Is whisky matured in a sherry cask Kosher? I know there is a Machlokes about this. Who holds what?

  • 1
    Most Chabad rabbonim with whom I am acquainted hold that Macallan (prime example) is completely kosher as it is 1) free of grapes and is 2) considered a great whisky. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 22:50
  • 1
    I went to a discussion on this where it was mentioned, uncited, that the London Beit Din never had any concerns about the kashrut of Scotch. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 2:48
  • What suprises me about the cRc opinion is that they follow the idea that the entire volume of the aging barrel wood has to be nullified by the whiskey. However, i think it is very unlikely that the wood is as porous as a sponge, so that close to the volume of the wood absorbs wine. I would be surprised if the wine made it much deeper than a centimeter or two into the wood, and even there, the wood is much denser than a sponge. In other words, I bet the actual amount of wine that would need to be nullified is probably no where near the volume of the barrel wood!
    – user7204
    Commented Oct 13, 2014 at 21:43
  • @noach mi frankfurt regular Macallan is not aged in a sherry cask. if they have a specific one which is then that one would not be kosher. this would have no affect on the other scotches which are not aged in sherry casks. having any type of wine product used to affect the flavor of the whisky is a problem. The crc does a good job with identifying alcohol which is and isn't recommended and are willing to answer any question concerning specific products which are not on their list
    – Dude
    Commented Oct 19, 2014 at 23:02

4 Answers 4


See here.

Kosher and Sherry Casks

Rabbi Pinchas Teitz of Elizabeth, NJ, first reported in 1949 that there may be sherry wine in blended whisky – which would obviously create a problem for observant Jews who are also whisky lovers. It would then follow that any single malt Scotch that is exclusively matured or finished in sherry casks would pose a problem as well.

Rabbi Teitz raised the issue regarding the permissibility of drinking sherry-infused blended whisky to Rabbi Moshe Feinstein. Rabbi Feinstein, one of the 20th century’s great minds regarding Jewish law, had 3 responsa (rabbinical rulings) on the topic.

Essentially Rabbi Moshe Feinstein does not seem to have a problem with whisky matured in sherry casks. However he is reported to say that a "Ba’al Nefesh" should be stringent.

There is a very full discussion here where you can find all the sources.

Amongst Kashrus authorities, a search showed

1) Jersey Shore Orthodox Rabbinate

Scotch There are two types of Scotch commonly available, Blended and Single Malt. All types listed as being aged in sherry casks‟ „sherry finish‟ „port finish‟ or dual cask finish‟ are not recommended.

2) cRc - Liquor List - Chicago Rabbinical Council Similar to 1

3) Star-k

Scotch and Irish whisky would be acceptable unless specifically stated that the beverage has been aged in sherry casks finished in sherry or port casks. We do not have to assume that this is the case unless the company asserts that it is so. Our recommended liquor list reflects those products that do not specify aged in sherry casks.

My personal experience is that most people including our LOR are not worried about whisky matured in sherry casks.

  • could you source Rav Moshe's responsa?
    – Bochur613
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 23:09
  • 1
    So my question is why those major Kashrus agencies are worried about Sherry Casks if Rav Moshe is not. In other words, what posek has given the opposite opinion?
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 23:14
  • @andrewmh20 You are right. To get the answer, we need to summarize this large article referenced above crcweb.org/Sherry%20Casks%202.pdf. I have not been able to do that. Commented Mar 20, 2014 at 23:19
  • It's in 2 Teshuvos in Igros Moshe: Yoreh Deah 1:62-63
    – Zvi
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 23:09
  • why do you write 'It would then follow that any single malt Scotch that is exclusively matured or finished in sherry casks would pose a problem as well.'? There are strict regulations about Scotch - you cannot add sherry and still call it Scotch!
    – Zvi
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 10:56

There's a good article that summarzies the opinions here: http://doseofhalacha.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/kashrus-of-scotch.html Read through the comments, too:

The Poskim agree that ordinary Scotch whisky (whether single malt or blended) which has no mention of any wine casks is perfectly Kosher. The question arises when whisky has been matured in wine casks, such as the Macallan Sherry Oak. R’ Moshe Feinstein famously addresses this issue in 2 responsa: Igros Moshe YD 1:62-63. While the Shulchan Aruch (YD 134:13) forbids drinking a gentile’s beverage when it is customary to add non-Kosher wine to it, R’ Moshe follows the more lenient Rema. Providing the wine is nullified against 6 parts whisky (as opposed to the usual 1:60 ratio), the wine is Kosher. While R’ Moshe advises that a baal nefesh should best avoid such whisky, seemingly he was specifically referring to a scenario where wine had actually been added to whisky. As Scotch Whisky Regulations dictate that Scotch may only contain water, grain yeast and caramel colouring, we can be assured that wine is not added.

