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PostSubject: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:03 am

i am going to a Shabbat dinner in a very strict kosher home. I asked what i could bring and the host said, scotch if you want. I don't drink so I am completely lost on what would be appropriate, and will there be a kosher symbol on it? Or is all scotch automatically kosher? Help would be appreciated!

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Carrie
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:56 am

"Kosher" as I have said before on this forum is unfortunately not as simple as a yes/no thing. If the host said you could bring scotch, they may be of the opinion that any scotch is "kosher" since they can't expect you to know details about their particular observance of kashrut. I didn't think that any bottles of scotch had kosher symbols (hechshers), but I did further checking and discovered that a few have become rabbinically supervised (This is recent, I think, since my understanding is that scotch was formerly thought not to need rabbinic supervision to be kosher by most Orthodox rabbis. There has been a tendency for stricter and stricter definitions of "kosher" by some Orthodox Jews.)

However, some rabbis think there are issues about scotch that is aged in casks that may have been used before for non-kosher sherry, so this webpage has a list of scotches where this has been checked: Kosher liquor
Ardbeg: 10 year
Auchentoshan: Original, 16 Year
Balvenie: 15 Year Single Barrel
Dramguish: Any age
Glenlivet: 12 year, 15 year French Oak, Nadura 16 year, Nadura 191
Glenrothes: Alba
Glenmorangie: Original, Astar
McClelland's: Lowland, Speyside (Speyside 12, Highland and Islay are NOT certified kosher)
Royal Legacy of 1745: Any age
The Speyside: Any age
Tomintoul: 10 year, 16 year, 33 year, Peaty Tang.

And here's another source to check for kosher status of whisky:
Kosher Whisky
Technically, only whisky made in Scotland is "scotch", but I have no idea which of the ones listed are truly "scotch whisky". This list even rates the whiskys on how strict a level of kashrut they pass. Note that "Mehadrin" is the most stringent level of kosher supervision.

Note: I don't drink hard liquor either, so I have no idea what any of the above listed brands are. I notice however that the brand of scotch that an Orthodox friend in Israel asked me to pick up at the Duty Free shop at the airport for him, Chivas Regal, is not on the list, so I think the above list is very, very strict. (It is on the second list as "kosher according to important poskim")

Here's another consideration: I think that a bottle of scotch whisky is typically quite expensive---I just checked the list above compared to a list I found on Goggle for "cheap scotch"---$45/bottle is the cheapest I found of any on the first list, and $30/bottle for some that are only "kosher according to important poskim". A lot of money for a dinner gift IMHO. So perhaps you should just bring a nice bouquet of flowers (a common gift for guests to bring to a home where they have been invited for Shabbat dinner). You could always explain truthfully that since you don't drink, you didn't know what scotch to buy and also you were worried about kosher issues. That is certainly true, since even with the above info I'd be hard pressed to figure out which were true "scotch whisky" and also were kosher by the most stringent measures (which is the only thing that is "safe" since you don't know specifics about your host's kashrut observance).


Last edited by Debbie B. on Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:13 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : correction about whisky with hechshers)
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Bee

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:54 am

very informative Very Happy
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James

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:01 pm

Like Debbie mentioned, there is some concerns with Scotch because the same barrels are used for sherry, which are made from wine.

Most traditional, unflavored whiskey, however, is kosher. But watch the spelling; typically whisky (no "e") is used for Scotch, while whiskey is used for Irish, Canadian, and American whiskey. Hard to go wrong with a nice bottle of Bourbon. I usually use the first link Debbie posted when in doubt.

You should check with your host about the Scotch; there is a huge difference in taste between types and brands. If he is regular drinker he probably has a preference.
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Debbie B.

