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Whisky Glossary : Cask strength

Whisky Glossary and Definitions

Unlike wine, for example, whisky is not really about mystification, but it does bring its own jargon. Any unusual terms you are likely to come across are described and defined in this section.


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Whisky Magazine Issue 150

World's best 2018 - Rosebank - Music - Lot 40 - Royal Drams


Cask strength

Whisk(e)y bottled at the alcoholic strength at which it aged in cask, without being diluted with water to 40 per cent Abv In practice most is very slightly reduced in order that strength may be consistent.

100 Greatest Distilleries to Visit
Our team of writers around the world give you the distilleries you should visit.

December 2011, Issue 100, page 30

?All Shook Up
?A round up of the auction world

September 2013, Issue 114, page 80

A brave new world
The world of whisky may well still be dominated by the big five traditional producers,but they're no longer having it all their own way.Dominic Roskrow looks at the new wave of world whisky

September 2007, Issue 66, page 18

A case of Norwegian wood
Martin Moodle conducts his annual survey on what's hot - and good value - in the duty free shops of the world

August 2002, Issue 25, page 56

A dream of a distillery (Arran)
Our Mystery Visitor travels to Arran

November 2003, Issue 35, page 42

A drop of the soft stuff
Ian Wisniewski assesses the effect of the water used in whisky production and as mixer on the drink we love

October 2002, Issue 26, page 52

A family affair
John Lamond examines the history of this independent distillery

July 2002, Issue 24, page 52

A forgotten gem (Deanston)
Deanston is the least-known of Perthshire's six remaining distilleries. Ian Buxton visited it

March 2006, Issue 54, page 30

A grievous loss (Rosebank)
In the latest of our series Gavin D Smith looks at the history behind Rosebank

July 2007, Issue 65, page 31

A Liquid Legacy
Gordon & MacPhail may be the guardians of whisky’s history, but they’re safeguarding its future too

November 2017, Issue 147, page 30

A Real Revival
Ian Buxton looks at the resurrection of a distillery

July 2012, Issue 105, page 34

A Rich Heritage
Small and perfectly formed, we visit the new Perthshire distillery

March 2014, Issue 118, page 30

A Speyside landmark
Joel Harrison braves a cold snap and heads up to Benromach

April 2013, Issue 111, page 40

A Spicy Experience
Elbow deep in rices, spices and whiskie.

April 2013, Issue 111, page 56

A spirited event
James Millard explains why the Speyside Whisky Festival is a mean contender in the whisky event stakes

August 2002, Issue 25, page 26

A tale of two airports
Two airports thousands of miles apart, but both have a new duty-free store and exclusive Highland Park bottlings to shout about

January 2018, Issue 149, page 78

A True Travel Retail Exclusive
Dublin and Cork airports chosen for Slane Whiskey global launch

February 2017, Issue 144, page 78

A unique taste of Ireland
Jamie Walker had revived the Adelphi name after nearly a century. Ken Hyder talks to the man whose cask crusade promises to widen the horizons of Irish Whiskey and Scotch drinkers.

April 2000, Issue 9, page 48

A week in paradise
The Islay Festival is the highlight of the Scotch whisky year. Martine Nouet looks ahead to this year's activities

May 2004, Issue 39, page 36

A whisky trip from source to bay
Following the course of the Spey

March 2014, Issue 118, page 34

A world of difference
Of all the events that this job involves, the Best of the Best tasting is among my favourites.

January 2005, Issue 45, page 5

A-Z of the world's best blends
Ailsa Craig Company: A Dewar Rattray Age: none ABV: 40% Territories: NA Description: smoky but has a unique and unusual taste created by the harsh grain and the oily and interesting malt content The...

October 2004, Issue 43, page 24

Aelia Opens up at Luton
New duty free store opens including a whisky tasting bar

September 2016, Issue 138, page 66

Age Concern
Tom BG began writing about drink 20 years ago, starting with wine and progressing to whisky when he moved back to Scotland in 1998. He has worked for The Sunday Telegraph, Decanter, Harpers and Whisky...

