SCOTLAND’S best known distilleries are having their whisky certified as kosher to break into the Jewish whisky drinking market.
The distilleries are bringing in rabbis to supervise whisky bottlings, allowing them to have malt certified as officially kosher – meaning that they conform to the regulations of Jewish dietary law.
While some whisky is naturally kosher, whisky that has matured in wine or sherry casks is not and is banned from followers of the religion.
Many of the Kosher bottlings are exported to the United States and to Israel, while some are sold to the Jewish community in the UK.
Distilleries now producing kosher-certified whisky include Glenmorangie, Ardbeg, Glenrothes, Bowmore, Auchentoshan and Tomintoul.
Hannah Fisher, senior brand member for the Bowmore and Glen Garioch distilleries said: “It’s a growing market, and we certainly have a Jewish community of whisky drinkers that ask for kosher products.
“We want to be able to give clear communication of what’s kosher and what’s not.
“We think it will grow as a market, not least because there are more specialist retailers out there who can sell these tailored products.”
Although the whisky process is itself kosher, most wine and sherry is not, meaning that for some Jews, whisky that has matured in a barrel that once contained wine or sherry no longer conforms to Jewish dietary law.
Duncan Baldwin, brand development director which produces a number of kosher-certified whiskies including the 14-year-old Tomintoul Kosher Portwood, said that it was a way of expanding the whiskey’s audience.
“Some of the Tomintoul range has classified as kosher and ratified, and we just think that by doing that we allow ourselves the opportunity to serve a wider audience than would have been otherwise.
“America is an important market and they serve a big Jewish community. Having kosher-certified bottlings allows those who strictly follow the Jewish faith the opportunity to try our whiskies.”
In Israel, whisky has become so popular that its first single malt whisky distillery is currently under construction.
The Milk and Honey Distillery which promises to produce a kosher “Speyside/Highland inspired malt,” will use waters from the Holy Land and is being created under the eye of Scottish master distiller Dr Jim Swan.
A Scotch Whisky Association spokeswoman said: “We welcome interest from Jewish consumers and many Scottish whisky brands are listed as meeting kashrut dietary rules.
“Individual companies will consider whether or not to pursue kosher certification.”
Kosher simply means fit and refers to foods that are fit to eat because they subscribe to the Kashrut, or Jewish Dietary Law.
Non-kosher foods include everything that has ingredients derived from non-kosher animals or from kosher animals that were not slaughtered in the ritually proper manner.
A mixture of meat and milk, wine or grape fruit produced without supervisions by rabbis are not allowed.
There is one get-out clause to kosher food and drink, which states that the laws can be broken when human life is at stake.