Proof barrels

Proof barrels DEFAULT

Whisky Advocate


  |  Zak Kostro

man handles barrel hanging from ceiling

Taste Old Forester straight from the barrel with 1920 Prohibition Style, its cask strength offering that is a part of the Whiskey Row series. (Courtesy of Brown-Forman)

Barrel-proof whiskey—which has no additional water added before bottling—consistently delivers big, bold aromas and flavors. For many whiskey drinkers, this uncut, minimally filtered liquid is as good as it gets. “If you ask any distiller—especially a bourbon distiller—what is their best bourbon, it would always be straight out of the barrel,” saysWild Turkey master distiller Eddie Russell.

As Russell notes, bourbon might be considered the poster child for big proof, since in Kentucky, proof almost always increases with time in the barrel (unlike Scotland, where proof generally dwindles over decades). As whiskey matures, some liquid is lost to evaporation—known as the angels’ share. In hot, dry climates, the barrel loses water at a faster rate than alcohol, so the whiskey’s strength increases over time. The environment of the particular warehouse and a barrel’s specific location further influence a whiskey’s final measure of alcohol by volume (ABV). A whiskey that is bottled at no more than two degrees of proof lower than when it came out of the barrel may be labeled “barrel strength” or “barrel proof,” according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. (The “two degrees” rule gives distillers leeway if proof drops slightly prior to bottling.)

There are several reasons high-proof whiskeys generally deliver an intense experience. Our noses and palates detect different aromas and flavors depending on the concentration of ethanol in the glass, explains Old Forester master taster Jackie Zykan. “Different aromatic compounds will leave the solution, and be volatile and floating about in the air, right above your glass, at different proof points,” she says. “If you concentrate the liquid in the barrel, then yes, it’s going to have flavor. But it’s not necessarily just [due to] higher alcohol content that it has more flavor—it’s the fact that you’ve condensed the liquid volume.”

“The key thing about maturation environment is humidity,” Zykan adds. “Water loves balance; osmosis is always leading the charge.” With a porous barrel, resting in a dry climate, “the water molecules want to balance out,” she explains. “They’re going to shoot out into the environment,” leaving a greater concentration of ethanol in the barrel, boosting the whiskey’s proof. “That’s what we see happen in places like Kentucky.”

At higher proof, “flavors just get concentrated,” says Harlen Wheatley, master distiller at Buffalo Trace. “You do lose some alcohol [during maturation] but you leave behind a lot of those wood sugars and tannins that you’re getting” from the barrel, and “it’s a balancing act of your distillate with those wood extracts.” In the case of wheated William Larue Weller bourbon, from the distillery’s coveted Antique Collection, bottling at barrel proof allows this decadent whiskey to shine at the apex of its intensity. “We want to showcase each recipe,” Wheatley explains. “You get the full impact pretty much straight from the barrel,” with only minimal filtration to remove large char particles.

Too Big to Fail?

Eventually, alcohol concentration may reach a point that becomes unpleasant for even an ardent barrel proof fan. Liquid that entered the barrel at the legal maximum of 125 proof could climb as high as 155 proof from resting on the warehouse’s hotter, drier top floors. “A lot of times that’s not ideal,” Wheatley says. “It just depends on the age. For example, 15 year old [George T.] Stagg, we don’t want it to be on the top floor, so we’ll target the bottom, second, or third floors, where we’ll have a little more balance on the flavor. If it’s balanced—with proper aging techniques to make it smooth, and not burn from impurities—then it’ll still be a good whiskey.”

An often overlooked, yet important, contributor to a whiskey’s final proof coming out of the barrel is the proof at which it went into the barrel: the barrel-entry proof. Most bourbon enters the barrel at the legal maximum of 125, but some distillers elect to place their distillate in barrels at a lower proof, even though it increases the number of costly barrels required. “In general, the lower [the proof] you go into that barrel—meaning the higher your water content—the more readily you’re going to dissolve the sugars out of that barrel, and the sweeter result you’re going to get,” says Zykan.

Maker’s Mark general manager and master distiller Denny Potter says the distillery’s cask-strength bottlings are typically in the range of 108 to 112 proof, fairly modest compared to some other barrel-proof whiskeys, due to the fact that Maker’s Mark enters the barrel at a lower 110 proof. Maker’s aims to further moderate the increase in proof by rotating barrels within the warehouse as they mature. “On the mid-to-lower floors, you might hold proof, or you might lose proof, because there’s more humidity and moisture, which means you’re going to lose more alcohol than water, whereas at the top floors, you’re going to lose more water than alcohol,” Potter explains.

