What is Cask Strength Bourbon? The Real Meaning (2023)

Last Updated on December 29, 2022 by Lydia Martin

There are several reasons why cask strength bourbons have become so popular in recent years. For one, they offer a much richer and more complex flavor than typical bourbons, which can be slightly watered down by the process of diluting with water. But what is cask strength bourbon?

If you’re looking to try a cask-strength bourbon, we recommend giving it a go. Just be warned – they’re not for the faint of heart! Cheers!

Definition of Cask Strength Bourbon

Cask Strength Bourbon

Cask strength bourbon is a bourbon that has been bottled straight from the barrel without being watered down. This results in a bourbon that is higher in alcohol content than regular bourbon. 

Cask strength bourbon is typically around 60-70% alcohol by volume (ABV), although some brands may be higher or lower. While cask strength bourbon may be too strong for some people to drink neat, it can be diluted with water to create a more manageable drink. 

For bourbon lovers, cask strength bourbon provides a unique opportunity to taste the spirit in its purest form. Cask strength bourbon can also be used in cocktails when diluted, providing an extra-boozy twist on classic drinks.

A Little History

Cask strength bourbon was first produced in the early 19th century when distillers began bottling their whiskeys at higher Proof levels to make them more shelf-stable and less likely to spoil during transport. 

Today, cask strength bourbon is produced by many different distilleries, and it has become a popular choice for whiskey lovers who appreciate its bold flavor and high alcohol content. While cask strength bourbon is not for everyone, it remains an important part of American whiskey history.

How to Drink Cask Strength Bourbon

Rebel Cask Strength Bourbon

When drinking cask strength bourbon [1], it is important to proceed with caution. This potent spirit should be diluted with water or ice before being consumed. Start by adding a small amount of water or ice to your glass, then take a sip. If you find the drink too strong, continue to add more water or ice until it reaches the desired potency.

Are There Different Types?

There are several different types of cask strength bourbons available today. The first is traditional bourbon, which is produced by aging the liquor in oak casks for a specified period. This process involves exposing the liquor to oxygen, which helps to deepen its flavor and complexity. 

Additionally, cask strength bourbons can be either single barrel or small-batch blends. Single barrel bourbons are made from a single distillation run, while small-batch blends consist of a variety of bourbons that have been blended for a more balanced flavor profile. 

Whether you’re looking for an intensely flavorful pour or something more mellow, there’s sure to be a cask strength bourbon that suits your tastes.  


Pairing Food with Cask Strength Bourbon

grilled steak

When trying to pair food with bourbon, it’s important to keep in mind the proof or alcohol content of the bourbon. A cask-strength bourbon will have a proof of 50% or more, which means it will have a more pronounced flavor that can overwhelm certain dishes. For this reason, it’s best to stick with bolder flavors when pairing a cask strength bourbon. 

Dishes such as grilled steak, BBQ pork, and dark chocolate are all good choices. The key is to find flavors that can stand up to the strength of the bourbon. By keeping this in mind, you can ensure that your next meal is perfectly paired with a cask-strength bourbon.


How do you enjoy cask strength bourbon?

Cask strength bourbon can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or mixed into your favorite cocktail. 

Is cask strength bourbon more expensive?

Most likely. Cask strength whiskeys tend to be more expensive than traditional bourbons due to their higher potency and unique flavor profiles. However, they also contain significantly more complex flavor profiles and aromas than standard bourbons, making them a great choice for experienced bourbon connoisseurs looking for something new and exciting.

What is the difference between cask strength and barrel strength?

Cask strength whiskey is bottled directly from the barrel at its full alcoholic strength, with no water added. By contrast, barrel-strength whiskey has been diluted before bottling to bring it down to more drinkable and palatable alcohol content. Though barrel strength whiskey may taste a bit milder than cask strength, it still offers rich flavors and complex aromas that make it a favorite among enthusiasts.

Final Thoughts

Cask strength bourbons are generally much richer and more full-bodied, with bolder oak, vanilla, and caramel flavors. As a result, they are often best enjoyed diluted with a little water or ice. 

While cask strength bourbons can be difficult to find, they are well worth seeking out for any true whiskey lover. Whether you prefer your whiskey neat or on the rocks, this bourbon is sure to satisfy your craving for a smooth and satisfying drink.



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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