Cask Strength Explained

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Cask strength mean nothing to you? Well we're about to give you a whiskey education.

Cask strength, also known as barrel proof or natural strength, refers to the alcohol content of a whisky as it comes straight out of the cask. This is in contrast to the majority of whiskies on the market, which are diluted with water before bottling to reduce their alcohol content.

The process of making whisky involves distilling a fermented mash of grains to create a high-proof alcohol called "new make" or "white dog." This new make is then aged in oak barrels, where it takes on the flavors and colors of the wood. The length of time the whisky is aged and the type of barrel used can have a significant impact on its flavor and character.

When a whisky is ready to be bottled, it is usually diluted with water to reduce its alcohol content to a more palatable level. Most whiskies are bottled at around 40% alcohol by volume (ABV), although some may be bottled at higher or lower strengths.

Cask strength whiskies, on the other hand, are bottled at the same strength as they were when they came out of the cask. This means they can be significantly higher in alcohol than standard bottled whiskies, often ranging from 50-60% ABV or even higher.

One of the key benefits of cask strength whiskies is that they retain more of the flavour and character of the original new make. Because they are not diluted with water, they can be richer and more complex in flavour, with more depth and intensity.

Cask strength whiskies can also be more versatile than standard bottled whiskies. Because they are not diluted, they can be drunk neat or on the rocks, or they can be diluted to the desired strength with water. This allows the drinker to customize the strength and flavour of their whisky to their personal preferences.

Another benefit of cask strength whiskies is that they tend to be limited editions or small-batch productions. This means they can be more exclusive and sought-after than standard bottled whiskies, which can be mass-produced.

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However, cask strength whiskies also have some drawbacks. Because they are not diluted, they can be too strong for some people to drink neat. They can also be more expensive than standard bottled whiskies, as the production process is more complex and time-consuming.

Overall, cask strength whiskies offer a unique and interesting option for whisky lovers who want to experience the full flavor and character of the original new make. While they may not be for everyone, they can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience for those who are interested in trying something different.