Wait, there`s food colouring in my expensive whiskey?

No surprise my glass of Mountain Dew is nuclear-wasteland-yellow with a little help from food coloring (FD&C Yellow No. 5 to be exact).

What is surprising is my tumbler of single malt Scotch is rich golden brown, thanks in part to something called E150a. Otherwise known as “spirit caramel,” or caramel coloring.

Turns out certain whiskies can be colored for visual adjustment. Among the most commonly, and controversially, colored: Scotch. Surprising, right? Considering the romance and rigor that goes into Scotch production—that it all ends with a dash of food coloring? But it’s true. According to the Scotch Whisky Act of 2009, which basically sets and/or updates standards for Scotch production, Scotch was and remains a spirit “to which no substance has been added except (i) water; (ii) plain caramel colouring; or (iii) water and plain caramel colouring.” Scots are pretty serious about their whisky regulations, and for now at least, it looks like caramel is fair game.


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