K, and there were a ton of American Whiskies that I had hoped to include in this year's Kosher Whisky Festival that are currently bannded. Check out this link for an explanation and full list of banned bourbons
                                            http://www.star-k.org/kyk2010-06_june...

                                    2. I second Binny's in Chicago - their selection is phenomenal -

                                      1. Look for wines from Cellar de Capçanes (Spain, Montsant region). For a long time they were only Kosher, though they have expanded to do more than just Kosher wines - so you have to read if what you're getting is Kosher or not. We visited the winery, the wine is very good. I believe they do NOT do meshuval wines, but am not certain.

                                        1. Hi! thank you for allowing me to participate in this forum that I've always liked to visit that addresses important and interesting topics, I would join efforts to make a contribution on the importance of the size of wine glasses, Having this in mind, Burgundy wine glasses should be not too big, not too small, this is because there are no established rules regarding this, there is nothing else but pure common sense, and of course, you don’t want your Burgundy wine glasses to be greatly huge, nor you want then to look pity, you want a glass of wine that looks in a proportional size that is not vulgar either. Wine appeal you want to be of a great visual aspect, and to have that, is what you should aim for when in the search for the correct Burgundy wine glasses.

                                          1. U like Glenlivet. Is it the "best"? I don't know - what is the "best" tasting food?

                                            1. You might want to check out http://www.yossiescorkboard.com/?page... for one critic's opinion on the best Kosher wines. The best wine I've ever had is Covenant Cabernet Sauvignon http://www.covenantwines.com/