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Cask Strength?

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

How do you compare your experience with cask-strength and standard-strength bottlings?

I have come to prefer cask-strength whiskies, and find standard-strength whiskies unsatisfying.
10
21%
I enjoy cask-strength and standard-strength whiskies pretty much equally, depending on the whisky, of course.
30
63%
I prefer standard-strength whiskies, and avoid cask-strength ones or water them heavily.
3
6%
My position on this issue is one your tiny mind has not conceived of.
5
10%
 
Total votes : 48

Cask Strength?

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:35 am

Harry mentioned on another thread that, in revisiting Lagavulin 16, he found it rather tame, at least in part because he had become accustomed to cask-strength whiskies in the years since he had first encountered it. That rang a bell with me--I have a lot of cask-strength bottles open, and often enough, when I open a bottle at 40%, I find it weak and watery. Have cask-strength whiskies spoiled you for OB's of standard strength?

(Standard strength would be 40%, 43%, 46% at the upper limit; of course some will find 46% fairly strong, and some cask-strength bottlings are considerably weaker than, say, an Old Malt Cask at 50%. Such are the vagaries of one-size-fits-all polling. Answer as best you can.)
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:43 am

Good poll - and one I haven't seen before!
I wen't with the second option. It doesn't really matter to me if it's a standard 40% or a cask strength. Some seem very straight forward at cask strenght and some can be "harsh" at 40% . Water (or saliva) is an option if a cask strength whisky is tough on the palate.
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Postby TheLaddie » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:55 am

I have indeed come to prefer cask strength whiskies, although I still find many normal strength whiskies satisying.
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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:27 am

I have found many advantages to cask strength whiskies:
1) It's generally better whisky. The good ones are usually cask strength...single cask, small batch, limited edition, special edition, unchillfiltered, etc.
2) Lasts longer in an opened bottled
3) I can dilute to my liking depending on the whisky, the proof and how tired my palate is
4) The whisky opens up over the drinking session, allowing me to have a more dynamic tasting experience. It's almost like drinking a living dram. Helps me to identify everything by the time the dram is gone.

I can't think of any real disadvantages, although I can say that I regularly drink Lagavulin, Ardbeg TEN, Talisker 10yo, Laphroaig 15yo and Laphroaig 10yo with no complaints.
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Postby peergynt323 » Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:35 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:Some seem very straight forward at cask strength and some can be "harsh" at 40%.


Ardbeg Uigeadail only needs a few drops of water before it becomes dangerously smooth for me and Johnny Walker Red is harsh at 40%.
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Postby Wave » Tue Apr 03, 2007 2:43 am

I prefer cask strength whiskies because it gives me the option of whether I add water or not and not what someone else deems as a drinkable proof.


Cheers!
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Postby Admiral » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:24 am

I have found many advantages to cask strength whiskies:
1) It's generally better whisky. The good ones are usually cask strength...single cask, small batch, limited edition, special edition, unchillfiltered, etc.


I think that's a great point. To me, whisky at 40% does now seem a little tame and thin these days, but I'm sure it's because I drink a lot of cask strength whisky that not only hasn't been chillfiltered, but usually is from a cherry-picked single cask.

Cheers,
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Postby cwtrotter » Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:36 am

Good poll. There are exceptions, but for the most part, cask strength is my preference as it seems to coat my mouth with more vibrant flavors.
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Postby killerwhale » Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:37 am

my experience is limited compared to many though I find aslong as a whisky has good depth of flavor it does not matter that much.... sometimes a higher ABV helps give a whisky that extra 'punch' needed to take it to new heights though as mentioned, depth of flavor is for me, the key to happiness in a glass 8)
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Postby les taylor » Tue Apr 03, 2007 8:47 am

MR T very clever for one that confesses to not liking to vote on a poll, you have got us all voting. Will you vote on your own poll I wonder?

Like the majority of others I voted for option 2. This sometimes because of your mood and you fancy something with a kick. On the otherhand I'm sure some whiskies would be ruined if they were stronger. The higher alchol content masking the subtleties of the drink.

My conclusion is that I do enjoy cask strength whiskies. Also very much ordinary strength. If I come across something watery that I don't like I then avoid it. For instance G&M's Connoiseur's Choice Ardbeg. :(




:)
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Postby Leither » Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:49 am

Good poll Mr T!

Only a year or so into my whisky journey I'm already starting to shun the normal strength stuff in favour of cask strength bottles. I'd also go as far as saying that I tend to avoid the 40-43% expressions and only plump for the 46% un-chillfiltered when I buy anything that isn't cask strength.

When I go back to my diminishing standard strength bottles I tend to find them bland and uninteresting compared to the CS ones. I tend to only go for a standard bottling now if I haven't had a dram for a few days (say 5-7 days) and build up from there.

I feel I get much more flavour and depth from the CS stuff and can water down to my preferred strength if needs be, but I tend not to add more than a few drops. I compare a CS malt to a standard dram as similar to having the amplifier plugged into a guitar.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:53 am

It seriously depends on the whisky. AS you say Mr-T a cask strength can be smoother than a 40% standard bottle eventhough the abv is much higher.