Wild Turkey also enters the barrel at lower proof than the legal maximum. “We’ve distilled and barreled at low proof for many years,” Russell says. By adding more water to the distillate when it enters the barrel it becomes part and parcel of the whiskey, and there is less need to add water when it comes out of the barrel, which only serves to dilute flavor. For example, Russell notes, “Our Wild Turkey 101 bourbon dumps come in around 109 and 110 proof, and we’re adding just enough water to get it to 101.” According to Russell, this allows certain “natural flavors” extracted from the barrel during maturation—the “vanillas, caramels, fruits, nuts, even the dark chocolate,” and “that rich thickness and creamy taste”—to shine. “Personally, I think you’re getting 65% of your taste from that barrel,” he adds. By contrast, “a lot of distillers distill and barrel at higher proofs, but then cut it way down to 80 proof.” In doing so, they’re “taking away a lot of those natural flavors.”

The 2017 release of Rare Breed, Wild Turkey’s widely available barrel-proof bourbon, clocked in at 58.4% ABV and scored 90 pointsfrom Whisky Advocate. With notes of roasted pecans, brown-sugar butter, and a long finish, it delivers a lot of flavor for just $45. In June 2020, Wild Turkey rounded out its rye portfolio with the launch of Rare Breed rye, the counterpart to Rare Breed bourbon, and the No. 5 whiskey in the 2020 Top 20. The initial batch is bottled at barrel proof—a hefty but not overpowering 56.1% ABV—and priced at $60; it includes whiskeys aged 4, 6, and 8 years.

The Proof Is in the Proof

Given no other information about a whiskey, high proof can be a good indicator of flavor intensity and often overall quality. In the U.S., proof generally increases with time in a barrel, so you know there has been some degree of maturation. Bottling at barrel proof also speaks to the distiller’s intent, offering whiskey that is as close to untouched as you can get without slipping into the warehouse and sneaking a sample straight from the cask.

Of course, there is a simple solution when the proof soars too high for pleasant sipping: water. For the drinker, barrel-proof whiskey provides both abundant flavor and flexibility. “It’s about options,” says Jared Himstedt, head distiller at Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas, where whiskey can surge above 140 proof in a matter of just five or six years due to the hot climate. “When I bottle a whiskey at cask strength, I haven’t made any dilution decisions for the consumer, and everyone’s personal preferences are different,” says Himstedt, noting that cask-strength whiskey delivers the richer texture, full mouthfeel, and abundance of flavorful congeners that many enthusiasts desire. Meanwhile, Tripp Stimson—master distiller and distillery operations director at Louisville-based Barrell Craft Spirits—says he enjoys whiskey most at cask strength “because it offers such a concentration of big, bold flavors.” At the same time, he acknowledges that some high-proof whiskeys benefit from adding water before drinking. “When you add water, you start to dilute the concentration of those flavors, which changes some of the solubility properties of the liquid and allows some of the aromatics to really open up.”

Whether you take it as it comes from the cask, or add water, barrel-proof whiskey offers some of the biggest and boldest flavor. “It’s a true representation of what we did six years ago, and also what happened during the maturation process,” Potter says. “You’ve got a lot of extraction that has occurred through the years, and also some ester formation, because you’ve given it more time in the barrel. There’s a balance between intense flavor and too much alcohol burn, but when you get it right, it’s really whiskey amped up.”

From the Fall 2020 issue.

BourbonFall 2020FeaturesInsights



PROOF Research is revolutionizing precision shooting with carbon fiber-wrapped rifle barrels. While most shooters are drawn to carbon fiber barrels by their lightweight design, as compared to steel barrels, PROOF Research challenges the idea that lightweight is the only advantage of carbon fiber. Through a specially developed manufacturing process, PROOF Research has successfully created carbon fiber-wrapped match grade rifle barrels that bring all the precision of steel with a fraction of the weight.

At OTM Tactical, we offer the most cutting-edge supplies for an optimal shooting experience. Stand out from the rest with reliable gear that aids in precision. Take your game up a notch with trusted products from renowned brands that are perfect additions to anyone's firearm and accessory collection. We carry only the best items that offer the results you desire. Shop gear that is tough as nails and sleek in design. We have everything you need and more from our current catalog.

Want to upgrade your rifle's accuracy while reducing weight? OTM Tactical is pleased to bring you PROOF Research carbon fiber-wrapped Sendero rifle barrels at a low price. Build the rifle of your dreams without compromise at the number one destination for all your expert marksman gear, parts, ammo, and more.

  1. Paccar diesel engine
  2. Aniplex anime
  3. Turbo paint sprayer


Why Choose Carbon Fiber?