October 2011, Issue 99, page 13

An alternative whisky map of the world...
Tom Bruce-Gardyne takes an irreverent look at the world's 15 largest whisky markets - plus the characters and caricatures you might find in each country. The world of whisky is full of exaggerated per...

July 2002, Issue 24, page 24

An Unsung Hero
We meet the visionary leader at Hiram Walker distillery

December 2017, Issue 148, page 25

Arcade classics
The Arcade Fire are on the verge of superstardom.Lew Guthrie III checks out their credentials and reviews new album The Neon Bible

April 2007, Issue 63, page 31

Arranged marriage
So how do whiskies cope once they have come of age and are ready for single-malt marriage? Ian Wisniewski investigates

June 2003, Issue 31, page 72

Asia Loves Macallan
Jonny McComick reflects on three very different whisky sales

July 2011, Issue 97, page 82

Ask the expert
John Rose answers another selection of our readers' letters

August 2006, Issue 58, page 53

Ask the expert
A few months ago we started the renovation of an old house that we bought some time ago. In the basement we found a wooden box with several old bottles of whisky. I made a phone call to a whisky and ...

December 2007, Issue 68, page 35

Ask the expert
I have a bottle of Usher's Old Vatted Glenlivet intact and in very good condition and good level just above the neck of the bottle,dated 1907. Is it possible to tell me what it might beworth? C.Brou...

July 2008, Issue 73, page 37

Ask the expert
I would like your help with the value of a bottle of The Balvenie I purchased a few years ago in Scotland. It is a Vintage Cask 1951 hand bottled at the distillery 7th November 1996 from Cask 1236. It...

July 2009, Issue 81, page 72

Ask the expert
In 2003 I purchased a bottle of Glenfiddich Concorde Private Vintage 1976 while on a transatlantic flight. I hasten to add that I was travelling on air miles. I paid £200 for the whisky and it remain...

September 2009, Issue 82, page 73

Ask the Expert
I am in possession of a Tomintoul Glenlivet 12 Years Old in a perfume shaped bottle. I have been told it is from the late 80s. Can you estimate the value? Would it be worth me keeping it for longer? T...

March 2012, Issue 102, page 9



Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

John E. Fitzgerald Very Special Reserve
Bourbon - U.S.A. - 45.00%
9 Monstrous but elegant and complex. What would it have been like at cask strength?!

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

Redbreast Cask Strength
Pot Still - Republic of Ireland - 57.70%
9 Redbreast is one of the world's great whiskeys. Delicious!

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

The Macallan 1981, Unfiltered Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 57.00%
9 When I tasted this bottling, I was shocked by its spiciness. When I had recovered my composure, I gradually began to find it very more-ish.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style
Bourbon - U.S.A. - 57.50%
9 A great dram to finish the evening.

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

Talisker 1975, 25 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 59.90%
9 Less instantly explosive than the regular 10. The flavours in the 25 are more tightly combined and take longer to unfold. You pays your money...

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

Usquaebach Scotch Whisky Usquaebach An Ard Ri Cask Strength
Blended Malt - Scotland - 57.10%
9 Big and beautiful.

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

Laphroaig 17 Years Old, Feis Ile 2004, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 55.20%
8 A touch sophisticated for the likes of me. Where are those stinging iodine notes? They are in there somewhere, but beautifully balanced and rounded.

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

Port Ellen 25 Years Old, Special Release 2005
Single Malt - Scotland - 57.40%
8 Old, intense and busting for an olifactory fight. Complex and grizzly, like Clint Eastwood in The Unforgiven.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Caol Ila Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 55.00%
8 Bold, well-balanced example, most drinkable.

Whisky Magazine - Editors Choice - Winner

The Glenlivet 16 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 56.60%
8 The rich fruity profile of Glenlivet blossoms at cask strength. So well balanced.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Vintage Malt Whisky Co. Classic of Islay Cask Strength Single Islay Malt
Single Malt - Scotland - 60.20%
8 Powerful, pungent malt with everything an Islay enthusiast would wish for.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Dry Fly Cask Strength Wheat
Wheat - U.S.A. - 60.00%
8 ?Some will say this is bottled at too high a strength – I might have to agree with them, but the core of this whisky is excellent. One to disagree over.

