It's just so wrong I had to blog it. A few minutes ago, I received an email from a flavoring company. I get them periodically - there are lots of flavoring companies out there, and they often call us to try and sell their wares. Rest assured, we do not use any flavorings in any of our spirits, we only use actual ingredients. This sets us apart from most of the other spirits companies in the United States - the big brand flavored vodkas, for example, are virtually all flavored with flavorings from a lab.
So what was in this offending email? It was an introduction to a class called Grain Flavor 201. Seriously.
From our limited exposure to them, we've learned that flavor companies can engineer just about any flavor you want. They can use "natural" ingredients, to make "natural flavors," which only means they are derived from things that exist in nature (and may or may not contain any of the ingredient for the flavor you were after). For example, "natural lemon flavor" may or may not contain any part of an actual lemon (usually it doesn't, and bears more similarity to things used in floor cleaners, etc. - mmmm, tasty).
These flavor labs also create artificial flavors, which are often cheaper too - the sky's the limit on your options, if you're okay with the words "artificial flavors" on your product.
There's Grain Flavor Too?
I know spirits are flavored with these lab-created flavorings, and I've read books about how fast food companies use flavorings to make their food taste like something. But I didn't consider a grain flavor. When I shop at the local grocery store, I wasn't imagining that my breakfast cereal, and hell, even my bread are probably flavored with these things too. Wow. Welcome to the world of processed foods.
Think about that the next time you see "natural flavors added" or "artificial flavors added" on a label. As for me, I think I'm going to start having eggs for breakfast instead of cereal (organic, free-range eggs from a local farmer of course - let's not get into the egg topic).