When you’re rebarreling, the first decision to make is whether you want to go with age-old steel or aerospace grade carbon fiber. A carbon fiber barrel is a popular choice for hunters, long range, competition and sport shooters alike. Both lightweight and strong, without sacrificing accuracy, carbon fiber rifles are a solid choice for bolt action and semi-automatic rifles. Another key feature? Carbon fiber barrels dissipate heat far better than steel which means they cool faster and stay accurate longer.

Proof Research Barrels

Proof Research has made a name for themselves in carbon fiber barrels. Regarded as the industry leader, Proof Research manufactures the highest quality barrels available today with dozens of options to choose from depending on your caliber, length, contour and twist rate requirements. Their AR barrels are pre fit barrels and are sold threaded and chambered. Bolt action barrels arrive ready for a gunsmith to thread and chamber.

Gunsmithing & Cerakote Services

Need help fitting your new barrel? A proper fitting is critical to accuracy and requires specialized tools. Our experienced gunsmiths are on hand to assist with threading and chambering to get your rifle ready to fire. Want to customize it? We can help with that too. Contact us today to learn more about our custom cerakote services for your barrel.

Custom Rifles

The 8 Best Cask Strength BOURBONS (according to barrel proof whiskey lovers)

Cask strength

Undiluted whisky

Kilchoman – an Islay Scotch whisky in the cask

Cask strength (also known as barrel proof/barrel strength) is a term used by whiskey (often spelled "whisky" outside of Ireland and the United States) producers to describe a whiskey that has not been substantially diluted after its storage in a cask for maturation. The level of alcohol-by-volume (ABV) strength for a cask strength whiskey is typically in the range of 52–66% ABV.[1]

Most bottled whiskey is diluted with water to reduce its strength (i.e., ABV level) to a level that makes it less expensive to produce and more palatable to most consumers – usually about 40% ABV, which is the statutory minimum in some countries, including the United States. The degree of dilution significantly affects the flavor and general drinking experience of the whiskey.


Cask strength is not the highest proof for a whiskey. Still-strength whiskey is typically a higher proof. Whiskey produced by a pot still increases in strength with each distillation and is typically distilled to about 70% ABV, and column stills are capable of producing much higher proof levels. Most distillers reduce the proof by adding water to the whiskey prior to casking it.

The proof level tends to change somewhat during the aging process, depending on storage conditions.[2]Scotch whisky is typically aged in used barrels, and due to the relatively cool climate in Scotland, the proof level typically stays the same or goes down during maturation.[1] In contrast, American bourbon whiskey is produced using new barrels, and storage conditions in Kentucky and Tennessee where nearly all of it is produced allow the proof levels to rise during aging.[1]

The vast majority of whiskey bottled has been watered down to about 40–46% ABV, although some whiskies marketed for whiskey enthusiasts are bottled at proof levels all the way up to cask strength.[3][4]

In the United States, the use of various terms, including "barrel proof", on product labels is regulated by truth in labeling requirements. Under ruling 79-9 of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a whiskey can only be called "barrel proof" if the bottling proof is not less than 1% (2 degrees U.S. proof) lower than when the barrels were dumped at the end of the aging period.(ref 5 link broken: text seems to contradict the regulation cited at )[1][5] The ruling also covers the use of several other phrases describing high-proof whiskies. The phrases "original proof", "original barrel proof", and "entry proof" are restricted to "indicate that the proof of the spirits entered into the barrel and the proof of the bottled spirits are the same".[5]


The flavor profile and "heat" – the burning sensation caused by ethanol – of a given whiskey change as it is diluted, and cask strength whiskies allow consumers control over this dilution process, allowing them to add water or ice according to their tastes. Aficionados even suggest using mineral water rather than ordinary tap water, and some even distinguish among different mineral water selections.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdCowdery, Charles K. (Summer 2018). "The Basics of Barrel Proof". Whiskey Advocate. p. 35.
  2. ^Whittaker, G. Clay. "How to Drink a Cask Strength Whiskey". Men's Journal. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  3. ^"CS SC non-chill fitlered. How to read whisky labels". []. Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  4. ^Schrieberg, Felipe (November 28, 2016). "5 Cask Strength Whiskies That Give You A Serious Bang For Your Buck". Forbes. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  5. ^ ab"ATF Ruling 79-9". U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
  6. ^Nouet, Martine (February 23, 2017). "Why I Dislike Cask Strength Whiskey". Retrieved July 14, 2017.

Additional sources[edit]

  • Directive 87/250/EEC, 15 March 1987.

External links[edit]


Barrels proof


Proof Research Carbon Fiber Barrels - New Product Showcase - JANUARY 2019


Similar news:


1296 1297 1298 1299 1300