Here’s a bunch of questions about kosher alcohol. L’Chaim!
Jeff Sokolow wrote:
In your view, would a hechsher (kashrut certification) be required for sake (Japanese rice wine)? It is my understanding that sake is distilled from fermented rice in much the same way vodka is distilled from potatoes. I would assume the answer is therefore no, unless some non-kosher ingredient were to be added in the distilling process. Thank you and best wishes.
R. Galert wrote:
Is Tequila Kosher? How can I get a list of kosher alcoholic beverages?
Aharon Goldman from Jerusalem wrote:
Is there any way to get information on kashruth of various alcoholic drinks? In particular I’m interested in Southern Comfort, Khalua, Drambuie, Cointreau.
Richard Eden wrote:
What is it that makes wine kosher? Do similar rules apply to other alcoholic beverages? Are beer and spirits either kosher or non-kosher?
The London Beth Din publishes a list of kosher foods, including liqueurs and alcoholic drinks. I checked the list and found the following:
The only sake they list as kosher is Hatsukuru sake. They certify the following types of Tequila Souza as kosher: Conmenerativa, Gold, Hornitos, Silver and Tres Generacione. According to their list, Cointreau is kosher only if produced in France. Southern Comfort is kosher only if produced in Ireland. All Drambuie and Khalua are kosher.
Wine has a uniquely strict status due to its use in religious ceremonies. All wines without kashrut certification are non-kosher.
Regarding kosher beer, the following is adapted from an article written by Rabbi Tzvi Rosen for Kashrus Kurrents:
Most U.S., Norwegian, English and German beers are acceptable. Stouts, flavored beers and "Barley wine" require certification, as do European, Asian, and other beers about which there is insufficient information regarding their contents.
Beer is normally made from all kosher ingredients: Water, barley, yeast, and hops. Isinglass finning (made from ground tropical fish), gelatin, and other ingredients are sometimes added to remove dark particles from the beer. Caramel color is sometimes added for coloring. In all, United States law allows over fifty-nine chemicals or additives to be used in beer.
Gelatin and isinglass clarifiers are not used in domestic beer in the United States. Isinglass finnings have been used as a beer clarifier in the UK for centuries. Over two hundred years ago the great Halachic authority Rabbi Yechezkel Landau in his work Nodah B’Yehudah permitted isinglass clarifier (Yorah Deah, Siman 26). A clarifier only filters unwanted particles and is not present in the final beverage.
Fruit flavorings and spices are used to make flavored beers. By U.S. law, these beers must be labeled "Flavored Beer." Flavored beer definitely requires kosher certification.
"Barley wine" is a specialty beer which definitely needs kosher certification, because it is sometimes fermented with non-kosher wine or champagne yeast.
Obviously, the kashrut status of a product changes with changes in production methods or kashrut supervision.