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Thursday, 20 September 1906

Senator BEST (Victoria) . - I hope that the Committee will not adopt this request. It is true that this item provides that as regards 25 per cent, of the blend, it shall be rectified up to 45 per cent, 'over proof, but nothing is said as regards the balance of 75 per cent. Senator Drake suggests that it will be composed of a neutral spirit. So far as my information goes, the honorable senator is entirely wrong. Grain spirit can be rectified even up to 60 per cent, over proof, and retain much of its destructive character.. The point is that no distiller would think for a moment of rectifying his grain spirit up to such a strength as would, make it a neutral spirit. Senator Drake's case depends on the supposition that this, whisky will be made of 25 per cent, pure malt spirit, and 75 per cent.' neutral spirit. But to make true whisky the 75 per cent, must necessarily retain a large degree of its distinctive character. Rectification might take place to a strength between 40 and 50 per cent, over proof, but even above that .strength the distinctive character of the grain is retained. The honorable and learned senator desires that the item should be so amended that it will be possible to substitute molasses for grain spirit in this blended whisky. If molasses spirit is used it must be a neutral spirit. There must he no trace of molasses in it, or that would spoil the whisky altogether. I think that members of the Tariff Commission will support my statement that it is vital to this item that the spirits of which the blend ds composed must be grain spirits.

Senator Clemons - That is so.

Senator BEST - If it is made from molasses spirit the blend will not be- a whisky at all. In my second-reading speech I quoted at some length from the opinions of leading distillers to show that the chief constituents from which whiskymust be made are oats, wheat, maize, and, of course, barley. If spirit be made from molasses it is deliberately misleading the public to dare to call it whisky. We should be careful in dealing with this Bill that the public shall not be supplied with, a spirit under the name of whisky which is not whisky.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Is not sugar used in' the distillation of whisky?

Senator BEST - I cannot say. I think that the result of malting produces a degree of sugar, but that is only incidental to the grain itself.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - I think that sugar is used quite apart from that.

Senator BEST - I cannot say. Senator Clemons has raised a point which has been discussed a great deal of late; - 1" refer to the relative merits of the pot and patent stills. The Coffey, or patent still, has been used by the leading distilleries of the world for the past sixty or seventy years. The DCL distillery, which has an annual output of 10,000,000 gallons, has used that still during the whole of the period I have indicated. They employ maize, rye, and oats, and the product of all or any of these is distilled either in the pot still or in the patent still.

Senator Clemons - They do not make their best whisky with the patent still.

Senator BEST - Dunville and Company, distillers, of Belfast, who manufacture about 2,500,000 gallons of spirits annually, use both the patent and the pot stills. So far as I understand the relative merits of these two stills, it cannot be denied that excellent whisky can be marie from both. The only difference between them is that the patent still is more rapid in its action. If we are careful of the degree of strength to which a spirit may be rectified, it is quite immaterial whether it is distilled by means of the patent or the pot still. But for the reasons which I have urged, we should not support the request of .Senator Drake.

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