Wh… Whi… Whis… Whisk… Whisky? Israeli Whisky?

I love whisky. I love Scotch. I have tasted whiskies from outside Scotland and enjoyed some of them, but the main loves of my whisky tasting are all Scotch. Despite that, I’d like to think I was not a whisky snob; what matters to me is the taste, smell, and experience – the whole interaction as I experience it. So, I expect it to be as unique for you as it is for me, meaning I will never tell other people what to drink. And while I might pay a lot of money for good whisky, there are many more occasions when I will pay less money and get something that is just as good for me.

But this perspective may have to change.

From the Forward:

October has come, and the warmth of the summer has fled those parts of these United States that only carry it seasonally. While Florida and California continue to sip their sparkling white wines, other regions are looking forward to that most enticing of prophylactic belly-glows: whisky.

While San Francisco mulls its recent Simchat Torah WhiskyFest and the New York area looks forward to the mid October Whisky Jewbilees, some Israelis are taking the long view.

For those few chilly areas of the Holy Land, or perhaps in case the Middle East suffers a spot of global cooling, Simon Fried and his partners at the Milk and Honey Distillery are making whisky.

The Forward’s Dan Friedman emailed with Fried about the challenges of single malt whisky production in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s backyard.

Oh wow, was I intrigued. It starts like this:

Dan Friedman: There are three things you need to make whisky: water, barley and time. Israel doesn’t obviously have any of those, so why do you want to set up a distillery in Israel?

Simon Fried: We want to set up a whisky distillery in Israel for several reasons. On a personal level, as individuals, the distillery’s founders are all whisky buffs. Some have craft and home-brewing experience from Israel. I have worked as a business consultant to Macallan. We want to and believe we can make a good whisky. Secondly, there is a growing movement of world whiskies. As we see it each whisky serves as an ambassador for its country of origin. We wanted to create such an ambassador. We want to make a kosher whisky that Jewish people and friends of Israel can be proud of.

That’s a cracker: you need three things for whisky. Israel has none of them!

All I can say is good luck, guys. I think the odds are stacked against them. For example, I expect them to be under pressure to get something to market sooner rather than later. (They quote a three year minimum period, but I don’t know any whisky worthy of the name of that age. Eight or twelve years is more mainstream.) The worry is that early to market does not equate with quality, that poor quality generates a poor reception, and the project tanks. I hope I am wrong.

Read the whole thing, here. Or check out the distillery site.

[A big thanks to Rafi for the tip.]