Scotch whisky’s finest malts are being ruined by the smell of rotten eggs, an expert has suggested.
Respected whisky writer Jim Murray claimed that sulphur being used to kill off bacteria in wooden casks is tarnishing the Scotland’s world famous brand.
The barrels are used by distillers to “age” their product and mature its taste.
Murray is calling on distillery chiefs to “weed out” the imported barrels which are “undermining an entire industry’s reputation.”
“We are facing crisis time. This is no longer an occasional problem, it’s rampant,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying in the new edition of his book, the ‘Whisky Bible.’
“Sadly it is no longer restricted to Scotland: defective whisky is found in Ireland, Japan, Canada … Whichever country you may be in.
“It is time to wake up, pull your head out of the sand and smell the sulphur. I am meeting people who are being turned off by this stink bomb nose and bitter finish they cannot tolerate. We have got to the stage where a significant number of bottles are substandard,” he said.
Whisky is traditionally distilled in copper pot stills to rid the finished product of a sulphurous smell, but many distillers then use second-hand sherry butts to add a fruity finish during maturation.
Many of the casks, imported from Spain, have been treated with sulphur candles which provide an anti-bacterial coating.
Up to a third of people is genetically unable to smell the pungent fumes, making it easier for tainted batches to slip through.
But Murray wants all distillers to employ a blender who can spot the problem.