Mashke Goes Mainstream

Kashrus Kurrents, Spring 2023

In the last year, STAR-K certified a host of iconic brands in the alcoholic beverages category from almost all the way around the globe: from the green pastures of Kentucky, to the shores of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor; crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the Emerald Isle, Ireland; and completing the journey in Italy. These newly kosher-certified brands include selected products from Baltimore’s own Sagamore spirits; Wild Turkey and Skyy Vodka; Bailey’s Irish Cream Original (STAR-D Dairy, non-cholov Yisroel); and Frangelico, all of whom have joined the STAR-K Family just this year.

Kosher certification for spirits addresses a number of serious issues that have cropped up, as the industry has globalized and consolidated operations. Growing use of additives and processing aids that need certification – such as flavor chemicals, glycerin and the use of shared transportation bottling lines with dairy and non-kosher products – makes kosher certification more and more relevant, even in product categories that once were less problematic. In addition, the increasingly common practice of first-fill aging of whiskey in former wine and cognac barrels further complicates an already challenging matter.

The craft distilling and brewing industry presents an exciting twist on a product category that was once simple from a kosher perspective but now present new challenges that stem directly from these new trends. The addition of juices, vegetables, flavors – even seafood and bacon! – creates all kinds of havoc for the kosher consumer, who at one time could treat a simple beer or whiskey as kosher as a bottle of water.

As the production of spirits and cordials gets more complex, consumer demand for kosher certification on alcoholic beverages grows every day. No longer are consumer and kosher agencies satisfied with lists and hearsay; they want the confidence of a kosher certificate and kosher symbol before choosing their drinks of choice. In the cordials area, which has always required certification, the growing demand from kosher consumers has been noticed by major companies; they have reacted by seeking out kosher certification, so their products can grace the tables of kosher homes and at kosher-certified establishments and events.

In addition, Israeli food labeling regulations have also created a demand for kosher certification to allow companies to expand their export business to Israel, a market with growing demand for the world’s finest brands. STAR-K Israel, led by Rabbi Aharon Haskel, has been instrumental in helping kosher consumers worldwide get access to an ever-increasing number of kosher-certified alcoholic beverages, including Glenmorangie, Johnny Walker, Smirnoff and Tanqueray, all of which bear a STAR-K symbol when distributed in Israel.

Here is a partial list of newly STAR-K certified major brands (visit STAR-K’s Beer, Liquor and Liqueur Listing page for exact products and conditions):

  • Spirits: Casamigos Tequila, Don Julio Tequila, Sagamore Spirits, SKYY Vodka and Infusions, Tres Mujeres Tequila, Tequila Volcan de Mi Tierra Tequila, Wild Turkey (American Whisky, Bourbon, Rye)
  • Cordials: Bailey’s Irish Cream Original (STAR-D Dairy, Non-Cholov Yisroel), Frangelico Liqueur, Pallini Limoncello Liqueur