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At which strength should a rare cask be bottled?

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At which strength should a rare cask be bottled?

Cask Strength
28
80%
50%
2
6%
46%
4
11%
43%
1
3%
40%
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 35

Postby Admiral » Sat Dec 18, 2004 11:33 pm

A rare cask is exactly that - rare!

It should be savoured and enjoyed for what it is, and at the natural strength it happens to be.

I appreciate the point that if it was watered down, more bottlings could be made and that would increase the number of people able to enjoy it, but then that would defeat the point of it being a rare cask, wouldn't it!

OMC have obviously thought hard about this and decided that 50% offers them the best outcome. Not too many other bottlers have followed suit.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Dec 19, 2004 2:49 am

Yes, I agree with Admiral, but I would bottle it at natural cask strength and if the bottler is wants to make it more available here can always bottle some miniatures.
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Postby Stephen » Sun Dec 19, 2004 3:15 am

Only Cask Strength!

Cask Strength doesn't mean high concentration, old cask's cask strength may be just at 42%, young cask's cask strength may be 60% above, but a rare cask must be bottle at Cask Strength!
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Postby /george » Sun Dec 19, 2004 11:35 am

Full strength.

You are free then to reduce it according to your personal taste. The reverse isn't possible.
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Postby hpulley » Sun Dec 19, 2004 4:59 pm

I agree with the above. Full strength. If it needs to go to more people then they can sell 5cL, 20cL, 35cL bottles so there are more containers to go around.

More and more I appreciate cask strength so I can enjoy it at full strength or experiment with it on my own.

Harry
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Postby Rudy » Mon Dec 20, 2004 12:28 am

The question is easy. Cask strength only for the rare (single cask) bottlings.

Some thoughts on the issues brought up:

- If you do not want to pay too much for a whisky, try tap water. Most whiskies consist of at least 40% water. But seriously: there are a lot of great whiskies available for affordable prices. Rarer and therefore usually older whiskies simply have a higher cost price.

- I agree that nicer or rarer whiskies should be accessable to a lot of people, but I never came accross that rare 1 billion litre cask of Bowmore 1968 that sold for EUR 25,- a bottle.
Be honest, would you pay EUR 20,- for a mini if you'd knew this is a great whisky?
Or pay a fair price (but still a lot of money) for a whisky that is reduced to 40%, but has a mediocre taste?
With, say 100 bottles at 60% you could have alternatively 120 bottles at 50% or 150 bottles at 40%. At 40% you have 50% more bottles, but from a single cask, you still can not serve the global market with plenty rare whisky.
Suppose the 60% bottle cost 150,-. To get the same turnover for the bottler (ignore bottling cost etc) the 50% would cost 125 and the 40% bottle would cost 100.
Would you accept a 33.3% price discount if you'd choose 40% instead of cask strength? Or put it another way: would you buy a Ferrari with 33.3% discount and only get the first gear working, ever?
I do understand your considerations though, IMOprices of whisky bottlings are raising at a scaringly high rate.

- You can not destroy a character at cask strength, only by watering down too much.
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Postby Admiral » Mon Dec 20, 2004 3:41 am

Well, I'd say the results of the poll are fairly conclusive! 9 out of 10 in favour of natural strength, at the time of posting!

Admiral
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Postby Tom » Mon Dec 20, 2004 7:43 pm

aye, im the one that said 50%,
Based on the fact that many Cask strength whiskys are overpowering. and if they bottle it at CS your not likely to water it down to 50% because you trust the distillers choice. But the most complex whiskys i tasted were rarely at Cask strength, almost always unchill filtered and bottled at about 46 to 50%.(There are exeptions like Speyburn 21). Therefore i prefer complexity over punch.
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Postby Rudy » Mon Dec 20, 2004 11:29 pm

Hi Tom,

I understand your point of view, but I came across some whiskies that were already below 50% when coming out of the cask...

So, maybe you could reconsider? :wink:

Just kidding, you should enjoy your dram just the way you do!

