One of my colleagues made the remark to me today that all whiskies seem to have the same color. In fact most blended whiskies and, unfortunately, a large number of single malts indeed contain (artificial) colorant, usually caramel. The idea behind it is twofold:
1- First of all, blended whisky producers will certainly aim to offer a consistent product (taste, presentation and color) at all times. This consistency makes that people come back again and again for the same product. And as different casks of spirit present a different natural color after maturation, a coloring agent is used at the moment of bottling. I don't see anything wrong with that as such for blended whiskies. Although there is a growing tendency to overdo it;
2- The second reason is that lots of people think that darker whisky (gold color) is better or older than lighter colored spirit. This is absolutely not true. In fact that's why Single Malts that do not contain any colorant are usually sold in green bottles to " hide" the lighter color from the potential buyers.
As I can understand and appreciate the reasons of presenting blended whiskies as a consistent product, I do not agree with adding colorant to Single Malts. I think the true value of Single Malts is the unique combination of distillery characteristics, region of production, water and barley used, craftsmanship, wood and what have you more that in the end determines the individual end product that is called Single Malt. Therefore I believe that different colors for different Single Malts should be allowed to exist.