Top-Flight Tasting: High-Proof Pours

Try with Water to Find Your Favorite Flavor

    Barrel-proof whisky (also known as cask-strength whisky) is literally the proof of a whisky as it comes from the barrel. That usually means in the 110- to 130-proof range, though some cask-strength whiskies soar above 140 proof.

    While that might sound like too much heat to handle, lately these high-proof pours have become a sensation among whisky connoisseurs. They offer an incredibly rich, almost oily mouthfeel and,
of course, an explosion of complex flavors.

    Best of all, and what many drinkers particularly love about barrel-proof whisky, is that they can add water to both decrease the proof to a level they find most pleasing, and experiment with a drop or two or three to open the nose and palate profile. Adding small amounts of water adds dimension to the flavor journey. The high-proof whiskies in this tasting also work great in cocktails!

Booker’s® Bourbon
A favorite among more experienced bourbon fans, Booker Noe created his eponymous whisky at barrel strength to allow consumers to drink it however they wished—neat, with ice, or diluted with water to the strength they prefer. Unfiltered and full-flavored, there are heavy notes of toffee, fudge, and peanuts, which are kept in check by the potent influence of the oak.

Maker’s Mark® Cask Strength Bourbon
The purest form of Maker’s Mark, bottled at barrel proof, offers a big oak aroma and richer, more robust flavors of spice, vanilla, and smoke. There is a long finish with no roughness or bitterness.

Baker’s® Bourbon Single Barrel
Perfect for neat pours, Baker’s shows the incredible diversity of single barrel bourbon. At 107 proof, it is robust and multi-layered but never too overpowering—burnt caramel, toasted almonds, and even a certain creaminess develop toward a lingering finish.

Knob Creek® Single Barrel Reserve
This quintessential modern bourbon has incredible complexity and versatility, especially when in single barrel form. Heavy notes of oak and leather, and intense baking spices on the finish make this great for sipping neat or with a little water.

Laphroaig® 10 Year Old Cask Strength
Very powerful on the nose, with medicinal notes and hints of smoke and seaweed. The palate offers a massive burst of peat flavor with just a hint of sweetness.

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