Scotch Whisky 101 – Cask Strength

The demand for cask strength whiskies has been growing in recent years, as savvy whisky drinkers seek out a more authentic whisky experience, rooted in the heritage and practice of whisky-making. Some may dismiss cask strength whisky as the latest trend, but bottling at cask strength has long been a common practice among independent bottlers. Here at Whisky Foundation, where we love our indie bottlers, we’ve long appreciated our whisky at cask strength and we think it’s about time the rest of the world appreciated it too.

As you have probably noticed, most single malt whisky bottles fall in at around 40 per cent alcohol-by-volume. While the whisky produced is, initially, of a much higher abv, it is diluted with water to a level which makes it more palatable to the general public, and also makes its production less expensive.

On the other hand, with cask strength releases, the whisky is bottled at the alcohol-by-volume strength found in the whisky during its maturation in the cask, hence the name. Cask strength whisky is typically within the range of 60-65 per cent abv.

Initially, when whisky is produced it can be anywhere from 60 to 75 per cent abv. However, once placed in a cask to mature, the flavour and colour increases and the abv naturally decreases as the years go by. At times even cask strength whiskies are diluted with water, bringing the abv down to 50-60 per cent.

Is Cask Strength Better?

Producing cask strength whisky is more expensive, and at such high abv, is more suited for seasoned whisky drinkers who are used to the intense flavour of cask strength Scotch.

What makes cask strengths releases so special is that they enable the drinker to taste the Scotch straight from the cask, and experience the intense and wonderful flavours which have come from maturation.

Cask strength releases are often rarer and not as readily available as commercial 12 or 10 year-old single malts. As with many debates in the whisky industry, there is no right or wrong.

Cask strength whisky is something that should be experienced by any fan, as it provides a unique and raw take on Scotch whisky. You might find that the added abv brings out flavours and sensations you truly enjoy.

If you’re ready for a unique experience, where a whisky’s fullest natural potential comes through, right in your glass, then cask strength whisky is for you. Have a look at our wonderful Cask Strength Collection to find the perfect bottle for you.

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