Cheers,

Rudy.
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Postby Tom » Tue Dec 21, 2004 6:23 pm

naturally, if it drops below 50% i'd say at full strength.
im a bit suprised i stand alone on this one.
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Postby Aidan » Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:30 pm

I suppose you could bottle a proportion of it as cask strength and the rest at 40 or 43 percent so more people could enjoy it. Just a though. I wonder if this is ever done - I doubt it.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 03, 2005 7:09 pm

There are 50cl, 35cl, and 20cl bottles if you want to widen availability and keep price down.

Tom, if you find a cs overpowering, water it. Surely some will find it overpowering at 50% or even 43% and will have no qualms about doing same. At least if you bottle at cs, you have the choice, plus the experience of the whisky straight from the cask. Once you dilute it, that opportunity is lost.
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Feb 04, 2005 8:29 pm

Oh oh, you're going to attract the attention of team no water. :D
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Postby Tom » Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:09 pm

Have you tryed to water down a Cask strength whisky to 50%? i did and the results are unwanted. The way i experienced it with various whiskys, a CS dram with some water will open up, but the alcohol remains, nobody waters down his dram to lets say 45 to 50%, i mean whats the point in getting a CS dram then? so more flavors and deffinatly more aromas will arrise (sometimes at the cost of flavors) but an overpowering CS whisky will remain alcoholic and cloak many flavors, sometimes even unbalance an entire dram just by too much alcohol. while at 50% some might be alcoholic still, yes, but the most of them arent, and most 50% drams have more complexity then the CS ones.
Dont get this wrong ok, i do love CS whisky; but i prefer a rare single cask dram to be complex instead of strong. there are more then enough CS whiskys around for when i need punch.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 07, 2005 7:25 am

Lawrence wrote:Oh oh, you're going to attract the attention of team no water. :D


Lawrence, I almost never use water. But the option is open to any who so choose.

Tom, I don't understand the point of your post. If you dilute a cask strength whisky to 50%, how does "the alcohol remain"? How does that differ from what Laing does with its OMC bottlings? I don't get your objection at all.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Feb 07, 2005 3:36 pm

Perhaps Tom is referring to a phenomenon I have observed myself. A cask strength whisky watered down, even with decent spring water, often seems like a very weak dram, much weaker than a cask which was watered down at the time of bottling. The water can release some aromas but generally, it dilutes it without perhaps getting rid of the sometimes overpowering alcohol smells on no-age cask strength bottlings which can be a little spirity. An experiment might be to pour off some cask strength into a smaller bottle, add water and allow the mixture to 'age' a bit to see if you can get as good a result at lower drinking strength than by buying 46% or 50% bottlings.

I rarely add any water but last week I was having some heartburn so I watered down my drams fairly heavily so I could enjoy them. I had Lagavulin 12yo CS 57.8%, Bruichladdich Fullstrength 13yo 57.1% and Ardbeg 46% all watered down fairly well (the first two clouded up well but the Ardbeg didn't cloud up at all, strangely, with the addition of cold spring water). I also had Laphroaig 10yo 40% and Ardbeg 17yo 43% which I didn't water down as they were low enough not to irritate my stomach.

The whiskies are VERY different when adding water and I still don't really like the effect, especially on the cask strength Lagavulin. The only one that I'd say actually improved was the Bruichladdich because I just opened the bottle and it still has a few sharp acidic notes which are perhaps best left behind. The Ardbeg nose gave a few new notes but the body is quite weak, which is what I wanted at the time but not usually what I desire.

Last night I had Bruichladdich 46% without water. Tonight I think I'll try 49% without water before delving into the full proof stuff again.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon Feb 07, 2005 7:58 pm

Thanks for the explanation, Harry. I guess I don't understand the phenomenon because I rarely use water. Maybe it's a lack of sophistication in tasting on my part, but I don't really experience the "opening up" that many people describe--just dilution. I think maybe I would benefit from a tutored tasting on the subject.
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Postby hpulley » Mon Feb 07, 2005 8:04 pm

Tutored tastings are what really got me into scotch. I'd had it on the rocks a few times and forced a bottle of The Glenlivet 12yo down but until I had tutored tastings for a few years I wasn't really ready to know what to buy for myself. Water was always used but we always tried it neat first. Usually I don't add water these days except at tastings and in unusual circumstances such as last week.

