Life & Culture

Meet the Jews distilling top kosher Scotch

Duo who met as teens as leaders at B’nei Akiva are now making award-winning kosher whisky


Danny Saltman fell in love with whisky as a boy. It was an illicit affair.

“I’d watch my Zeide Michael reading his copy of the JC with his whisky and eating a green apple and I’d beg him for a taste.

Of course, he’d never let me have any, but one day he must have left it alone and I grabbed it and downed a whole shot.”

The eight-year-old Saltman, who grew up in Woodford and attended King Solomon’s High, was immediately violently sick and received a cuff around the ear from his horrified mother.

“I can still taste that first whisky, the same as I can taste the leather I chewed on at Golan Heights Winery when I was learning about wine tasting,” he smiles.

He confesses that years later he would help himself to whisky from his father’s cabinet before heading out with the boys. The love was real.

So passionate are Saltman and his commercial partner, Saul Taylor, about the golden nectar, they’ve created two businesses based around it.

As Dalkeith Brokerage they trade whisky casks.

The business was born after the pair, who originally met in their teens as leaders at B’nei Akiva more than 20 years ago but had fallen out of touch, bumped into one another at a wedding.

At the time, Saltman was employed by another cask-trading company, while former Hasmonean boy Taylor, had just finished working as an equities trader at a hedge fund.

“The fund had closed, and I was deciding what to do next,” he says.

After testing the water trading for himself, Taylor became interested in doing it professionally, and he combined his experience with Saltman’s alcohol industry networks, built over the years since he’d started work aged 16.

“After school, I’d dropped out of yeshiva and gone on to pick grapes at the Golan Heights Winery, but then came back here to work for one of their distributors,” he explains.

He learned about the wine trade with them for five years before starting work at The Grapevine off-licence in Hendon.

"I left to set up my own kosher off-licence called The Wine Man before going to work for Kedem Europe doing wine education and selling into trade and shops.”

The second business they’ve formed together is as independent bottlers, DS Tayman — a portmanteau of their first and surnames. Making their own whisky was a natural progression.

For newbies to the whisky world, independent bottlers are smaller companies who buy casks of distilled whisky from larger distilleries and age it further in their own casks — a process called re-racking.

The flavours within whisky develop from a combination of the wood within which it is matured and flavours from the previous contents of those barrels.

A whisky maker can produce their own blend by curating the casks within which the whisky matures. “The maturation process is when the magic happens” says Saltman.

Saltman and Taylor explain that only after it has spent more than three years in a cask, can the newly distilled spirit be termed whisky.

“It’s called ‘new make spirit’ before this point and is totally clear, like water. It gets the golden tones from being in the wood,” explains Saltman.

When it comes to the flavour of the whisky, as all Scotch whisky-making barrels (under UK law) must be made from oak, the point of difference will be in the previous contents of the barrel.

And these contents will also influence whether a whisky is kosher.

“There are differing views regarding the kashrut of whisky.

"Many rabbis, particularly in America and Israel, are of the view that whisky that has been matured in whisky casks that had previously held non-kosher alcohol are not kosher.

DS Tayman aims to give Jewish consumers the ability to drink high-quality Scotch whilst at the same time adhering to the highest standards of kashrut,” explains Taylor.

So DS Tayman’s whiskies, which are heschered by the KLBD and American kosher licensing authority Orthodox Union (OU), are matured in a range of oak barrels sourced from kosher winemakers and distillers.

The pair have travelled the world sourcing the barrels, which are then transferred from the wineries.

These have included Israeli wineries Golan Heights, Tulip and Flam and a top Bordeaux winemaker whose name they prefer not to disclose at this stage.

“We also have port, tequila and rum barrels stored for the future ready for us to experiment,” says Saltman.

He explains that they have limited time to transport and fill them as the wine starts to oxidise and turn sulphurous.

A shomer must supervise each stage of this process. Once in the barrels, the whisky is sampled every six to eight weeks until they are happy with the flavour, which can take 36 months or more. It’s then bottled — the only way Scotch whisky can leave Scotland— then sold.

To date, they have produced whisky from barrels previously used by Flam, Tulip and Galil Mountain wineries as well as the Bordeaux one.

They have won four awards at the World Whiskies Awards, judged blind by an expert panel, including gold and best in class for their Caol Ila Tulip edition.

Eager to inspire, the pair run whisky-tasting workshops. “We do one called Journey of the Dram, in which we take the same whisky at different stages of maturity —five or six drams — from new make spirit to fully matured,” says Saltman.

The JC and DS Tayman are offering four readers the chance to win a tasting for them and up to 19 friends. Visit for competition details

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