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Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

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Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby AdamMY » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:16 am

I am not sure, perhaps I am trying better scotches, but a large amount of the Single Malts I am finding that they are just about all 43% or 46% alcohol by volume. I swear when I started drinking whisky a few years ago just about everything I could find was the minimum 40%. Now I am not talking about Cask Strength, single cask, or independent bottlings, most of these are O.B's and often on the younger end of the age range.

I am also not talking about Bourbon, as for the most part I have always found bourbons (at least those I can typically find in the US) can easily climb in terms of alcohol content, even in the lower priced bottles.
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Re: Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:39 pm

AdamMY wrote:...I am finding that they are just about all 43% or 46% alcohol by volume.

This does depend on localized market variations, of course. But yes, I do think your observation is right on the money. A big part of this change is likely due to many OB releases now being offered in non-chill-filtered guise. Doing this generally requires that whiskies be bottled at an alcoholic strength of 46%ABV or higher (though I have come across the odd non-chill-filtered whisky bottled at 43%ABV).
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Re: Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby Willie JJ » Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:54 pm

I agree. I think the producers are listening more to the drinker (at least the vocal ones) and supplying the product that we want, with higher strengths as part of that deal.
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Re: Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby Ganga » Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:07 pm

Many of the old standard bottlings are still at the same proof as they were 15 years ago. Macallan, Balvenie, HP, Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Laphroaig, Bowmore are all at the same proof (80-86). Springbank, Bruichladdich are still at 92 proof. Talisker at their standard of 91.2 proof. Even with all the rebranding many of them are still at the same proof.

Now I've noticed more of a change in the IBs. G&M used to be basically 40%. Signatory has added the UCF line.

I think we discuss the ones that have moved up their proof such as Ledaig and Bunnahabhain and not really the ones that have remained at the standard proofs.
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Re: Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby Knolly » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:02 am

It's not your imagination.

Most "entry level" whisky is at the required minimum of 40% ABV. However, as others have said, there is regional variation (Laphroaig 10 is available in both 40% and 43% ABV depending upon the market) and there is generally an increase in alcohol content as quality and uniqueness increase.

As others have said, any whisky that's non-chill filtered is going to be 46% ABV at a minimum. Several distilleries are just making whisky at 46% or higher: Bruichladdich and Ardbeg are two examples of this.

Just be thankful, because 40% might all of a sudden start to see a bit bland by comparison! (though there are still some awesome bottles available at 40 or 43%...).

Also, some bourbons can actually increase in ABV during maturation due to atmospheric conditions that favour water evaporation over alcohol evaporation. The same can be true for some Sherry production as well...
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Re: Alcohol Contents Creeping up?

Postby AdamMY » Fri Jan 21, 2011 1:11 am

Knolly wrote:Also, some bourbons can actually increase in ABV during maturation due to atmospheric conditions that favour water evaporation over alcohol evaporation. The same can be true for some Sherry production as well...



I think I heard about that difference when reading about a series of Glenfiddich releases. That somehow the weather differences between Scotland and Kentucky, alter a bit of the interaction between the spirit with the barrel. I don't think I have ever heard a good sound explanation as to why in Scotland the ABV decreases with age in the barrel, while in Kentucky the ABV actually increases. But I had never heard that it could be true for sherry.
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