5 Cask-Strength Whiskeys Hack - Suppliers' Secrets
Whether you call it to barrel strength or barrel preservation, it's a whiskey that, as they say, will make your chest tingle. And there are more and more of these on the market. Cask strength whiskey is bottled from a barrel, is completely unadulterated (meaning it's not diluted with water), and is usually between 60% and 65% ABV.
Want to know why you should try this potent beast? Hint: It's not so you can prove how strong you are. For some, it's the lure of tasting undiluted whisky, and so in its very pure form. For others, it's because you can control the dilution yourself. Or perhaps you appreciate the higher ABV in certain cocktails where the drink is naturally watered down. Whatever your reason, or even simple curiosity, these seven cask strength whiskies are worth a try.
1. Aberlour A’bunadh Single Malt Scotch ($110)
A'bunadh, which means "original" in Gaelic, focuses on traditional methods in the distillation process, the same as founder James Fleming's method of making it. The whisky is not chill-filtered and is matured in Oloroso sherry casks. (Redbreast's version of Lustau uses the same style of sherry cask.) The strength may vary slightly depending on the batch, but all the bottlings have the same bold, complex flavor. Sherry aromas are accompanied by notes of baking spices and orange zest on the nose. More sherry and orange appear on the palate, complemented by dried fruit and chocolate.
2. Angel's Kiss" barrel-aged Kentucky Straight Bourbon, finished in port barrels ($225)
Every time Angel's Envy announces a new iteration of its barrel-aged wine, it sells out almost immediately, regardless of price. Less than 8,000 bottles were released, but if you can get your hands on it, it's still worth a try. The wine is aged for up to six years, then aged for three to six months in ruby red port barrels made of French oak. At 124.6 ABV, this bourbon has complex aromas of berries and spices with hints of caramel, toffee, and dried figs.
3. Clyde May’s Cask Strength Conecuh Ridge Alabama Style Whiskey ($100)
Clyde May’s whiskey is dubbed Alabama-style thanks to the oven-dried apples May added to the barrels with the spirit. The Cask Strength expression weighs in at a stout 117 proof versus the typical bottling strength of 92. It’s also aged for eight years, producing a whiskey with flavors of apple, pepper, and oak. Only 3,000 bottles were produced.
4. Four Roses Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($50)
Depending on the bottling, Four Roses uses one of two wort types (75-20-5 and 60-35-5, corn/rye/malted barley) and one of five proprietary yeast strains. The yeast used in the single barrel produces caramel and vanilla flavors, plus 60% of the corn malt volume. The result is a floral and spicy nose, along with mellow flavors that suggest kernels as well as maple syrup and cocoa. The price point makes this a steal of a bottle.
5. Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Barrel Proof Tennessee Whiskey ($67)
Made in the same manner as the flagship Jack Daniel's Old No. 7, this powerful whiskey is bottled between 125 and 140 degrees. The same cave spring water is used here, as well as the proprietary yeast and charcoal mellowing process used in the standard bottling. In the latter process, the spirit is placed in charred American white oak barrels and aged in the upper levels of the barrel house. The character of the barrels is influenced by the changing weather and its effect on the wood, blending with and intensifying the traditional vanilla and oak flavors for which J.D. is known.
Editor: Rubick L.