The best part about our job is discovering exception single cask whisky. Some of the casks of whisky we find are for our clients, and some we simply have to bottle ourselves, under our Mythical Beasts label.
But why is single cask whisky so special? What sets these releases apart from other whiskies you'll find?
Let's start with the basics.
Single malt vs single cask whisky
A single malt whisky has to be from just one distillery. That's what the "single" in the name means - a single distillery.
The vast majority of single malts on the market range from a small batch of, say, around 2,000 bottles, through to larger batches in the tens of thousands, to core releases that are always available. The distilleries want these releases to be consistent. So, if you find a release you like, you can have confidence that your second or third bottle tastes the same as the first. To create this consistency, they use a cask recipe. They will take a range of different casks, and combine the whiskies from these casks together to create the final single malt. This can, of course, create some delicious whiskies. But it is inherently different to a single cask whisky.
A single cask whisky comes from just one, single, individual cask. Depending on the size of the cask, you may get from around 100 bottles to around 600 bottles. But that's it. You can't add further casks to increase the volume, you're limited to just that one single cask.
The quality of single cask whisky
Only the best single cask whiskies can be bottled standalone. For example, our job is to find the best casks for our Mythical Beast releases. So, generally speaking, the whiskies that you'll find releases as single cask expressions should be exceptional examples.
The uniqueness of single cask whisky
One of the best things about single cask whisky is that they can be unique, in a range of different ways. Here are a few things to look out for in single cask whiskies:
- Unusual distilleries. Keep an eye open for distilleries you don't often see as a single malt. While this sounds somewhat counter intuitive, there are many distillery names that send the majority of their whisky into the major blending houses. For these distilleries, a single cask released by an independent bottler can be your best bet for trying the whisky in its purest form.
- Unique takes on a familiar distillery. Distilleries have house styles. The style that they are known for. Sometimes they have casks that don't conform to this house style, but are excellent. Such casks can be sold to independent bottlers, who then bottle them as single cask releases.
- Interesting cask types and styles. From sherry to port, from butts to quarter casks, there are so many fascinating cask styles out there. Single cask releases can be the ideal way to see how these casks influence a whisky.
Whisky in its purest form
While single cask whisky does not necessarily guarantee the release is cask strength, natural colour, non-chill filtered, these things do often go hand in hand. So if you're looking to try whisky in its purest form, as if you were drawing straight from the cask in a warehouse, then single cask whisky is the perfect opportunity.
Try our Mythical Beasts single cask whisky
Spiritfilled is an award-winning independent bottler. We release exceptional single cask whiskies, which we're really proud of. And we're pioneering a unique process called New Era of Cask, read more here.
Find our range of single cask whisky here.