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Issue 62 - Cask Strength Malts

Whisky Magazine Issue 62
March 2007


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Cask Strength Malts

The tradition of high strength bottlings was a natural launch pad for cask strength malts,which have gathered momentum since the late 1980s. Ian Wisniewski finds out more.

Cask strength bottlings vary from around 65% ABV, to just above the legal minimum of 40% ABV. Being bottled at the strength they reach in the cask (rather than being diluted with water to reach a particular strength), the appeal of cask strength malts is acquiring whisky in its most ‘natural' form.

Cask strength tends to be synonymous with single cask bottlings, and Glenrothes, for example, offers single cask bottlings at cask strength (whereas Glenrothes vintages are bottled at 43% ABV).

“When we produce a single cask bottling it's because we think of it as an unusual or idiosyncratic expression, as well as being outstanding. It has to be representative of the house style, as any vintage would, with ripe fruit, vanilla, citrus and spices, but there has to be something beyond that for us to consider it as a single cask bottling, and have released only nine such casks in 15 years,” says Ronnie Cox of The Glenrothes.

Another option are small batch, limited edition releases, which, together with single cask bottlings, offer far more choice than the range of continually available cask strength options, such as Glengoyne 12 Years Old cask strength.

A division between continually available expressions is that some have an established, unvarying alcoholic strength, while the strength of others varies from batch to batch.

“Different batches of Benromach cask strength vary by around 1 to 2% ABV. We're looking for the best possible casks to show the Benromach character, an...

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