Bigger isn't always better, but when it comes to whisky, higher proof equals more flavor—literally, as alcohol contains all the flavor molecules found in a dram. (The rest of it is just water.) And cask-strength scotch
offers some of the biggest, boldest, richest flavors in the whisky world.Cask-strength single malts score well with tasters and consistently punch their way to the Whisky Advocate Top 20
. Each of these whiskies is cask strength or has minimal adjustment for consistency (typically less than 1% ABV).
Big Proof, Big Flavor: Get the Full Force of Single Malt With These Seven WhiskiesArdbeg Corryvreckan—95 points; 57.1%, $90
Dark fruit and spices, combined with powerful savory and saline peat flavors, evince why this is a classic of the genre.Glenmorangie Astar (2017 Release)—94 points; 52.5%, $100
A rare cask-strength Glenmorangie; the bouquet of flowers and sweet intensity are matched by voluptuous oak. (2017 Top 20—No. 2
)Lagavulin 12 year old (2017 Diageo Special Releases)—94 points; 56.5%, $130
A vibrant and zesty expression of the distillery's fruity, maritime character, proofed to emphasize its sweet peat and brine. (2017 Top 20—No. 4
)Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength (Batch 010)—93 points, 58%, $70
Chewy and intense, with medicinal peat, brine, and meatiness, this sinewy single malt shows Laphroaig's full range. (2018 Top 20—No. 7
)Tamdhu Batch Strength (Batch 2)—93 points; 58.5%, $90
Dangerously gentle in character, the unfurling layers of dried fruit, chocolate, spice, and minerality belie its true brawn. (2017 Top 20—No. 8
)Balvenie Tun 1509 (Batch 5)—92 points; 52.6%, $400
Elegant and nuanced to start, with apricot and raspberry jam giving way to nutty, leathery, dark chocolate, and cigar flavors.GlenDronach Cask Strength (Batch 7)—90 points; 57.9%, $100
Creamy but muscular, its fruit and floral notes balance out dried leaves, raisins, orange peel, and almonds.