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Apr 23, 2023Liked by Matt Pietrek

Very informative. Thank you! Your article does beg one question. Why is Demerara going away from the historical practice of lining the barrel with caramel before filling with rum and aging? What in total is lost and what is gained by stopping the use of caramel?

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That's something DDL would have to answer. In the interview (link in article) Shaun references an experiment to cut cost. Beyond that, it's possible that some casks are still done this way, but on a much smaller scale.

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One small note. You say, "producers use E150a only as needed to adjust the color of each batch to have a consistent color." Producers love to use this phrasing, but it is misleading marketing speak. In fact, producers use E150a to artificially color their products--not to address batch variance, but to make all batches darker! Look at Talisker 10, it glows bright orange. Look at Hamilton Jamaica Pot Still Dark, which openly admits that it is "Colored with double-strength black sugar-based caramel." Look at Worthy Park 109, which openly admits that it is "Darkened by aging in wooden barrels and spirit caramel." Look at all the 10-year scotches that use E150a vs. the ones that don't. They are WILDLY different in terms of darkness. As mentioned, some producers openly admit why they use E150a, but most don't. Most misleadingly suggest that they are only using E150a to address batch variation. As a wonk, you ideally should not repeat misleading marketing speak as wonkish fact.

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Some do use it for batch variation, while others intentionally choose to go darker than might be warranted. Since this post isn't about the use (or overuse) of E150a, I chose to not go down that rabbit hole. Otherwise, I'd have to explain in detail why I think some producers misuse coloring.

There's always more I could say in anything I post here, but few readers want to read an 8,000-word treatise, so I break things up into more manageable and discrete chunks.

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Great article. On the picture "Caramel tanks at Trinidad Distillers Ltd.", the tanks are labeled with "Allergen". Any idea why? The internet (wiki) informs me that caramel coloring might be an allergen if it is made from "starch hydrolysates (from wheat), malt syrup (in general derived from barley), or lactose (from milk)". Supposing the (spirit) caramel is only made from sugar cane and its products - what is causing the allergen label?

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Thanks for the kind words. Regarding the caramel question, I have no idea. We didn't spend any time talking about the caramel on my visit, other than to mention they make two types.

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