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Is it me, or are so many distilleries "forgetting" to tell me the length of time what whisky I choose to buy has been sitting in a cask? I'm looking at a lot of the recent releases that have marketing names but no mention of the age/maturation period. I appreciate that some whiskies are excellent at a few years old, and some can deterioate after spending too long in a cask, but I get the feeling I am drinking (but not buying further bottles), of very young liquid, that hasn't been given the time to mature. I can only assume the owner of the distillery feels it is ready, and has nothing to do with the fact they knock out a 3yr old whisky buy calling it a fancy name and us suckers will buy it!
For me, I
Not many distilleries wants to put out an age statement on younger whiskies unfortunately. There are some like Bruichladdich or Benromach that do such things,
Please note that I am in NO WAY an expert on this topic...I'm just a dude who likes scotch! However...
There are tons of articles (and opinions) regarding the issue with age statements. Personally, I think there are two major issues: availability, and the "age equals quality" fallacy that has been traditionally propogated the whisky world (oftentimes by the distilleries, which creates a type of self-inflicted wound).
The Availability issue is easy. Currently, there is a high demand for whisky, and distilleries need to get things out the door faster in order to keep consumers supplied and happy, resulting in younger whiskies. As @bedlamborn stated, not a lot of people want to put age statements on whiskies younger than ten years. And as you said, some distilleries might just throw the whisky out there for "suckers". But even distilleries that try to do things the "right way" could get screwed by including an age statement. Let's look at Laphroaig Triple Wood for example (and this leads to the "age equals quality" issue...).
Laphroaig 10 year is aged in pure ex-bourbon casks and then put in the bottle. The triplewood however, (a non-age statement) is aged in ex-bourbon casks (let's say for seven years), then transferred to quarter casks (let's say for 18 months), then finally to Olorosso sherry casks (let's say for 6 months).
In this example, the Triple wood is 9 years old, yet in theory more complex than the ten year old. Plus, more "effort" went into making the Triplewood than the 10 year. As a result, Laphroaig charges more for the TripleWood than the 10 year, and rightfully so. However, let's say that Laphroaig wants to be a good distillery and put the age statement of the Triplewood on the bottle, which again, is 9 years. In my opinion (and my opinion only), that would be a disasterous move on Laphroaig's part.
What do you think would happen if you went to the liquor store and saw a Triplewood with an age statement of 9 years at $85 right next to a Laphroaig 10 year for $60? some people like you and me would say "good job being transparent, Laphroaig!". However, we are the minority of whisky consumers. I think MOST people would say "why am I going to pay $25 dollars more for a younger whisky? I'll get the ten year." Instead, Laphroaig does not put an age statement on the Triplewood in an effort to highlight the PROCESS, not the age: "Huh, there isn't an age statement on this whisky, but it sounds kind of cool. Maybe I'll buy it." And you know what? Personally I like the TripleWood waaaay more than the 10 year!
The other thing we need to think about is some whiskies might be looking for a specific flavor, not age. Aberlour Abunadh is a great example. Each year they put out different batches and likely have different ages. Putting age statements on those whiskies might confuse the consumer: "why is this Abunadh 6 years old, while this one says it's 8 years old?" you could even say the same thing about the Triplewood. If they put the 9 year age statement on the bottle, what would happen if the next batch doesn't produce the same flavor? Do they change the age statement, compromise the flavor profile of the Triplewood, or do they simply not put an age statement out and release the next batch "when it's ready"?
Are the distilleries are handling things the right or wrong way? I can't say. I can say that I understand it. I know people like Ralfy refuse to review non-age statement whiskies. While I applaud his motivation, I think he's taking it a little too far. There are plenty of outstanding non-age statement whiskies out there. Do I wish they had an age statement on them? Absolutely. But to not drink a scotch just because it's missing an age statement, in my opinion, is opening the door to missing out on some very unique, special liquid.
There are many good non age statements and also many bad one. Glenlivet Founders reserve or Macallan Gold comes to my mind as not so good. While Laphroiag Triple wood and Talisker Dark storm are two good ones.
But as you mention, most people would not pay more for a whisky with less age as the whisky industry has been touting for a long time that age equals quality.
Ralfy takes it way to far as 99% whisky is produced to be blended while only a small amount of whisky goes for single malt. Ralfy is also on a crusade against chill filtration. But still Ralfy has reviewed Aberlour Abunadh despite their non age statement.
Independent bottlers like to put out age statements as they cater more to connoisseurs (nice name for collectors ).
@Ridley Not many distilleries wants to put out an age statement on younger whiskies unfortunately. There are some like Bruichladdich or Benromach that do such things,
“That's what I do. I drink, and I know things.” (Tyrion Lannister)>>> Whisky reviews by Slàinte Mhath <<<
SlàinteMhath said:Benromach usually gives you the vintage and year of bottling. This is as good as an age statement.-Slainte
Come to think of it, Port Charlotte (Bruichladdich) does the same thing with some of their bottles. The distillation year is on the tube, and the date of bottling is stamped on the bottom of the bottle. you have to look for it, but it's there.
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