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 Whiskies
Ardbeg 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.