The bottle of HP I have at te moment is actually a perfect example of this. It is as smooth and as easy to drink at 51.8% and much smoother than either the 12 or 18yo. However my last bottle of HP which was 55.5% or something was a brute (even if it was a wonderful brute). However there are some quite harsh 40-46% bottles out there.

But I don't particularly go with the idea that cask strength is better.

I find better whisk(e)y is better :wink:
Last edited by irishwhiskeychaser on Tue Apr 03, 2007 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby hpulley » Tue Apr 03, 2007 12:59 pm

I much prefer cask strength whiskies or at least 46% UCF! Sometimes I wonder if it is the chill filtering that really kills it? 3% ABV should not even be noticable but comparing some like last night's CF Laga 16yo 43% to UCF Auld Reekie 12yo 46%, the latter was much more flavorful and vibrant. Another example of sister casks of Bladnoch recently, one at 43% CF and the other at 56.1% CS (and obviously UCF) which was, as Wendy put it, like the 43% one "on steriods".

That said, I do buy some regular strength whiskies too when I must and some are still enjoyable even at 40-43% so I had to check the 2nd option above. I live in Canada where beggars can't always be choosers. The other night I chose to buy Laga 16 when I could have got the CS as people were commenting about the Laga 16 no longer being satisfying. From the first taste of it I'd say so far that they're right, it is no longer the great Laaaagaaaaavuuuuuliiiiiiiiinnnn that it once was but to reiterate my own and Mr. T's theories it is more likely the fact that you couldn't get a cask strength islay in Canada at all back then.

In fact, at the time I remember preferring 43% to 40% :D 46% UCF was a revelation when it hit our shores. I don't think I had a cask strength whisky until I joined An Quaich which had one every month or two for us to sample.

Harry
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Postby Lawrence » Tue Apr 03, 2007 3:43 pm

I like both but I have found that when I like a cask strength whisky it's a single cask offering and I find that fact alone can often make the difference whether to add water or not. Naturally in this situation it's NCF and again that makes a difference.

I don't consider Macallan or Glenfarclas Cask Strenght to be actual CS whiskies because they've been messed around with and there ABV level set at an artificial level for marketing (but they could still taste good despite this).

I have a lot of experience SMWS bottlings and standard OB's at 40-43% and have never considered the latter to be weak.

I voted for the last option because of the 'tiny mind' reference, just on the terroir principle.
Last edited by Lawrence on Wed Apr 04, 2007 2:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby kljostad » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:40 pm

As most of you say, it depends on the whisky. Many of the most exciting whiskies come as cask strength, but many of my favourite bottlings are still at 40%.

peergynt323 sums it up brilliantly in his post.
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Postby bamber » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:44 pm

Given the choice I'd rather have everything at natural strength. However, I often feel guilty about watering whisky, even when I feel it needs it, so sometimes the bottlers do me a favour, by selling it at lower strength.

However standard strength should be 46% IMO, not 40%.
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Postby Scotchio » Tue Apr 03, 2007 4:47 pm

Sometimes, when it suits the whisky, I like standard strength simply for the convenience of not messing around with water. Ideally though 46 to 50% are good because I can add a dash of water to open the nose and still not lose too much feel and impact.
I much prefer cask strength for sherried malts though as water often detracts from the feel which is such a big part of sherry cask whisky.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:08 pm

Lawrence wrote:I voted for the last option because of the 'tiny mind' reference, just on the terrior principle.


Oh, "terrior"! I thought you said "terroir". Never mind!

--Would that be a Scotch Terrior?
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Apr 03, 2007 10:19 pm

MrTattieHeid wrote:
Lawrence wrote:I voted for the last option because of the 'tiny mind' reference, just on the terrior principle.


Oh, "terrior"! I thought you said "terroir". Never mind!

--Would that be a Scotch Terrior?

:lol:
I have a Welsh Terrior. No joke, I really do! They are the cask strength version of dogs. I should have called him Penderyn.
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Cask or watered?

Postby Muskrat Portage » Tue Apr 03, 2007 11:11 pm

I voted selection two being a bit of a fence sitter, I guess. It's the same old saw; you buy what's available. There is a better chance of the LCBO or the MLCC bringing in 40% abv and the CS selections are few and far between. You grab 'em when they appear.
Now, for dramming, I prefer the CS neat and really find the nuances and flavours pop out strongly, after the initial tongue numbness passes. I do enjoy some of the standard bottlings but when I feel like a great dram, I go with a CS.
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Postby Reggaeblues » Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:47 am

"However standard strength should be 46% IMO" -Bamber

Hey! I,like,SOOO agree...and i'm not even from California!

Thank heaven then, for official standard bottlings from ardbeg, talisker, arran, penderyn, glenfarclas( 15YO),clynelish,laphroaig(QC-slightly over-but who's counting?!?)

just wish others would follow.

