“Cask Strength” vs. Bottle Strength
October 6, 2011 § 13 Comments
I had this conversation with a distiller the other day and I was surprised (and perhaps ignorant / stuck in a bubble / etc…) that what I thought was “common knowledge” is, in fact, not.
Do whisky and spirit drinkers really understand the difference between Cask Strength & Bottle Strength whiskies? Furthermore, do they know what to do with a cask strength whisky?
This distiller thinks that people still need to be educated on the matter. I, however, think that consumers know the difference and know how to enjoy them. Perhaps I am wrong … what do you think?
CASK STRENGTH 101
Just to clear up any confusion, doubt or appease any general curiousities, I’ve outlined the key points that I think are important to know about this high-powered spirit. Fellow bloggers & whisky enthusiasts, I invite you to chime in, please.
1) WHAT: Cask Strength is the whisky straight from the cask. No water added. Typically in the 55%-60% abv range (double those numbers to know the proof) vs. the more common 40%-45% abv of most bottled whiskies.
2) WHY: Bottling whiskies at Cask Strength is typically reserved for the upper premium whiskies. This is more expensive for both the producer and the consumer because the product is more concentrated and the distiller get’s fewer number of bottles to sell out of a single cask. You, the consumer, get more whisky (same volume, but more actual whisky).
3) BENEFIT: What’s great about having a cask strength whisky is that you then get to take over and play “blender” by controlling the amount of water you add in your glass.
4) HOW TO: Let me repeat myself, you (the consumer) get to add the amount of water you would like instead of having this pre-done by the distiller. If you have the pleasure of tasting a cask strength whisky, make sure you know what to expect. This is going to be much stronger than what you’re used to (unless you make it a habit to drink these, in which case, my hat’s off to you). Essentially, you’re buying whole spices here, not the pre-ground McCormick shaker. Proceed excitedly with educated caution.