Many American Poskim are concerned that as the entire sherry (or port, Madeira, etc.) cask is saturated with non-Kosher wine, the wine is no longer battul 1:6 in the whisky. Others, including R’ Akiva Niehaus (Sherry Casks, A Halachic Perspective) argue that R’ Moshe wasn't referring to Scotch, but to American or Canadian whiskey. Accordingly, they forbid Wine Cask Finishes, arguing that the wine adds a recognizable taste to the whisky. Nonetheless, Rabbanim in the UK (including the London Beis Din) maintain that R’ Moshe’s rulings apply to Scotch, and follow Dayan Weiss’s permissive ruling, too (Minchas Yitzchak 2:28).

Note, that distilleries outside of Scotland (including Ireland) are not bound by the same regulations, and their whiskies may be problematic. Thus one must consult their Kashrus authority.

  • 1
    Having researched this extensively, I'd add to this very good answer that the issue with sherry casks is when the whiskey was finished (matured) entirely in sherry casks. When it has been matured in say bourbon, oak and sherry casks, there is no issue because the sherry cask is only there for part of the time (source: R Niehaus very complete monography)
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 16, 2015 at 7:14

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein was addressing blended whiskey, but the issues are basically the same with regards to a sherry-cask scotch as far as I know.

Rabbi Feinstein said it was allowable, but not preferable; he personally made reasonable attempts to avoid such a product (as a chumrah) , and gave his blessing to those who would make a product certified as free of non-kosher wine. So authorities such as the cRc and Star-K who don't recommend "sherry-finished scotches" are following Rabbi Feinstein. They're not necessarily saying they're certifiably not kosher, just that they're not endorsed.

The Star-K's position, for instance, is if it says on the label "this contains sherry" (in one language or another), then they don't recommend it. If you don't know, then you can rely on its permissibility if it happens to be there.

  • why do you say that R' Moshe was only ' addressing blended whiskey'? He didn't write that, and most certainly knew about the different types. If he didn't specify so, then surely his hetter applies to all whiskys and whiskeys?!
    – Zvi
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 23:07
  • @Zvi his responsum --YD1:62 -- is to Rabbi Teitz regarding "blended yash", that's what it says explicitly. (New York Jews 50 years ago drank that more than single-malt, from what I understand.) The concern there was that wine and glycerin were added as ingredients. However the poskim cited here (and R' Dovid Miller of the Gruss Kollel) all say that the same logic would apply to a single-malt that may contain some non-kosher wine due to the sherry cask.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 6:31
  • so what if they drank that more?! R' Moshe knew about single-malt and would have specified that his hetter doesn't apply to single-malt if he wanted to. Glenfiddich has long been the world's most exported whisky.. See scotch-whisky.org.uk/media/12744/… Other than caramel, no ingredients may be added. The English Rabbanim who know first hand what's going on are generally Mattir.
    – Zvi
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 10:59
  • @Zvi I think we're agreeing here, the same heter would apply according to Rav Moshe, though he said it was better to be machmir. It's just important for history's sake to accurately describe Rav Moshe's words.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 12:36
  • @Zvi one argument suggested why sherry casks are less of an issue than a blended containing wine -- the wine in a blended is there for color/flavor. The sherry cask may not actually be there to impart the sherry flavor, but instead to tone down some of the wood flavors.
    – Shalom
    Commented Mar 23, 2014 at 12:37

