Originally Posted by hewins
Most whiskies do not label the year they were put into the barrel. They only put the number of years it was in the barrel. This is because, like your example, Balvenie Doublewood 12 is released often year after year. It's probably also been put into barrels year after year, so they are barreling the same raw spirit each year and aging it 12 years. Same for Laphroaig 10. They make what will become "Laphroaig 10" every day (I'm guessing) and barrel it up and label the barrel. 10 years later the spirit is bottled and labeled a 10 yo whisky.
I think the main reason for this labeling, as opposed to vintage labeling like wines, is that whisky does not age at all once it's bottled. So, a Laphroaig 10 bottled in 1990 won't be all that different than a Laphroaig 10 bottled in 2001, if at all. So, vintage isn't important when you're talking about the age of whisky.
Now, some distilleries to put vintage statements on their whiskies, sometimes, too. Glenrothes, among others does this. This leads to my question, which is, what is the point of vintage labeling in whisky?
I think that you will find that vintage bottling is mostly done for single cask bottlings and mostly, but not always they are bottled at cask strength. You will also find that the best exception for vintage bottling is KNOCKANDO. This distillery bottles the vintage when the master blender thinks its ready and not at a certain age, although many of KNOCKANDO vintage bottlings are at 12 years old and not single cask bottlings. Also, keep in mind that just because a bottling indicates 10 years old doesn't mean that all whiskies in that bottle are 10 years old. Single malts do vat ( new term: blended malt ) different ages together. It is the youngest whisky in the vatting that gets the age statement by British law. As long as all whiskies in the bottle come from the same distillery, the bottling is a single malt as a single malt is the product from a single distillery even though it may have several different aged whiskies in the recipe. The master blender is looking for a flavor profile. It's not as black and white as a distillation run being casked today and 10 years later it is bottled with only 10 year old that was run 10 years earlier. I'm sure the distilleries wish it was that simple. And let's not forget the marketing boys as well. Hope this helps wading through the mud a little easier.