How to Drink a Cask Strength Whiskey

on 04/05/15 at 4:55 pm

Spirits

imagesThe idea of tasting a whiskey that comes straight from the barrel has been an enticing selling point in recent years, but the growing popularity of “cask strength” spirits is a bit more than just a nebulous term meant to conjure images of tough men, dark wood, and stiff drinks.

If we put you on the spot, you might be a little confused about what cask strength actually means, because there are a lot of things cask strength is not. First of all, cask strength whiskey is not still-strength whiskey, nor is it the highest proof the spirit can possibly be.

Cask strength is whatever comes out of the barrel (cask) after a certain number of years of aging. Rich Varga, Master of Scotch for both The Glenlivet and Aberlour, explained the aging process best: “When the heart of the new make production comes off [the end of the distillation process], it is anywhere from 68-72% ABV. It then goes into a nice long sleep where flavor and color increase and alcohol ABV naturally decreases.”