Cask Strength

For the whiskey connoisseur who has tasted everything and owns a collection of rare bottlings, there’s only one thing left to buy: a signature cask.

It’s an extravagance but, like ordering a natty couture suit, it will be tailored to your taste. Some distilleries will even allow you to specify everything from the grain to how long it ages.

The price and number of bottles you get varies on the size of the barrel and how long the whiskey has been aging. But the cost broken down per bottle is often less than you would pay at retail. The liquor laws vary from state to state, but the distillery will be able to help you figure out how to get your tipple legally. Now all you have to do is make some room in your liquor cabinet.

Buffalo Trace:

From Eagle Rare and W. L. Weller Special Reserve to Blanton’s, Buffalo Trace sells many of its whiskies by the barrel. The company will send you samples to taste or you can travel to Kentucky and select your own barrel. The number of bottles you get depends upon the individual cask. (The price per bottle is the same as buying at retail.) Buffalo Trace also sends you the actual barrel and can add a custom label. (For more info contact Sheri Downer, (502) 696-5926.)

Duncan Taylor & Co. Scotch (Starts at $2,300):

While many distilleries don’t sell casks to individuals you can buy a range of popular single malt whiskies from independent bottler Duncan Taylor. The company sells two sizes, octaves (70 bottles) and quarter casks (150 bottles).  (The price doesn’t include shipping and taxes.)

Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Bourbon ($6,000):

Whiskey drinkers prize the richness of Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Bourbon. But the flavor comes at a price. Each barrel yields about 150 to 200 bottles. (The actual number will affect the price.) You also receive a certificate signed by Master Distiller Craig Beam. Place an order through a local liquor store.

Evan Williams Bourbon ($6,000):

Buy a cask of Evan Williams Vintage 2000 bourbon and you can personalize the bottle’s label. You’ll get between 240 and 270 bottles (the actual yield will affect the price) and a certificate signed by Master Distiller Craig Beam. Place an order through a local liquor store.

Glengoyne Single Malt Scotch Whisky ($2,600 to $5,200):

The Scottish distillery will let you choose the type and size of the cask and store it for as long as you want. The price and number of bottles varies greatly, but after 10 years of aging expect between 200 and 600 bottles.

House Spirits Whiskey ($4,900):

This craft distillery in Portland, Oregon, offers a “Whisk(e)y Your Way” program. True to its name, you can create 15-gallons (about 100 bottles) of alcohol made to your exact specifications, including the type of wood used to build the cask.

Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select Whiskey ($9,000):

You can go down to Tennessee and pick your own cask of Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Whiskey. All 240 bottles of your signature Jack will have a special label and you even get to keep the empty barrel. The process takes about eight weeks and starts by contacting the distillery.

Tuthilltown ($664 to $996):

This Hudson Valley, New York, boutique distillery sells three-gallon casks of its whiskey, which yields 18 to 27 bottles. (You can also purchase a five-, seven- and 14-gallon cask.) Tuthilltown gives you a 10 percent discount off the retail value of the barrel and two tasting glasses. You reserve a cask online, but the whiskey has to be paid for and picked up at the distillery.

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  • Fernadno Arrelaro posted 1 month ago

    Great Tips.

  • pallydun posted 1 year ago

    Aging does effect cask strength somewhat, but more to the point, its mostly about flavor.
    Whiskey used to go in at 100 proof. It no longer does. It goes in somewhere 110-120 proof.
    Accountants figured out if it went in at a higher proof, then they would get more bottles to sell when its bottled.
    What makes whiskey is the subtle changes of the whiskey going in & out of the wood. Sure some does evaporate, but that's partially because the casks are rotated constantly from hot & cold spots in the warehouse. Invariably some casks just seem to get in the sweet spot, neither too hot or cold. Just like baby bear's porridge, these are the casks you are looking for. When you choose your cask, you will sample several a lot alike, then if fortunate you'll sample one that seems more than the others. That's the one you want, you'll choose its strength or if you prefer it will be filtered at cask strength, & bottled in whatever brand you want. If you choose the strength you'll have a few more bottles, this is what most bars do. They charge a premium for a drink. If you want cask strength it will bottle at 107-114 Proof, some donate a few bottle for charity raffles. Would you buy a ticket for a chance of Eagle Rare 112 Proof? I know I would.

  • Audria Bohnker posted 7 years ago

    I like your Post and the alltimes good Informations.

  • Matty S posted 8 years ago

    I think it's mostly Marketing hype, like choosing the grapes to go in your wine.
    I imagine that after you painstakingly choose your barrel it then gets carted off & filtered & the proof is adjusted.
    You most likely wouldn't recognize it in a retasting. Then again it's a pretty cool thing to show off "Your" own personal barrel.

  • Noah Rothbaum: Editor-in-Chief, posted 8 years ago

    Hey C Foster-

    Good question. Every year a cask loses a bit of spirit to evaporation--it's called the angel's share. The rate of evaporation depends upon where the spirit is aging. Obviously, there is no problem with evaporation if the spirit is bottled. But unfortunately, once a spirit goes into a bottle it stops aging. Not only is the bottle airtight but the cask contributes a huge amount of flavor to the spirit. All spirits go into a barrel clear and come out brown.


    Noah Rothbaum

  • C Foster posted 8 years ago

    I had a fellow bartender ask me a question in reference to casks. Does aging effect the volume of the cask and is it a more price effective use than bottles? Any response would be appreciated.

    C Foster

  • Christopher Carlsson posted 8 years ago

    You forgot to mention Rick Wasmunds Malt Whiskey (smoked with apple and cherry wood) which sells barrels of spirits and barrel kits starting at 2 liters up to 5 gallons at very competitive prices.

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