Harry
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Postby Bullie » Thu Feb 10, 2005 2:12 pm

This is quite obvius to me anyhow..
A rare cask should be CS (Since the span of CS ranges from 40-60+). If it could be! Sometimes casks don't have enough ABV to be released as a single cask.
One example is a Bunnahabhain from the 60's where they had to vat seven casks to end up with a released strenght at 42.9% to make it an approved Single Malt!

I'f you want a rare malt, leave it untouched. No chill-filtration and perhaps even as a raw cask... Why bother to relase a 'rare' if it applies to everyone? Shouldn't a 'rare' be some sort of exclusive bottle for collectors?
Last edited by Bullie on Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby hpulley » Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:01 pm

Vatting underproof whiskies to get to 40% is not legal, actually. Anything under 40% is not whisky and vatting whisky with non-whisky yields non-whisky. Andrew Laing has told sob stories about some of the old casks which have gone down the drain for precisely that reason.

Harry
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Postby Bullie » Thu Feb 10, 2005 4:32 pm

hpulley wrote:Vatting underproof whiskies to get to 40% is not legal, actually. Anything under 40% is not whisky and vatting whisky with non-whisky yields non-whisky. Andrew Laing has told sob stories about some of the old casks which have gone down the drain for precisely that reason.

Harry


The page 67 of Michael Jackson's CGTSMS (5th edition) reads as follows:
'In 2003, for the Islay Festival, the Bunnahabhain distillery bottled seven hogshead that had been filled in 1963. Evaporation had taken one or two to below 40 per cent alcohol, the legal minimum for whisky. When all had been checked, it was dtermined that a vatting of the seven would produce a bottling at 42.9 volume.'

The whisky is released and is accepted as a single malt...
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:04 pm

Harry, if you can put water in it to bring it down to 43%, then why not 38% "non-whisky"? Anyway, the standard was at 37.2% in the UK in the period between the WW's.

I'm not clear whether the 40% standard is a matter of law, or SWA practice. Anyone know?
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Postby hpulley » Thu Feb 10, 2005 8:21 pm

The draino stories had me thinking it was law but perhaps not. IANAL at any rate... Just repeating what I've heard from what I thought were good sources.

Harry
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Feb 11, 2005 1:42 am

This is an interesting question; I will try and see if I can come up with a definite answer by scouting through my various books.
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Postby Bullie » Fri Feb 11, 2005 5:07 pm

All I can find, is that your not allowed to sell a whisky below 40 per cent volume, according to The Scotch Whisky Act 1988.

'The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and The European Spirits Definition Regulation both specify a minimum alcoholic strength of 40 per cent by volume, which applies to all Scotch Whisky bottled and/or put up for sale within or exported from the EU.'

More about whiskylaws on:
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880022_en_1.htm

And also The Scotch Whisky Order 1990:
http://www.hmso.gov.uk/si/si1990/Uksi_19900998_en_1.htm
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Feb 15, 2005 9:47 pm

This is from the Scotch Whisky Act:

In other words, Scotch Whisky which falls below 40% vol as a result of long maturation still qualifies in all respects
with the "Definition of Scotch Whisky". However it may not be sold at a strength below 40% vol. This means, in effect,
that it must be blended with Scotch Whisky of higher alcoholic strength before it can be sold, so that the strength
reaches a minimum of 40%. This will probably mean that it must be blended with younger Scotch Whisky, and so will
only be entitled to claim the age of the youngest whisky.

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Postby hpulley » Tue Feb 15, 2005 9:49 pm

Very interesting and I will have to ask Andrew about it next time I see him in a chat room in case I misunderstood his anecdote.

Harry
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