Want good, strong whiskey? You need to be introduced to cask strength – also called barrel strength – varieties.
Unlike typical brown spirits, cask strength types are bottled straight from the barrel. There is no water added to correspondingly lower the alcohol content.
The cask strength can vary greatly depending on a few factors. In order to find your perfect bottle, you should know what you’re getting into.
What Factors Affect Whiskey Cask Strength?
The cask strength of the liquid in your whiskey glass can vary depending on these little influencers:
- The environment in which the liquor matured
- The type of barrel it was matured in
- How long it matured
- The proof of the liquor when it went in the barrel
The environment and the air temperature/humidity will affect the maturation of the whiskey. The barrel that’s stored in cool conditions will have a proof that lessens over time. This is because the alcohol evaporates faster than the water content. Evaporation is possible within the sealed barrels because they’re actually porous (because they’re made from wood planks).
Conversely, the barrel that gets stored in warmer conditions will have a proof that gets higher over time. It’s because – you guessed it – the water evaporates faster than the alcohol content in warm temperatures.
2. Maturation Time
Depending on how long the liquor matures, the more time the water or alcohol content will have to evaporate. However, the cask strength at the end of maturation depends on a combination of the environment, time, and the starting proof.
3. Whiskey Strength
The strength of the liquor when it hits the cask will help determine what it will be when it comes out. Generally, when the liquid goes in the cask, it has to abide by the laws in place wherever it’s made. In the U.S., it must be no more than 125 proof. In Scotland, it can be as high as 140 proof.
What’s the Right Cask Strength for You?
The right cask strength for your taste will depend on your palate.
If you like it strong but not in-your-face, Scotch bottled at barrel strength will give you pop, but not too much. This is because it’s matured in cooler, damper conditions. On the other hand, if you really want a strong whiskey, go for cask strength bourbon, which is usually matured in warm, dry climates. This lets the proof go through the roof.
Whiskey Barrel Accessories for Cask Strength Lovers
Now that you know about cask strength, you can pick out the perfect gifts (think wedding gifts, anniversary gifts, or birthday gifts) for your liquor-loving friends and family.
Whiskey barrel accessories are just plain cool. Pieces like rings and cuff links are fashioned from the barrel wood. Each piece is unique because no two are the same. Tuck one of these pieces and a bottle of barrel strength whiskey in a gift and call it done. You’ll find exactly what you need at SipDark.