It should be savoured and enjoyed for what it is, and at the natural strength it happens to be.
I appreciate the point that if it was watered down, more bottlings could be made and that would increase the number of people able to enjoy it, but then that would defeat the point of it being a rare cask, wouldn't it!
OMC have obviously thought hard about this and decided that 50% offers them the best outcome. Not too many other bottlers have followed suit.
Some thoughts on the issues brought up:
- If you do not want to pay too much for a whisky, try tap water. Most whiskies consist of at least 40% water. But seriously: there are a lot of great whiskies available for affordable prices. Rarer and therefore usually older whiskies simply have a higher cost price.
- I agree that nicer or rarer whiskies should be accessable to a lot of people, but I never came accross that rare 1 billion litre cask of Bowmore 1968 that sold for EUR 25,- a bottle.
Be honest, would you pay EUR 20,- for a mini if you'd knew this is a great whisky?
Or pay a fair price (but still a lot of money) for a whisky that is reduced to 40%, but has a mediocre taste?
With, say 100 bottles at 60% you could have alternatively 120 bottles at 50% or 150 bottles at 40%. At 40% you have 50% more bottles, but from a single cask, you still can not serve the global market with plenty rare whisky.
Suppose the 60% bottle cost 150,-. To get the same turnover for the bottler (ignore bottling cost etc) the 50% would cost 125 and the 40% bottle would cost 100.
Would you accept a 33.3% price discount if you'd choose 40% instead of cask strength? Or put it another way: would you buy a Ferrari with 33.3% discount and only get the first gear working, ever?
I do understand your considerations though, IMOprices of whisky bottlings are raising at a scaringly high rate.
- You can not destroy a character at cask strength, only by watering down too much.
Based on the fact that many Cask strength whiskys are overpowering. and if they bottle it at CS your not likely to water it down to 50% because you trust the distillers choice. But the most complex whiskys i tasted were rarely at Cask strength, almost always unchill filtered and bottled at about 46 to 50%.(There are exeptions like Speyburn 21). Therefore i prefer complexity over punch.
Tom, if you find a cs overpowering, water it. Surely some will find it overpowering at 50% or even 43% and will have no qualms about doing same. At least if you bottle at cs, you have the choice, plus the experience of the whisky straight from the cask. Once you dilute it, that opportunity is lost.
Dont get this wrong ok, i do love CS whisky; but i prefer a rare single cask dram to be complex instead of strong. there are more then enough CS whiskys around for when i need punch.
Lawrence wrote:Oh oh, you're going to attract the attention of team no water.
Lawrence, I almost never use water. But the option is open to any who so choose.
Tom, I don't understand the point of your post. If you dilute a cask strength whisky to 50%, how does "the alcohol remain"? How does that differ from what Laing does with its OMC bottlings? I don't get your objection at all.
I rarely add any water but last week I was having some heartburn so I watered down my drams fairly heavily so I could enjoy them. I had Lagavulin 12yo CS 57.8%, Bruichladdich Fullstrength 13yo 57.1% and Ardbeg 46% all watered down fairly well (the first two clouded up well but the Ardbeg didn't cloud up at all, strangely, with the addition of cold spring water). I also had Laphroaig 10yo 40% and Ardbeg 17yo 43% which I didn't water down as they were low enough not to irritate my stomach.
The whiskies are VERY different when adding water and I still don't really like the effect, especially on the cask strength Lagavulin. The only one that I'd say actually improved was the Bruichladdich because I just opened the bottle and it still has a few sharp acidic notes which are perhaps best left behind. The Ardbeg nose gave a few new notes but the body is quite weak, which is what I wanted at the time but not usually what I desire.
Last night I had Bruichladdich 46% without water. Tonight I think I'll try 49% without water before delving into the full proof stuff again.
A rare cask should be CS (Since the span of CS ranges from 40-60+). If it could be! Sometimes casks don't have enough ABV to be released as a single cask.
One example is a Bunnahabhain from the 60's where they had to vat seven casks to end up with a released strenght at 42.9% to make it an approved Single Malt!
I'f you want a rare malt, leave it untouched. No chill-filtration and perhaps even as a raw cask... Why bother to relase a 'rare' if it applies to everyone? Shouldn't a 'rare' be some sort of exclusive bottle for collectors?
hpulley wrote:Vatting underproof whiskies to get to 40% is not legal, actually. Anything under 40% is not whisky and vatting whisky with non-whisky yields non-whisky. Andrew Laing has told sob stories about some of the old casks which have gone down the drain for precisely that reason.
The page 67 of Michael Jackson's CGTSMS (5th edition) reads as follows:
'In 2003, for the Islay Festival, the Bunnahabhain distillery bottled seven hogshead that had been filled in 1963. Evaporation had taken one or two to below 40 per cent alcohol, the legal minimum for whisky. When all had been checked, it was dtermined that a vatting of the seven would produce a bottling at 42.9 volume.'
The whisky is released and is accepted as a single malt...
'The Scotch Whisky Act 1988 and The European Spirits Definition Regulation both specify a minimum alcoholic strength of 40 per cent by volume, which applies to all Scotch Whisky bottled and/or put up for sale within or exported from the EU.'
More about whiskylaws on:
And also The Scotch Whisky Order 1990:
In other words, Scotch Whisky which falls below 40% vol as a result of long maturation still qualifies in all respects
with the "Definition of Scotch Whisky". However it may not be sold at a strength below 40% vol. This means, in effect,
that it must be blended with Scotch Whisky of higher alcoholic strength before it can be sold, so that the strength
reaches a minimum of 40%. This will probably mean that it must be blended with younger Scotch Whisky, and so will
only be entitled to claim the age of the youngest whisky.
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