Thursday, 29 September 2016

The Resurgence Of The Age Statement?

Everyone who has even the  slightest interest in whisky must by now have heard of the term NAS (no age statement). The regulations for Scotch whisky say that if an age is stated it must be the age of the youngest component in the bottle. In recent years (although NAS is much older) it has become a trend in the industry to omit that age statement. The reason is that distilleries want to mix younger stocks in the blend but don't want to write an age statement of let's say 5 years on the bottle. Some people see the disappearance of the age statement just as a natural development  others are a bit more sceptical and other people see it as a monster that is haunting the industry. I still remember when I started drinking whisky and the Macallan, a distillery that was a favourite of many Scotch lovers announced that it replaced their age statement series with no age statement whiskies and people almost started running riot.

I want to state that this piece won't be me explaining my opinion about NAS whisky (Although it seems like a rite of passage for every blogger to write such an article). What makes me write this article is a question posted in the Swiss whisky forum by my friend Michael. When browsing the Macallan website he saw that there were "a lot more whiskies with an age statement than with fancy stories". And indeed on the website you don't find the 1824 series that distinguished between colours (Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby) but the old Sherry Oak and Fine Oak Series both with age statements ranging from 10 to 30 years. Also this summer another Macallan with age statement was launched in certain Asian markets - the Macallan Double Cask 12 years old.
On top of that, Ardbeg, another distillery that got a lot of stick in recent years for only releasing NAS limited editions for high prices recently released a 21 years old single malt.
So what do we make of all that? Is this just an exception or is this the resurgence of the age statement? Has NAS fallen out of fashion?

My position to those questions is a rather sceptical one. Ardbeg 21 was sold for £310 and a lot of people that got a bottle then flipped it on e-bay for at least twice as much. So the "normal" whisky drinkers that don't want to spend over 300 quid a bottle can't really profit from that age statement.
I commend the Macallan and the Ardbeg distilleries for releasing whiskies with age statement but I can't really imagine that everyone will follow their example. On top of that I am not even the slightest bit convinced that Ardbeg will from now on only release limited editions with an age statement. And why should they even? All their annual limited releases get sold out very quickly. As long as people continue buying such bottles I can see no end to the "NAS era". A lot of distilleries stated in recent years that they are short on old, well matured casks and if we are to believe that statement, it will certainly take a few years to rebuild well aged stocks.

What is your opinion about NAS? Do you think we will see more distilleries raplacing their age statement whiskies with NAS or do you think we will see more of the opposite?
Hit me up on social media or in the comment box and have your say.

Cheers, U

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