Connemara Cask Strength
Single Malt - Ireland - 60.00%
8 I just love this un-chill filtered version; it's fat, it's loud and it's fun. In this price bracket, there are very few Scottish single malts that can match it.

Whisky Magazine - Best Buy - Winner

Big Peat Limited Edition Christmas 2016
Blended Malt - Scotland - 54.60%
8 It appears to be a blend of peated malts. Could benefit from a little light and shade.

BenRiach Cask Strength Batch 1
Single Malt - Scotland - 57.20%
8 Neat the alcohol is well contained until the finish. Great nose.

Duncan Taylor Glen Grant C3490 Cask Strength Rare Auld Scotch Whisky
Single Malt - Scotland - 49.70%
8 Elegant and sophisticated.

Old Malt Cask Bruichladdich 1969
Single Malt - Scotland - 53.50%
8 Shows that this whisky can handle some age and sherry.

The Macallan 10 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 58.80%
8 With its distinctly reddish chestnut colour, this is clearly well sherried. An uncomplicated, robust, Macallan. Simply delicious.

Glendronach Cask Strength Batch 1
Single Malt - Scotland - 54.80%
8 Despite its appearance in a youthful, trendy overcoat, this has some developing, interesting and complex under garments.

Laphroaig 10 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 57.30%
8 A fine robust dram with lots happening. Laphroaig at its best.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Old Pulteney 15 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 57.80%
8 A slightly odd melange of flavours and textures...but it works.

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Parker's Heritage Collection 1996 Cask Strength Small Batch Bourbon
Bourbon - U.S.A. - 61.30%
8 Copes with high alcohol well. Great balance, poise and sophistication.

Signatory Bowmore 1975 Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 51.80%
8 Has mellowed with age. I missed the more assertively maritime characteristics in some younger Bowmores.

Signatory Caol Ila 1989, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 58.30%
8 The more typical of the two 1989 versions. For me, classic Caol Ila, with a touch of peat, noses ahead of the fruitier, more sensuous, expression.

Strathisla 15 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 55.10%
8 Make the effort to sample a cracking dram and to visit the bonniest distillery in Scotland.

The GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 4
Single Malt - Scotland - 54.70%
8 Is this an American in sheep's tartan? More than likely it's been aged in heavily charred first fill American oak.

Douglas Laing Cask Strength
Blended Malt - Scotland - 53.60%
8 A seriously entertaining dram... As long as you have a bit of a herbal fetish that is!

Whisky Magazine - Recommended - Winner

Chivas Brothers Glenallachie 15 Years Old, Cask Strength Edition
Single Malt - Scotland - 58.00%
8 Perhaps too sweet for some malt lovers but packed with flavour. Bland it ain't.

Longmorn 17 Years Old, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 58.20%
8 Maybe not as balanced as the classic 15 year-old. But who would turn one's nose up to a Longmorn? So rare, so satisfying. Yummy.

Old Malt Cask Laphroaig 1985 17 Years Old
Single Malt - Scotland - 50.00%
8 This seems far less lively and rounded than the 1987 whisky bottled in 1992.

Limeburners Sherry Cask, Cask Strength
Single Malt - Australia - 61.00%
8 Clearly well made whisky, with a very dominant cask.

A. D. Laws Secale Straight Rye Whiskey, Single Barrel Cask Strength
Rye - U.S.A. - 66.00%
8 Young, but entertaining.

Caol Ila Cask Strength
Single Malt - Scotland - 55.00%
8 The most fruity, fresh, peppery and lively of the three expressions. I loved all three. Scoring was a tough call.

Connemara Cask Strength
Single Malt - Ireland - 59.60%
8 The paler colour suggests less interesting casks. The higher the alcohol adds to the pepperiness. The end result is drier, more cutting, but less rounded than the 40%.

Famous Grouse Cask Strength
Blended - Scotland - 56.00%
8 Like the regular Grouse, it tastes maltier and bigger than it really is. An excellent justification of cask strength.



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