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Is Clear Whiskey A Thing? Here’s The Answer (2022 Updated)

Last Updated on August 25, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Whiskeys are naturally white. After fermentation, distillation, and filtration, the spirit comes out clear. Aging whiskey inside barrels causes its color to change.

However, a new breed of spirit is out on the market – clear and white whiskey – said to be aged as well. 

It took the liquor world by storm, they said. But really, is clear whiskey a thing? Keep reading to find out.

Clear Whiskey: Is It Really A Thing?

Clear Whiskey Brands on desk

Yes, clear whiskey is a thing – literally and figuratively. Clear whiskey is real. It’s an unaged whiskey that always piques the interest of many seasoned whiskey sippers. 

Clear whiskey is not a new addition to the whiskey roster, but whiskey enthusiasts weren’t so excited about it before. They see it as a means to use this spirit as an economic lifeline while the real whiskeys are aging.

This could be true, at least for small-time craft whiskey manufacturers. They were selling these bottles with the same amount, if not higher, than a regular whiskey. 

However, the game changed when the big dogs in the whiskey industry stepped in and changed the storyline.

What’s A Clear Whiskey?

Clear whiskey is a spirit fermented, distilled, and filtered but is colorless. Some are unaged, but those products labeled as white whiskeys underwent a third process that cleared out whatever color they may have acquired. 

The fresh from the still liquor is kept in a non-charred barrel to prevent pigment compounds [1] from influencing its appearance. Also, it is not stored for long to minimize flavor leaching. 

What Makes It Popular

What Makes It Popular

Curiosity could be the main reason why clear whiskey is becoming a popular whiskey choice now. It used to be sold at a high price mainly to help manufacturers get by while their Scotches and bourbons age, at least for the small-scale ones. 

It was not positive publicity for clear whiskey, but everything changed when big names like Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, and Jim Beam entered the game.

These manufacturers sold their version of white whiskey and gave it a fancy name, “white dog,” at a significantly lower price, changing the storyline permanently. 

How Clear Whiskey Tastes 

Clear whiskey tastes simple and raw, depending on the mash bill used. However, it is natural that the sweet corn aroma will be heightened. It lacks the consequential flavors found in any aged whiskey. 

The smoothness of this whiskey is worthy of being acknowledged, though, since it does not cause any harsh flavors on the concoctions. The right ingredients can create a fuller and more savory taste.

Is Clear Whiskey Unaged? 

Is Clear Whiskey Unaged? 

Clear whiskey is technically unaged since they are not kept for certain periods like other whiskey variants. However, varieties of white whiskeys are kept for minimal days inside uncharred barrels. 

Others are placed in filtration chambers [2] to remove whatever colors they may have acquired during the short period. After completing this process, that would be the time they are bottled. 

Other Terms Used For Clear Whiskey

Apart from the common name used, white whiskey, this is also known as a white dog, while others call it moonshine. 

Brands already produced their white whiskey variant and named them based on the dominant flavor. Some are called plain Corn whiskey

  • White whiskey
  • White dog
  • Corn whiskey
  • Based on the brand’s dominant flavor

Is It The Same As Moonshine?

Is It The Same As Moonshine?

No. Clear whiskey is not the same as moonshine. Except for the appearance, nothing else is similar to the two spirits. 

Clear whiskey goes through the entire process of fermentation until filtration and a bit of maturity, which classifies it as a real whiskey.

How Do You Drink It? 

Buffalo Trace with cocktail on table

The best way to drink it is to find the best-fitting cocktail drink for the type of clear whiskey you have. Its popularity has risen because it can certainly elevate the flavors of the drinks added with it. 

However, we don’t recommend drinking this whiskey straight, especially if you’re a beginner, because it could be too strong for your palate.

FAQs

Is whiskey naturally clear?

Yes, whiskey is naturally clear. After fermentation and distillation, the mash bill comes out of the still as clear as water. There may be instances where it is cloudy, but once distilled the second time or filtered, the liquid becomes clear again. 

Is clear whiskey illegal?

No, clear whiskey is not illegal because it follows the requirements implemented by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The correct mash bill is used, the right process, and the proper aging is reached.

Homemade moonshine is not legal. Clear whiskey is, and that’s what makes them different. 

Final Thoughts 

Clear whiskey is a thing, and it looks like it is here to stay. If flavored whiskey has gained its followers, this variant is slowly but steadily gathering its flock. The game changer was the price, as it has always had its unique feature. 

What kept everyone from discovering what it had to offer was its price. Micro distilleries paved the way for these spirits, but the major players won the game. 

It is not something that whiskey purists embrace, but the trend has started, and it appears that this bottle is staying.

References:

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/organic-pigment
  2. https://www.thoughtco.com/filtration-definition-4144961

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