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:04 pm

The problem with "checking with the host" is that if he likes Scotch that is out of your price range, you may still feel obligated to buy it having asked for more details, or if you don't, you'll feel "cheap". I still vote for flowers or some other "safe" item such as candy that is marked Pareve with a well-respected hechsher (say OU or cRc). It is worth noting that depending on the situation (such as the time you arrive relative to the official onset of Shabbat or when the hosts have lit candles and have thus ushered in Shabbat in their home) the hosts may feel that your gift cannot be used during Shabbat. So if your gift is whisked off and not used, it doesn't necessarily mean that your gift was inappropriate

I was reminded of the above issues by two memories of my friend who likes Chivas: 1) I had brought him the Chivas just before the beginning of Passover. He thanked me, but then very quickly put it away because it would be considered "chametz" once the holiday started.
2) Then several days later when I was invited to this friend's home for Shabbat lunch, I brought a gift of a blow-up beach ball with a matzah print that was labeled a "Matzah Ball". (They live in the same Israeli town as my husband did at that time, there was an eruv, and we had walked to their house, so there was no issue of Shabbat violation in bringing the gift over.) My friend was delighted by the joke of the ball. His daughter, understanding potential issues having been brought up in a rather strictly observant Orthodox home, asked him hopefully: "Can we blow it up now, Daddy?" He thought about it and then decided that although it might be permissible if the top was not plugged, that it would be better to wait until after Shabbat to blow it up to avoid possible Shabbat violations.
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:01 pm

How about if you just purchased the Scotch from a Jewish/Kosher liquor store in the neighborhood of the place you are going?

I'm sure if they see a bag or something that has the name of a liquor store they recognize from the neighborhood, they would open the bottle right there and offer you a shot!
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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:00 pm

searchinmyroots wrote:
How about if you just purchased the Scotch from a Jewish/Kosher liquor store in the neighborhood of the place you are going?

I'm sure if they see a bag or something that has the name of a liquor store they recognize from the neighborhood, they would open the bottle right there and offer you a shot!
I live in a town with a very high Orthodox Jewish population, but I think only the rabbinically supervised supermarket with the "largest kosher wine selection in the midwest" would possibly have Scotch. There is no dedicated kosher liquor store in the whole Chicago area to the best of my knowledge. Perhaps the local chain supermarket (Jewel) with the big kosher section has Scotch in its kosher wine section, but the bag would only be from that chain which also sells a lot of treif stuff. So I think this suggestion could only work in some areas in and around NYC, and very Jewish areas of Maryland and L.A.

By the way, here are the "OU" certified Scotches that the above store sells online:
OU Scotches from KosherWine.com

Drinking shots may be typical before non-Jewish dinner parties, but it is not done before the Shabbat evening meal. Sorry to take seriously what was probably said half in jest, but you really do have to be very careful about what you do and expect when visiting a strictly observant home on Shabbat. There are some very strict homes that would avoid opening an unopened bottle after the beginning of Shabbat (because to do so "makes a new vessel").

Along this line of thinking, be careful not to touch light switches: although observant homes will typically cover or tape lights in places like bathrooms, they might not. If, like many of us trained to conserve energy, you tend automatically turn off lights when leaving the bathroom, you could seriously inconvenience your hosts for all of Friday night and into the beginning of Saturday night since they will not be able to turn the light back on until the end of Shabbat. And if lights are left off in a room, they need to be left off---better to ask if you need something you think is in a dark room.
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searchinmyroots

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PostSubject: Re: Is scotch kosher?    Mon Feb 13, 2012 11:33 pm

Debbie B. wrote:

Drinking shots may be typical before non-Jewish dinner parties, but it is not done before the Shabbat evening meal. Sorry to take seriously what was probably said half in jest, but you really do have to be very careful about what you do and expect when visiting a strictly observant home on Shabbat. There are some very strict homes that would avoid opening an unopened bottle after the beginning of Shabbat (because to do so "makes a new vessel").

.

Yes, it was said half in jest, but you are 200% correct!

Shabbat is something that should be taken very seriously and one should be very careful and respectful especially in a strictly observant home.
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