Is Whisky Vegan?
The short answer - yes. Whisky is plant-based and vegan. It is made up of only three main ingredients: grain, yeast and water. Much it's flavour is imparted by the type of cask used - ex-sherry, ex-bourbon or fresh oak, for example. In fact, most spirits are free from any animal-derived substances.
The only whisky products that you should look out for that are not vegan are: any flavoured with honey - especially prevalent in whisky liqueurs. And also, whisky cream liqueurs such as Baileys, which are made with dairy cream. Although, Bailey's have recently released an almond milk version, Bailey's Almande, and you can find many other non-dairy alternatives of this delectable treat.
The filtration process is what makes some wines, beers and ciders a no-go for vegans. Some use animal products to filter their liquid, using a variety of ingredients from egg whites to bone marrow, in order to complete their process in the traditional manner. This leaves fine traces in the end product. For example, many real ales are filtered through isinglass, a substance acquired from fish bladders (one of the most common animal products in alcohol production), to give the drink its clear appearance.
Even when whisky is filtered, however, it is done so through a process called chill filtration. This is undertaken by some brands in order to prevent any clouding in the liquid. To avoid it, any oils present are removed by cooling the liquid to a level in which they clump together and can be easily filtered through a metal mesh. No animal products required!
To learn about distilleries that are going the extra mile in their sustainability efforts: read here.