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The Good Life

Straight From the Barrel

A profusion of spirits are being bottled at cask strength. Is it proof positive that stronger can mean tastier?
By Jack Bettridge | From America’s Most Notorious Mobsters, November/December 2020
Straight From the Barrel
Photo/Jeff Harris
Years ago, drinking ultra high-proof spirits was the type of behavior reserved for frat parties. It meant braving some pretty harsh liquids—Everclear perhaps, or some other grain alcohol—for the chance to prove your manhood and get drunk in a hurry. It was not the stuff of sophistication.  Today, the terms “barrel proof” and “cask strength” are spoken in reverent tones among connoisseurs of fine spirits, and there’s nothing unsophisticated or rough about such drinks. People look to these stronger, more intense spirits in search of fuller, deeper flavors and a kind of authenticity. After all, isn’t straight from the barrel the way that the liquor gods intended for it …
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