Imagine the Lag 16 at 46%..or even the glenmorangie 10?
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Postby Wave » Wed Apr 04, 2007 1:31 am

Reggaeblues wrote:Imagine the Lag 16 at 46%..or even the glenmorangie 10?


I could imagine a Lag 16 at cask strength! :D


Cheers!
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Postby shoganai » Wed Apr 04, 2007 2:09 am

For reasons that have already been stated, I really enjoy cask strength bottles. I like having more control over the strength at which I drink the whisky. Sometimes I like to drink them at full strength, other times I like to dilute them to 40% (or below). It's can be a much broader range of experiences coming from a single bottle.

That's not to say I don't still really enjoy standard strength bottlings, or even that I really have a preference one way or the other. It's all good.
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Postby wieslaw » Wed Apr 04, 2007 3:12 am

Cask strength satisfies the troll in me.

Those other strengths are for other selves.

Might have something to do with the moon.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Apr 04, 2007 4:21 am

Lawrence said,
I don't consider Macallan or Glenfarclas Cask Strenght to be actual CS whiskies because they've been messed around with and there ABV level set at an artificial level for marketing (but they could still taste good despite this).


Interesting point of view, Lawrence! :)

Glenfarclas cask strength (e.g. the 105) is 60% ABV, which is actually considerably higher than the vast majority of SMWS bottlings which are often in the range of 53-59%.

So the Glenfarclas 105 is actually a higher strength than the "genuine" cask strengths many whiskies exhibit after 10 to 18 years in the oak. I'm not sure I'd discount them as CS whiskies on that basis?

I certainly agree with you though on Laing's OMC range, which is bottled at 50% and is therefore sitting on the fence with a foot in each camp.

Cheers,
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Apr 04, 2007 4:59 am

I am very much gratified by the result of this poll, not because of the voting results--I really don't give a $#!% about that--but because of the discussion that has ensued, which in my mind should be the purpose of any good poll.

Don't stop now.
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Postby pkt77242 » Wed Apr 04, 2007 5:41 am

I prefer my whisky anywhere from 46-50%. I find some cask strengths hard to get used to and some of the 40% a little weak. Of course this has as much to do with the whisky's as it does with the ABV. I really like how Talisker 10yo is 45.8% and I wish Diageo would do that with the rest of their standard bottlings.

The fact that I have had limited exposure to CS (maybe 3 or 4) could be affecting my preference though.


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Postby l'chaim » Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:54 am

I much prefer cask strength, although I certainly buy bottles with lesser ABV as I explore the many distilleries and expressions I’ve yet to try. If I had my druthers, everything would be bottled at 70% like GT Stagg. :twisted:
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:29 pm

Admiral wrote:Lawrence said,
I don't consider Macallan or Glenfarclas Cask Strenght to be actual CS whiskies because they've been messed around with and there ABV level set at an artificial level for marketing (but they could still taste good despite this).


Interesting point of view, Lawrence! :)

Glenfarclas cask strength (e.g. the 105) is 60% ABV, which is actually considerably higher than the vast majority of SMWS bottlings which are often in the range of 53-59%.

So the Glenfarclas 105 is actually a higher strength than the "genuine" cask strengths many whiskies exhibit after 10 to 18 years in the oak. I'm not sure I'd discount them as CS whiskies on that basis?

I certainly agree with you though on Laing's OMC range, which is bottled at 50% and is therefore sitting on the fence with a foot in each camp.

Cheers,
ADmiral


Because so much of my early whisky education involved SMWS bottlings I think I automatically associate cask strength with single cask. I fully understand the differences as you've outlined above but I still have problem thinking that 60% is cask strength even though it actually is. I'm having some trouble expressing myself and I think you have to look past the literal meaning of cask strength to attempt to understand what I'm trying to say.
Last edited by Lawrence on Fri Apr 06, 2007 7:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:53 pm

Well, if you want to be Picky (and I do!), the actual percentage relative to other whiskies is irrelevant. If they put a drop of water in it, it's not cask strength, just as, if there's a drop of Kininvie in a barrel of Glenfiddich, it's no longer single malt 'Fiddich.

Of course, these days they dilute to 63.5% before maturation, anyway, so maybe such a malt can't be considered natural cask strength, either.... :? It's hell being Picky sometimes, I'll tell you.
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Postby Di Blasi » Fri Apr 06, 2007 6:59 pm

Mr Fjeld wrote:Good poll - and one I haven't seen before!
I wen't with the second option. It doesn't really matter to me if it's a standard 40% or a cask strength. Some seem very straight forward at cask strenght and some can be "harsh" at 40% . Water (or saliva) is an option if a cask strength whisky is tough on the palate.


Well said, but I would also add in the poll something about cask strength whisky frequently being uncolored and unchillfiltered, and totally natural, thus explaining what I prefer to drink regularly.
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Postby Jan » Sat Apr 07, 2007 4:10 pm

I voted the second option, finding that my preferred abv changes with the whisky, my palate on the day and my mood.

While I certainly enjoy the ultra-intense SC cask strengths - it can be a bit much and sometimes I just want a nice smooth sipping dram at the end of the day...
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