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.