I am also not talking about Bourbon, as for the most part I have always found bourbons (at least those I can typically find in the US) can easily climb in terms of alcohol content, even in the lower priced bottles.
AdamMY wrote:...I am finding that they are just about all 43% or 46% alcohol by volume.
This does depend on localized market variations, of course. But yes, I do think your observation is right on the money. A big part of this change is likely due to many OB releases now being offered in non-chill-filtered guise. Doing this generally requires that whiskies be bottled at an alcoholic strength of 46%ABV or higher (though I have come across the odd non-chill-filtered whisky bottled at 43%ABV).
Most "entry level" whisky is at the required minimum of 40% ABV. However, as others have said, there is regional variation (Laphroaig 10 is available in both 40% and 43% ABV depending upon the market) and there is generally an increase in alcohol content as quality and uniqueness increase.
As others have said, any whisky that's non-chill filtered is going to be 46% ABV at a minimum. Several distilleries are just making whisky at 46% or higher: Bruichladdich and Ardbeg are two examples of this.
Just be thankful, because 40% might all of a sudden start to see a bit bland by comparison! (though there are still some awesome bottles available at 40 or 43%...).
Also, some bourbons can actually increase in ABV during maturation due to atmospheric conditions that favour water evaporation over alcohol evaporation. The same can be true for some Sherry production as well...
Knolly wrote:Also, some bourbons can actually increase in ABV during maturation due to atmospheric conditions that favour water evaporation over alcohol evaporation. The same can be true for some Sherry production as well...
I think I heard about that difference when reading about a series of Glenfiddich releases. That somehow the weather differences between Scotland and Kentucky, alter a bit of the interaction between the spirit with the barrel. I don't think I have ever heard a good sound explanation as to why in Scotland the ABV decreases with age in the barrel, while in Kentucky the ABV actually increases. But I had never heard that it could be true for sherry.
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