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Cask Strength vs Bottle Strength

Cask Strength vs Bottle Strength

15.03.2020

You may wonder if the cask strength version of a whisky can really be so different from its regular counterpart.

Today, I will highlight just what a change in bottling strength can do to a whisky and how it may improve or even hinder a fine dram. I will be comparing our own Robert Graham Dancing Stag Glen Ord 2007 with our Treasurer’s Selection Glen Ord 2007 , with the Dancing Stag having been bottled at 46% abv, and the Treasurers is the cask strength variant at 52% abv.

Firstly, what is a cask strength whisky?
Simply put, a cask strength whisky is one that has been directly deposited into the bottle straight from the cask. No water has been added so the Abv percentage is higher than the average whisky.
Some people will add water to their cask strength whisky to bring down the Abv to a range they find more appropriate.  There is an argument, however, that the type of water that is used will change the taste considerably, but more on that another time...

In order to get a whisky down to 'normal' strength (sometimes referred to as bottle strength), water is added before the bottling process to lower the Abv - this is usually down to somewhere between 40-46% abv range, although higher bottle strengths do exist, depending upon the bottler's preference.

The best way to illustrate the differences between a Cask Strength and Bottle strength dram is to directly compare two versions of the same whisky drawn from the same cask - one at bottle strength, and one at cask strength....

 

Robert Graham Dancing Stag Glen Ord 2007 (Bottle strength, 46%) 

Nose: An exceptionally light and vibrant whisky (9 y/o); the nose is fairly soft with hints of banana and almonds.

Palate: The palate is clean and fresh. Citrus hints of lemon and powdered sugar; sweet. Personally, it reminds me of lemon drizzle cake.

Finish: The notes of apple peel are far more prominent. The body is lighter, and the finish is short.

 

Robert Graham Treasurer’s Glen Ord 2007 (Cask Strength, 52%) 

Nose: Slightly sharper with the lemon. The apple peel notes come across much stronger.

Palate: The notes of apple are king. The body has more of a bite than the Dancing Stag, stemming from the higher ABV content.

Finish: Strong notes of apple continue; crisp and citric. The finish is longer than the Dancing Stag and sustains itself well.

 

In conclusion, the Dancing Stag is an accessible whisky for those who are looking for an introduction to whisky, with a good palate that is universally enjoyable. The Treasurer’s is a strong follow up to those who enjoyed the Dancing Stag and wish to try a similar whisky with a stronger finish and a bit more oomph.

Of course, Our two variants of Glen Ord 2007 aren't the only example of whisky from the same cask being bottled at 46% abv and also at cask strength - take a look here at our other bottlings!

 

-Remi

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