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Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

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Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

1. I quite enjoy standard strength whiskies, and almost always purchase them over more alcoholic ones. The fact that these whiskies are usually less expensive is an added bonus.
0
No votes
2. I'm pretty flexible. Although I more often than not stick to purchasing standard strength whiskies, I will, on occasion, opt for a high proof or cask strength edition that particularly strikes my fancy.
1
3%
3. I'm very flexible when it comes to the alcohol level of specific whiskies I'm considering purchasing, and buy both standard strength as well as high proof / cask strength ones routinely.
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32%
4. I'm smitten by the high proof / cask strength 'bug', and tend to look for these sorts of whiskies over the standard strength releases.
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24%
5. I've collected and gone through so many standard strength whiskies that I now concentrate almost exclusively on the high proof / cask strength editions.
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3%
6. The whole question of a whisky's alcohol level is absolutely of secondary importance to me. Standard strength or high proof / cask strength matters not. Quality does.
14
38%
 
Total votes : 37

Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Apr 22, 2009 6:56 pm

Over the past few years, I've noticed that my whisky purchases have swung decidedly toward those releases that boast higher than normal alcohol levels or that are bottled at cask strength. I find that the merits of such spirits, not to mention the pleasure of being able to decide for myself at what level of alcohol I'll imbibe the whiskies, have become a very attractive proposition for me when it comes time to shop.

I'm also wondering how other WM members' purchasing habits vis-a-vis standard strength versus high proof / cask strength whiskies might have changed, or perhaps not.

Given the nature of No.6, you can opt for 2 responses (if this is one of them).
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby scotchdrinker » Wed Apr 22, 2009 8:35 pm

I agree with C57, I don't buy a lot of whiskies but when I do I go for something that sounds good to me from the reviews on this website. If it happens to be of higher strength great if not, thats fine too. I like a whisky no matter its strength. I will say I am intrigued by the higher strength whiskies and would like to drink more since I have not had that many of them.
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby newdad » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:09 pm

For whisky, the amount of alcohol by volume is of little importance to me. If the whisky tastes good to me, that's enough regardless of proof. However, I will say that my favorite whiskies are often bottled at slightly higher than 80 proof.

Caveat: I prefer my bourbon at at least 90 proof...for some reason 40% abv bourbon tastes pretty watered down to me.

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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:44 pm

newdad wrote:I prefer my bourbon at at least 90 proof... for some reason 40% abv bourbon tastes pretty watered down to me.

Couldn't agree more, Paul (thinking of such practically pitiful pours as 40%ABV Wild Turkey). Bourbon does seem to be so much better at a higher proof!
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Ganga » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:48 pm

For the most part, standard bottlings were 40/43% when I started - Talisker and Springbank the exceptions. I've noticed more bottlings at 46% now, especially with Sigs UCF line and Bruichladdich. I'd guess that my purchasing is roughly 50% <=46% and 50% >46% but really plays little into my purchasing the bottle.

I would also like to point two items. OMC bottles pretty much on a standard of 50% with a few bottles being slightly less than this. Cask strength whiskies are not always greater than the standard bottlings - see DT/Peerless.
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby talisker10 » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:58 am

Based on my experience with Laph 10 CS, and HP Lone Star Cask CS, I plan on looking for CS as much as I can.
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby borgom » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:13 am

The Third Dram wrote:
newdad wrote:I prefer my bourbon at at least 90 proof... for some reason 40% abv bourbon tastes pretty watered down to me.

Couldn't agree more, Paul (thinking of such practically pitiful pours as 40%ABV Wild Turkey). Bourbon does seem to be so much better at a higher proof!

I absolutely agree with this. I've not had a huge amount of bourbon but every one I've tried at or close to 40% ABV gives me the impression of being too diluted.
Generally I agree with the notion that taste/quality is more important but it's also been my experience that the flavour of most whiskies benefit from a higher ABV. I've had Glenfiddich NAS, 12 & 18, Old Pultney 12, Laphroaig 10 and Macallan 12 at 43% & 40% ABV and have always missed the extra flavour and character of those bottled at 43%.
It doesn't stop me from buying whisky at 40% ABV but I wonder why 40% is so common when 43%+ generally seems to be better. Well at least that's what I think for single malts and especially so for those that are peated. Blends however seem to be suited to a lower ABV.
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:12 pm

I like the concept of sampling a whisky at as close to the actual aged product as is possible. We are all very aware that whisky, even CS, is married with a bit of water in the vating/bottling process to bring it to a specified saleable ABV, so the actual Cask Strength, per se, is not made available generally to the purchasers.

