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The Rise of No Age Statement Whiskies - Good Thing or Not?

posted Jan 26, 2015, 6:57 PM by David R.   [ updated Jan 27, 2015, 2:35 PM ]
If you are a lover of single malt scotches and have been drinking single malts for years, you have no doubt had it ingrained into you that age matters when it comes to whisky (scotch or otherwise).  If your're lucky and have the financial resources, you have hopefully had the good fortune to sample some older bottles from the venerable range of the 18 to 25 year old bottles from some of your favorite distilleries, perhaps you have even been fortunate enough to have some the over 25 year old bottles (Ah, for another bottle of Bowmore 30 Year Old).  If you have sampled over the years older whiskies, count your blessings, because as any scotch drinker knows we are entering the age (pun intended) of No Age Statement (NAS) whiskies.

As the story goes according to the press, the rise in popularity in single malts after the leaner years of say 15 years ago has led to shortages of older stocks at most distilleries and hence to an increase in NAS whiskies.  At the same time of course, we are also being told by distilleries and the press that the rise in NAS whiskies is not soley the result of a shortage of older stock but also reflects a growing trend at distilleries to create more diverse expressions of their whiskies as well as efforts to target more diverse flavor profiles.  Over the last couple of years we have seen the introduction of various Ardbeg NAS expressions, Talisker Storm, Auchentoshan Virgin Oak, Laphroaig Triple Wood, Glenmorangie Companta, as well as more recently, the release of Oban Little Bay.

And while there has been a rise in NAS bottlings recently, NAS bottlings have been around for a while like the Auchentoshan Three Wood, a personal favorite of mine.

So my question to you is this, is the rise of NAS bottlings a good thing for scotch lovers, a good thing for the distilleries, a good thing both, or does it even matter given how good many of the NAS bottlings have been?  What do you think?