Well, I'm the new Jewish boy around here. Please note that I´m also frum. Recently, I started to try beers more "pro" like, since I completely HATE vodka (what kind of Chabad am I, I don´t know, but smirnoff is definetly NOT my style), whiskey, many kinds of wine and, specially, gin and rum. But in beer I really found my spot, and started doing a "world tour" on different types, having a different one for every Shabbos. Last year though, when my mother, my father and I went into vacations for Sukkos, we decided to go to an empty pub the night before. There, she asked for a "beer that looks like wine" of course WITHOUT wine (there are some beers that mimic that taste without grapes, only the usual kosher stuff- yeast, malt, hops, sugar and water); the waiter came back with a Flanders Red Ale, at the time I had never heard of that type (there´s only like 5 or 6 brands that do that style, being the two most famous Verhaeghe-which is the best one and only does that- and Rodenbach). It tasted EXACLTY like balsamic vinegar and sour cherries, so my mom, apart from HATING balsamic, spewed it out thinking there were real grapes in the beer. Of course, this wans´t the fact. That beer had NOTHING of grape inside, but it had been matured in casks for months (between eight and eighteen months). Later I would learn from the brewery owner (without him knowing that i was asking for halachic purposes) that those casks (or tanks, since they are REALLY bigger), besides NO grape adding or wine (I told him I was allergic), hasn´t seen real wine for MANY years. Of course, I went directly to my rabbis concerned about the fact, specially because I know that Yeyn Nessech Eino Batel, and two of them permitted whilst one didn´t want to answer. I´m at the moment finishing my Smicha and the good thing is that I had a contact with the Shulchan Aruch in a closer way than bochur yeshives normally get. In Siman 137 of Yoreh Deah says that if the cask spent 12 months without wine, its ok. Even if in the meantime you put there beer or water (and some sustain even other liquids), the clock does not stops (although some maintain that that is only when there is a Sheish to batel the wine in the walls of the tank or cask)! Plus, there are many opinions that beer, more than ANY other liquids, POGEM the wine (see the Taz on Yoreh Deah 99, and Avodah Zarah where, I believe, Rav permits Ravina to store beer in a Kli that has been previously used for wine). I also heard, on the other hand, that Rabbi Landau Shlit´´a from Bnei Brak DEFINETELY prohibits ANYTHING that had been placed on those barrels, although many other poskim suggest that that´s just a stringency. I won´t say that Lechatchila it´s ok, but maybe bedieved there is where to Somech since it is not only one or two poskim, but MANY that maintain that beer Pogem the Wine (and even for a good Cheilek of people, the beer I just mentioned has a VERY PAGOM taste - specially those that aren´t in the "sour" type of beers). I would like to ask you guys opinions on this. Also, the first thing to mention is that this specific beer is matured on oaken casks that is about almost ten times the size of a Sherry normal cask, and has probably about a hundred years.

  • 1
    You can "paskin" 1000 times over that beer is pogeim, but that doesn't change the fact that companies are doing it to taste better and high paying customers agree. Ruling about Natlap isn't an ontological statement about the relationship between specific flavors.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 6:05
  • Welcome Michel Guendler Gruenberg
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 6:55
  • How are you explaining the need to mature the beer isn casks. If the taste is not good, why. See Gemara of the עכברא בשכרא in Avoda Zara, following most rishonim (not following Raavad). If we have really 2 steps: 1- pogem wine, less than Achilat Ger (the Raah Shita in natlaf for the blia itself) and furthermore using the casks, it is good. But if this is an instantaneous process, it is prohibited because the way is to shevach without interruption. Even if Beer pogem the wine, wine (the Issur) meshabeach the beer!!!
    – kouty
    Commented Jul 29, 2016 at 7:00
  • Thanks Kouty. Achbara BeShichra is in the 104 of Y"D S"A. Already studied it. The thing here is not that the wine is meshabeach the beer, the thing is that the Tannins on the Wood make it look like "wine beer". There is no influence of wine whatsoever in the beer, plus a single cask can receive up to 11071 Liters (meaning that of course there is enough to levatel a sheis of the walls). And plus, Avida LeTaama is a machlokes and many sustain that that is only true regarding things like salt, peppers and other type of spices (not wine, maybe). Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 15:03
  • Again Chevrei, we are talking about Bedieved, not Lechatchila. Of course, if we are talking about Mehadrin min HaMehadrin any beer that involves that process would be definetely assur, as well as the Whiskies from Sherry Casks. That is like Chalav Stam x Chalav Isroel, there is no comparison. By the way, Kouty, what do you mean by "Instantaneous Process"? Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 15:08

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