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Single cask, natural cask strength, single malt whisky


It might be a mouthful but it's exactly what we're talking about around here.  We're not always going to write it like this but you can rest assured that when we say "whisky" it's shorthand for "single cask, natural cask strength, single malt whisky."  Some of you will know exactly what all this means, some of you will be familiar with some but not all of it, and some of you might be wondering why we're not talking about "whiskey."  Allow me explain:

Single cask

A blended whisky (eg. Johnnie Walker) is a mix of casks from multiple distilleries.  A single malt whisky (eg. The Macallan) is a mix of casks from a single distillery.  A single cask is just that, one solitary cask that has been sitting in a warehouse maturing for many, many years.  We only bottle single casks for Single Cask Nation.

Natural cask strength

Blended whiskies are almost always "reduced" (cut with water) to 40% or 43% Alcohol by Volume (80 or 86 Proof).  Single malt whiskies are often "reduced" to similar alcohol levels, although some distillers prefer 46% Alc. (92 Proof).  Natural cask strength is the strength at which the alcohol naturally exists in the cask.  Distilleries like to put spirit in the barrel at 63.5% Alcohol (127 Proof) as it's believed to enjoy the best barrel interaction at that strength.  During the maturation process alcohol will naturally evaporate through the pores in the oak cask and the alcohol level will naturally decrease.  Sometimes the alcohol level decreases quickly while sometimes it decreases slowly.  It's all dependent on the single cask and, it's believed, its location in the warehouse.  We only bottle at natural cask strength for Single Cask Nation (you're welcome to "reduce" the Alc. in the privacy of your own home).

Single malt

Blended whiskies are almost always a mix of different grains (barley, wheat, etc.).  Single malts are made from one grain (barley) that has been malted (moistened, warmed, and then dried) in order to release the sugars from the grain.  At this time, we're only bottling single malt for Single Cask Nation.  However, there's fun to be had with single cask, natural cask strength "spirits," so stay tuned for future developments.


It's not entirely clear why the Scots, English, Welsh, Japanese, Canadians, Indians, and others spell it "whisky" while the Irish and Americans spell it "whiskey."  What is clear is that Scotch whisky must be aged for a minimum of three years in oak before it can legally be called whisky.  We have every intention of bottling whisky and whiskey for Single Cask Nation so keep an eye on the spelling to have a better understanding of what's in the bottle.

So there you have it.  It might be a bit of a mouthful but there's a reason for taking the time to say what you mean, or at least to know what's in a name: "single cask, natural cask strength, single malt whisky."

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