Passover, or Pesach in Hebrew is celebrated each spring by people of the Jewish faith. It generally lasts for seven to eight days depending on one’s followings. There are many things that are supposed to happen and many things that should not happen during this time. One of the things is the avoidance of leavened grain products. Since whiskey usually contains a variety of grains such as corn, wheat, rye or barley it should be avoided during Passover.
Technically, grain based whiskey should not even be owned let alone consumed during the period. We won’t try to go into the religious side of this topic since there are many interpretations. We are however providing three helpful videos below provided by the cRc – Kosher (Chicago Rabbinical Council) that will help to shed some light on the distilled spirits side of what is acceptable.
And now, back to the new whiskey release, in fact there are three releases that are now available.
Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky is releasing what it believes to be the first authentic Kosher Whiskey, under the guidance of the Chicago Rabbinical Council (cRc-Kosher). The new whiskey is available in three styles, Kosher Rye Recipe Bourbon; Kosher Wheat Recipe Bourbon; and Kosher Straight Rye Whiskey.
Kosher law mandates that whiskey should not be owned or consumed by Jews during Passover. Buffalo Trace Distillery is owned by Sazerac. It is a privately owned family company led by Chairman William “Bill” Goldring who is Jewish. In 2010 Buffalo Trace began working with cRc for guidance on how to make a kosher whiskey. In 2012 in order to follow the kosher rules the cRc oversaw the sale of new American Oak Kosher barrels in a contract of sale to a non-Jewish executive, Buffalo Trace Distillery President Mark Brown. Eight years ago these special barrels were filled with three different whiskey mash bills and put away in specially marked “Kosher whiskey” barrels to age.
Once the whiskey reached its desired age earlier this year, the bottling lines at the Distillery were flushed completely beforehand to ensure the whiskey was not exposed to any non-Kosher spirits.
“This is a milestone in the spirits industry to produce a truly Kosher whiskey,” said Mark Brown, owner of the Kosher barrels at Buffalo Trace. “We know Kosher products are very important to the Jewish community as well as a broader audience, we are fully committed to ensuring that the entire chain of custody remains Kosher so the purchaser has 100% confidence this is a Kosher whiskey.”
“We’re excited that our partnership which we began ten years ago has come to fruition,” stated Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kashrus administrator Chicago Rabbinical Council, “Our members have shown great interest in the prospect of being able to enjoy a Kosher whiskey. We are very happy Buffalo Trace has taken the steps to make sure this happens.”
Buffalo Trace Distillery Kosher Kentucky Straight Bourbon High Rye, High Wheat and Straight Rye Whiskies
This allocated whiskey will be released after Passover ends this year on April 16. Bottles will sell through wholesalers and retailers before Passover begins again in 2021. The new Kosher whiskey line is limited, but it will be an annual release each year after Passover. The labels depict both Buffalo Trace Distillery logo and the cRc-Kosher logo. Each expression of Buffalo Trace Kosher Whiskey is bottled at 94° proof (47% ABV) and has a suggested retail price of $39.99 per 750ml bottle.
What Qualifies as a Kosher Distilled Spirit?
If you are interested in learning more about the rules around what liquors are or are not acceptable during Passover the cRc-Kosher (Chicago Rabbinical Council) has provided us with these three short videos for guidance. And here is some additional information to help you find other Kosher spirits. The cRc-Kosher (Chicago Rabbinical Council) has compiled a list of certified kosher American whiskey, bourbon, brandy, Canadian whiskey, cognac, gin, Irish whiskey, liqueur, mead, rum, sake, scotch, tequila, soju, vodka, vermouth, and other alcoholic beverages.
Here’s the full list of certified kosher spirits from the Chicago Rabinical Council as of April 14, 2020.
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