Kiddush Club in the news!

Kiddush Club in Israel's Makor Rishon newspaper, June 28, 2012
Translation to come!
But the reporter does get our names right!


Single malts the toast of kiddush clubs

Canadian Jewish News

Staff Reporter

Neil Nathan has given new meaning to sharing a toast with his parents on their wedding anniversary.

While he drank a l'chaim with his kiddush club at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue (Toronto, Canada) to toast the event, his parents, Bella and Phil, drank the same single malt scotch at approximately the same time at their home in London, England.

"[Their anniversary] was a significant event, [so] I logged on to the website of the distillers of one particular single malt and ordered a bottle to be shipped from Scotland to my parents home.

"Their anniversary was on a Friday, and the following day I brought a bottle of the scotch to the weekly kiddush club, where we toasted my parents.

"In London, my parents were sitting amidst the flowers I had ordered and drinking the same scotch," he says.

Nathan, an information technologist, says he began drinking single malt scotch 35 years ago in London, at the same time as he embarked on his career. "I had my first sniff of Glenfiddich and I suddenly discovered Scotland."

At B'nai Torah Congregation (Toronto, Canada), says George Weinberger, a Toronto chartered accountant, his kiddush club – one of two at the synagogue – meets after Shabbat services. It used to be evenly split between rye and scotch drinkers, now, "more and more people are drinking scotch.

"The demand for scotch has risen tremendously in the past few years. It has become the drink of choice for large numbers of North Americans, and also Japanese who are big consumers. Twelve years ago, no one would have predicted today's demand for scotch."

Especially in synagogues, he said, kiddush clubs members are enjoying it across North America.

Nathan says he had his first taste of whisky when he was seven years old and "my bubbie gave me a little bit with warm water. My parents are now [in their 80s] and they have a glass of scotch every day. It is in my blood; I grew up with it."

Although whisky is made in a number of countries, says Nathan, scotch whisky comes only from Scotland. Single malt indicates that the whisky, though possibly from different casks, was made in only one distillery and has not been blended with any other product.

Blended scotch, on the other hand, contains a variable proportion of blended malt and grain whiskies. A good quality blend may contain more than 40 per cent malt, an inferior one much less.

The maturation of scotch stops at bottling, so a 12-year- old whisky bottled four years ago is still a 12-year-old whisky. "One member of the kiddush club has bought a barrel of scotch and is waiting 10 years for it to mature," says Nathan.

It is a sipping drink, he says. "People drink it for the taste. I'm amazed when I pour someone a good single malt and they gulp it down. You cannot gulp and appreciate. Vodka is a fuel, it has no taste; scotch is to be appreciated."

Different scotches have different flavours, he says. "I can detect the smoothness, smokiness, colour, and bouquet or smell. When it is poured, I hold the glass in my hand to warm it up, and then swill it around to release the taste. Scotch glasses have a wide top so the drinker can sniff it while drinking."

It is usually accompanied by snacks."At a simchah, we drink scotch at the cocktail hour, but not at the meal. The absolute best thing to eat with scotch is shmaltz herring. When I come home from work, I may have a glass of scotch and some herring before I decide what to have for dinner."

He brings a bottle of single malt scotch to the kiddush club when there is a special occasion such as a birthday, or the recent anniversary.

There has been some controversy about the kashruth of certain scotches, he says, because some rabbis have an issue about drinking scotch that has been aged in a wine or sherry-based cask. Wines, and other products made from grapes, are subject to rigorous halachic strictures.

Sherry casks are wooden barrels that were originally used for the storing or aging of sherry wine. Similarly, port casks used in some scotch selections were originally used to store or age port wines.

But the halachic issue surrounding the case of sherry or port casks has been answered, according to Nathan, by Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, an Orthodox rabbi from Glasgow who has a pulpit in a north London synagogue. He writes that the "sherry casks used to mature some malts are imported bone dry and the main value of the sherry lies simply in the seasoning of the wood and perhaps some discolouration.

As well, Rabbi Reuven Lauffer, of Ohr Somayach/Tannenbaum College in Jerusalem, says that "from a halachic standpoint, even if the scotch is aged in sherry casks, the scotch is more than six times the volume of the wood, and it is kosher."

The first time Weinberger was served scotch, he says, he was told it was an acquired taste. "I soon began drinking any type of scotch I was given."

"When I started drinking single malt scotch, however, I was converted completely. I hardly drink rye now at all."

"Scotch is a drink that needs to be sipped. Then the flavour can be appreciated."

After a Friday-evening meal, he says, he puts out four or five selections of scotch so his guests can have a choice. "I will put out rye, if that is what they want."

At the B'nai Torah Congregation's Haftorah kiddush club, they generally drink blended scotch unless there is a special occasion, says member Michael Stavsky.

"Some blends are good, but when I drink single malt, I can detect the smoothness. If I were blindfolded, I could tell the difference. Each single malt has its own subtle flavour."

Stavsky, 28, who began drinking scotch several years ago, has expanded his collection since he moved here from Denver, Colorado, he says.

"Scotch should not be drunk like wine. It is for a l'chaim or after dinner. It is very much a social drink. Its not something to drink for the alcohol effects. It should be sipped and enjoyed with friends."

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