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The Straight Goods on Cask Strength

No enhancements. No dilution. Cask strength whiskies result from a mix of their core elements — the quality of the spirit and the character of the cask.

If you’re a whisky purist, cask strength whisky is a must-try. You could say it’s the most authentic expression of the spirit, influenced only by the barrel’s qualities and the passing of time — no enhancements or dilution. While most standard label whiskies aim for relative consistency, cask strength offerings promise a unique experience every time. There’s something to be said for the distinct character each cask strength whisky offers, as no two barrels will ever be the same. 

 

TRUE STRENGTH

When a whisky is initially produced and stored in barrels or casks, it typically carries an alcohol content of 60 to 75%. Robust, definitely. Aging reduces this number slightly, and then most whiskies are diluted with water before bottling, bringing the alcohol by volume (ABV) count down to a more approachable 40%. Cask strength takes a more direct — and less diluted — route from barrel to bottle. The resulting spirit registers somewhere between 50 and 65% ABV.

 

BLEND TO YOUR LIKING

Cask strength whiskies are distinct, so there are a few tips to enjoying them to their fullest. Start by pouring a dram neat, if only to note the differences between this and a standard whisky. That first bracing sip will establish a baseline measure for the tasting to come. Now add just a few drops of water to open up the fragrances and flavours. The fun of cask strength whisky comes in being able to be the blender — you have the ability to control the level of dilution. For a slower reveal, add an ice cube and try to detect how the character gradually changes as it melts.

 


 

START EXPLORING

 

Tamdhu Batch Strength Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

This special edition is the first of its kind from Tamdhu. Bottled at 58.8% ABV and aged in sherry casks, it is an intense combination of caramel and nut aromas that precede an unveiling of sweeter fruit, vanilla and cocoa, accented by spice and hazelnut.

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Stagg Jr.

A showstopper of a straight bourbon, it has alluring brown sugar and chocolate sweetness that sits in perfect contrast to the powerful rye spice that builds on the palate. The fade is long and luscious, with cherry, clove and a faint smokiness.

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West Cork Cask Strength Irish Whiskey

A blended cask strength (62% ABV) release that combines grain and malt Irish whiskeys, it is aged in first fill bourbon casks and finished in Irish whiskey casks. Enticingly smooth, the resulting spirit shows upfront floral and sweet notes underscored by a lingering accent of spice. 

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