cRc Kashrus Alert: Whiskey

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From: "Chicago Rabbinical Council" <alerts@crcweb.org>
Date: Thu, 6 May 2010 17:20:18 -0400 (EDT)
To: <elipongo@gmail.com>
Subject: cRc Kashrus Alert



The following alert has been sent out on behalf of the Association of Kashrus Organizations (AKO)

Whisky Alert

May 2010
The AKO Executive Committee has reason to believe that there are large liquor companies in the United States which may be owned in whole or part by Jews. We are concerned that such companies may not have arranged for the sale of their chametz (mechiras chametz) during Pesach. These companies primarily manufacture bourbon, cordials, and American whiskey, and also deal in a small amount of Scotch and vodka.
Chametz-containing liquors owned, produced and/or aged by Jewish-owned companies over Pesach are forbidden as chametz she’avar alav haPesach.  
Since many liquor products are aged for many years before they are sold to the public, it cannot be assumed that these beverages are acceptable for kosher use even if they are purchased a long time before or after Pesach.
Accordingly, we recommend that Kashrus Agencies and consumers change their policies and only consume those alcoholic beverages which [are free of standard kosher concerns and] are known to (a) be produced by a non-Jewish company or a Jewish-owned company which arranged for the sale of their chametz, (b) not contain any chametz, including not having chametz secondary grains or malted barley (bourbon and cordials are examples of items that may have these forbidden items), and/or (c) were not aged over Pesach (e.g. vodka).
The following are some brands which we believe to be subject to the above concern:

1792 Ridgemont
51 Ice
99 Schnapps
A. Smith Bowman
Ancient Age
Antique Collection
Buffalo Trace
Canadian Host
Canadian Hunter
Canadian LTD
Canadian Supreme
Colonel Lee
Dr McGillicuddy’s
Eagle Rare
Elmer T Lee
Experimental Collection
Hancock’s Presidents Reserve
Highland Mist
House of Stuart
Inver House
James Foxe
Kentucky Gentleman
Kentucky Tavern
McAfee’s Benchmark
Mix 51
Mr. Boston
Northern Light
Old Charter
Old Thompson
Old Van Winkle
Pappy Van Winkle
Rich & Rare
Rock Hill Farms
Royal Canadian
Sazerac Rye
Ten High
Terra Brazilis
Tom Moore
Van Winkle
Very Old Barton
Virginia Gentleman
W L Weller

Consumers who already own one of these liquors are encouraged to ask their personal Rabbi whether returning the bottles to the store is considered to be having hana’ah (benefit) from chametz she’avar alav haPesach.  Lastly, we note that this notification does not cover the serious question of the status of whisky (or other chametz) owned on Pesach by a Jewish distributor who does or does not arrange for the sale of his chametz; consumers are once again encouraged to discuss this question with their personal Rabbi.
For updated information or questions regarding this notification, please email AKO at liquor@akokosher.org.
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moroni1 said...

Aside from the fact that they seem to conclude that liquor wholesalers tend to hold whiskey in inventory for years (a questionable proposition at best),how do they determine which companies are "owned in part" by Jews so that from a halachic standpoint they are deemed to constitute proprietorship and control? Why isn't this issue raised with Nabisco products? They certainly have Jewish stockholders.

Elias said...

That's a very good question and I don't know the answer!

I would guess that the rules are different for private versus publicly held companies, but I'll have to check on that.