Is Cask-Strength Scotch A Better Deal?
December 16, 2019 –––––– Susannah Skiver Barton
Cask-strength single malt scotch is unquestionably more flavorful than its lower-proof counterparts, thanks to the flavor molecules that bind to alcohol. But cask-strength whisky always costs more than standard-strength bottlings; after all, it's the alcohol that you're paying for, not the water.Because you can add water to taste, cask-strength whiskies are a great option—and potentially a better deal when adjusted to a lower ABV. We compared five core single malt scotches with their cask-strength siblings, determining price per ounce at equivalent ABVs using our proof calculator. The results were sometimes surprising.
In Search of the Best Bargain: Scotch Cost Per Ounce Compared
Laphroaig 10 year old—40% ABV, $50 vs. Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength—58% ABV, $70Laphroaig 10 year old costs $1.97 per ounce versus $2.76 per ounce for its cask-strength counterpart. But when the cask-strength version is adjusted to 40% ABV, it winds up at $1.90 per ounce—a clear winner over the standard 10 year old. (Note that the ABV of Laphroaig 10 year old Cask Strength varies by batch; we used Batch 10 for this calculation.)Benromach 10 year old—43% ABV, $60 vs. Benromach 10 year old Imperial Proof—57% ABV, $80Benromach 10 year old costs $2.36 per ounce versus $3.15 per ounce for 10 year old Imperial Proof. But when the high-ABV version is adjusted to 43%, it comes out to $2.37 per ounce—roughly the same cost, but offering more drinking options overall because each drinker can customize her preferred proof.Springbank 10 year old—46% ABV, $75 vs. Springbank 12 year Old Cask Strength—$56.2% ABV, $115At 46% ABV, Springbank 10 year old costs $2.95 per ounce versus the $4.53 per ounce (or $3.71 per ounce adjusted to 46% ABV) for 12 year old Cask Strength. But the cask-strength whisky offers an additional two years of age over its less-expensive counterpart. (Note that the ABV of Springbank 12 year old Cask Strength varies by batch; we used Batch 17 for this calculation.)Glenfarclas 10 year old—40% ABV, $48 vs. Glenfarclas 105—60% ABV, $90Glenfarclas 10 year old, at $1.89 per ounce versus $3.54 per ounce ($2.36 per ounce adjusted to 40% ABV), is the clear winner over Glenfarclas 105, which does not have an age statement and offers no obvious quality differences beyond proof.Aberlour 12 year old—50% ABV, $55 vs. Aberlour A'bunadh—60.8% ABV, $100At 40% ABV and $2.17 per ounce, Aberlour 12 year old comes in under A'bunadh's per-ounce cost of $3.94/$2.59 adjusted to 40% ABV. But A'bunadh offers something many whisky lovers consider advantageous—full sherry cask maturation, versus the mixture of bourbon and sherry casks used for 12 year old. (Note that the ABV of A'bunadh varies by batch; we used Batch 61 for this calculation.)