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June 5, 2013 12:56 pm

Jews Becoming Major Targets for Whiskey Industry

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avatar by Zach Pontz

Various whiskey on a store's shelves. Photo: Wikipedia.

Whiskey producers have identified a valuable market, and it might come as a bit of a surprise: Jews—and in particular observant Jews.

Writes the New York Times: “Retailers have long recognized Jews as valuable customers. ‘Jewish men are very interested in the selection of whiskey available at a wedding or bar/bat mitzvah,’ said Jonathan Goldstein, vice president of Park Avenue Liquor Shop, a Manhattan store known for its whiskey selection. ‘They very often will pick up a special bottle to offer close friends or relatives.’ Of the Friday before the Jewish holiday of Purim, last February, he said, ‘It was like Christmas in here.'”

One of the ways in which Whiskey producers have moved to court the Jewish consumer is by certifying their whiskeys as kosher—or by making special kosher batches.

For example, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky enlisted “the Chicago Rabbinical Council in laying down more than 1,000 barrels of three styles of whiskey, all certified kosher and set for release in five or six months,” writes the Times.

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The Royal Wine Corporation, a New York producer of kosher wine and grape juice, asked Wesley Henderson to make a kosher-certified version of his boutique bourbon, Angel’s Envy. “We were looking for a bourbon line in general,” Shlomo S. Blashka, a wine and spirits educator at Royal, told the Times. “The Jewish community is a very big bourbon community.”

Henderson was already aware. “You’d have to be blind not to notice it,” he said. “I thought, if you had a kosher bourbon, that would be a great thing. It seemed a no-brainer.”

For Jews, the attraction to whiskey stems from their early days in the country. Mr. Blashka said Jewish immigrants to America, unable to trust the source of local wines, instead relied on certain distilled liquors, including whiskey. “Because the wine was an issue, typically spirits was their avenue for drinking,” he told the Times.

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