Chill-filtered is a process used in the production of some whiskies, including bourbon, to remove certain compounds and impurities that can cause cloudiness or haze when the whiskey is chilled or diluted with water.
During the production of bourbon, after the spirit has been distilled and aged in oak barrels, it is typically filtered before bottling to ensure clarity and stability. Chill filtering involves cooling the whiskey to near-freezing temperatures, typically 32 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit, and passing it through a series of filters.
The purpose of chill filtering is to remove fatty acids, proteins, and esters that may be present in the whiskey. These compounds can sometimes cause a cloudy appearance or create sediment when the bourbon is exposed to lower temperatures or mixed with water or ice. By removing these substances, the whiskey maintains its clarity and consistency even under chilled conditions.
However, chill filtering can have an impact on the flavor and mouthfeel of the bourbon. Some argue that the process removes certain desirable flavors and textures, resulting in a slightly smoother but potentially less complex whiskey. As a result, there is a growing interest in non-chill-filtered bourbons among whiskey enthusiasts.
Non-chill-filtered bourbons are bottled without undergoing the chill-filtering process. They may retain more of the natural compounds and flavors present in the whiskey, resulting in a richer and potentially cloudier appearance when chilled. Some people prefer the fuller flavor and texture of non-chill-filtered bourbons, as they believe it better represents the original character of the spirit.
Ultimately, whether one prefers chill-filtered or non-chill-filtered bourbon is a matter of personal preference. Both styles have their own unique qualities, and it’s worth exploring different expressions to discover which appeals to your taste.