I have found that any CS product is slightly sweeter than the standard 40% abv offerings fro mthe same distillery and if given the choice between them, I default to the CS bottling, unless I can afford to purchase both. That being said, I have a weakness for Abelour A'Bunadh and wish I had been able to acquire one of every batch.

If I am looking for a specific distillery, I will purchase whatever is available due to the limited selection we enjoy.

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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Willie JJ » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:29 pm

Muskrat Portage wrote:We are all very aware that whisky, even CS, is married with a bit of water in the vating/bottling process to bring it to a specified saleable ABV, so the actual Cask Strength, per se, is not made available generally to the purchasers.

I think that's true of some big batch distillery CS bottlings Pete, or bottlings like OMC that seem to be watered for convenience of importation to the US, but not all CS bottlings and not single cask bottlings or even the A'bunadh which has a different strength with every release.

As to the question, I think it is a no brainer. Given the choice, why would you let someone else decide how much water to add to your whisky for you? In my opinion the correct amount of added water is nearly always NONE.

Of course if I have no choice I will buy the dram at the strength at which it has been made available, but fortunately many bottlers seem to be recognising that 46% is a good place to start and CS bottles are much easier to find these days.
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Mon Apr 27, 2009 10:36 pm

Willie:
From my readings both in publications and books as well as on websites, the general perception seems to be that very little CS is sold as it truly comes from the cask. Over here, we are certainly limited in what is available and the OB bottlings are all watered down to varying degrees.

There are some IBs that I was wondering about, especially the raw Cask offerings from Blackadder which appear a first blush to be staright from the cask. In my limited experience I have found very few actual CS offerings on the market.

Remember - you live on the right side of the pond when it comes to access to whisky. Someday I'll have to track you down and have a look at your Whisky Lair. I have the feeling it would be a learning experience, and a hell of a drunk!

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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Ganga » Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:42 pm

Maybe someone with better knowledge can answer whether Blackadder adds/added any additional water in the Raw Cask bottlings? What about the Straight from the Cask bottlings?
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Willie JJ » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:00 pm

Muskrat Portage wrote:Willie:
From my readings both in publications and books as well as on websites, the general perception seems to be that very little CS is sold as it truly comes from the cask. Over here, we are certainly limited in what is available and the OB bottlings are all watered down to varying degrees.

There are some IBs that I was wondering about, especially the raw Cask offerings from Blackadder which appear a first blush to be staright from the cask. In my limited experience I have found very few actual CS offerings on the market.

Ok, I was really talking only about the bottling strength which i think with many/most CS bottlings (especially single cask) is unadjusted. When it comes to a stricter definition of straight from cask, I don't think there are any bottles that genuinely contain such stuff. All bottlers use a barrier filter to remove unwanted detritis from the whisky, (charcoal, dirt, dead mice, etc.). I understand, (but am prepared to be corrected), that Blackadder also use barrier filtration in the Raw Cask series and then add back some of the charcoal afterwards. That's what I hear anyway.

Muskrat Portage wrote:Someday I'll have to track you down and have a look at your Whisky Lair. I have the feeling it would be a learning experience, and a hell of a drunk!

Not sure about the learning experience, but you're most welcome to come and have a dram or fifty :D
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby Wave » Tue Apr 28, 2009 11:39 pm

I have to agree with Willie. Around here at least I've enjoyed a nice assortment of whiskies, not so much of OB's that never have been all that plentiful on this side of the pond but of IB's. Sorry, but I don't hold OB's at a higher esteem than most here do, my love is for IB's thanks to a plentiful supply of around my neck of the woods. I've been tasting cask strengths since the early 90's when I first discovered Signatory and later in the mid 90's when I discovered Cadenhead. I've gotten to the point (years ago) that when I try another distillery for the 1st time I want their whisky straight from the wood i.e. single barrel cask strength (I'll add any water it may need myself) so I can taste it's real style and I'll reach for an IB (Cadenhead, Signatory, Scott's Selection, etc) over an OB any day! My perception of cask strength whisky is when the bottler like Cadenhead or Scott's Selection states that the whisky has not been diluted and free of all additives I would have to take their word for it or their reputation would would find them running with Macallan! :o


Cheers!
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby borgom » Wed Apr 29, 2009 2:00 am

Willie JJ wrote:.....dead mice, etc.....

What the :shock: eeeeeiiiwwwww!!!!!!! :yuk:
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Re: Standard strength or high proof / cask strength?

Postby dramtastic » Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:31 am

I have favorites in both camps and in between as well(OMCs at 50%).
I will say this though, I would rather be able to buy my lower proof faves at a cask strenth than the other way around.
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