If you are an experienced old timer whisky drinker then you will have noticed the proliferation of Single Cask Whisky available today. If you are new to whisky drinking, then 1st congratulations, and secondly we will try to explain a little about Single Cask Whisky here. Before we start however I should explain that across the pond they refer to this as Single Barrel Whiskey but essentially it is the same thing.
As the name suggests this means it is whisky which comes from a single cask, the bottling is usually dated and the number of bottles recorded. Remember although the same amount of spirit is added to a barrel after distillation some of the contents evaporate over time. Therefore the volume of whisky produced will depend on the storage conditions, weather and time in the cask. With single cask whisky you are really getting the genuine article, not even water is added before bottling resulting in varying strengths of whisky produced. As no two casks are the same (no 2 trees are the same) this means every cask is unique therefore carrying a higher price tag. The big corporations generally want economies of scale and to produce millions of bottles to sell globally, creating a cask with only 300 bottles means it is less commercially attractive.
So why is single malt different? Single malt whisky is made from the same batch of malted barley and can have water added and is usually aged in the same conditions for the same period of time as the rest of the batch. Remember, it is usually advisable with cask strength whisky to add the water yourself in the glass.