Preferencing ultra-high proof over lower

If you’re picking entirely off proof, you’re playing it wrong.

It may seem a bit weird for me to be writing this one, as everything the Society does, bar our experimental member-approval bottlings such as Exotic Cargo or Peat Faerie, is bottled at natural cask strength.

Personally, I am a cask-strength fanatic at this point, as for me a higher proof equals a higher flavour and one with all the naturally occurring oils and fats and tannins in the glass – plus I prefer to water down my own whisky rather than have the taxman do it.

However, even seasoned whisky drinkers often fall into the trap of seeing a really high strength whisky and preferencing that against something a bit lower proof. We’ve bottled single cask whiskies and other mature spirits at the Society now ranging from 40.6% abv natural cask strength for Cask No. 27.79: Maraschino, mon cheri all the way up to our Cask No. R5.1: Mint humbugs rum at 81.3% abv, and everything in between.

If you’re picking entirely off proof, you’re playing it wrong.

Cask strength is, in my humble opinion, always a better pick than a pre-watered down whisky, but let me be clear about this one: natural cask strength at 78.5% abv isn’t by some magic automatically “better” than natural cask strength at 48.6%. I see this quite often on social media where people are basically going full headless chook over the finished proof.

Most of our casks at the Society are bottled between 55-65% abv, as natural cask strength. Some will be lower, some will be higher. There are a multitude of factors that determine the finished proof of a cask, including but not limited to age, barrel size, climate, spirit type, and so on. A higher finished proof doesn’t necessarily mean a ‘better’ spirit – it’s just different.