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Thursday, 20 September 1906

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) . - I shall oppose the amendment, but not because spirits made from molasses are , more injurious than any other highlyrectified spirit. That is not the question at issue. During the past twelve months I have heard a great deal in reference to the respective virtues of the pot still and the patent still, and I really cannot understand why the House of Representatives has departed from the recommendation of the Tariff Commission in respect of the manufacture of whisky. From the sworn evidence tendered to that body, I am satisfied that the very best whisky is always produced by means of the pot still. Of course those who have 'adopted the patent still have done so because it is more rapid in' its action, and cheaper. But if we! desire to secure a genuine spirit, it must be distilled by means of the pot still. Why another place has sanctioned the distillation of whisky at a higher strength than that recommended by the Tariff Commission I cannot understand. Honorable senators must always recollect , that the higher a spirit is rectified the more costly does it become, and consequently when a distiller is manufacturing whisky out of grain as well as out of malt, he will naturally rectify it only to that degree of strength which is absolutely necessary to produce whisky. Consequently, the idea of Senator Drake that spirit made from different varieties of grain will be rectified to such a high degree of strength that it will become neutral spirit, is nonsense.

Senator Staniforth Smith - That contingency is not provided for in the Bill.

Senator McGREGOR - But I would point out to the honorable senator that the cost of doing what he suggests will be too great .for any distiller to incut . If we permit whisky to be blended with spirit of a higher degree of strength than itself, it will naturally require more breaking down and will not contain the properties which, are essential to a good whisky. I do not know whether any honorable senator intends to submit an amendment in favour of adhering to the recommendation of the Tariff Commission that spirit shall only be rectified up to 35 degrees over proof.

Senator Clemons - I do.

Senator McGREGOR - If the honorable senator does that I shall support him. I shall oppose any attempt to blend with malt spirit any spirit other than that which is manufactured from grain. That course of action is not prompted by the fear that molasses spirit is unwholesome. Rum may Be just as wholesome as whisky or brandy. But rum should be distilled from the byproducts of sugar, brandy from the products of the vine, and whisky should be manufactured from grain. I may tell honorable senators that grain and malt are often mixed before distillation takes place. But here we provide for a different method. We declare that there shall be at least 25 per cent, of malt spirit in the spirit distilled. As the production of whisky from malt is more expensive than its distillation from grain, it necessarily follows that in any blend distillers will use the maximum of the one and the minimum of the other class of spirit. I trust that we shall not allow any spirit other than that which is produced from grain to be blended, with, any article which is sold as whisky.

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