A majority of whisky drinkers will tell you they know what no-age-statement (NAS) whiskies are and will probably also tell you exactly how they feel about it. It is a subject that has certainly sparked debate within the whisky community. NAS whisky is not something new; however it is a process that has become widely popular within recent years. I wanted to finally touch upon the controversial subject and the reasons why they have become so popular.
I want to help those around me understand NAS while educating myself on the process. I’ll start not with what NAS is, but rather with the significance of an age-statement.
An age-statement is the age classification of a whisky, for example Glenfiddich 21, Balvenie PortWood 21 and Ardbeg 10. By law, you can’t classify a whisky with a certain age unless it has been aged for that many years. Age-statements essentially provide the guarantee that the product you are drinking is in fact aged for the amount of years the label indicates.
By law a distiller is also required to label the bottle with the youngest year used in the blend. For example, if a master blender blends a 21 year-old whisky with a 10 year-old whisky, they have to classify the product with the youngest whisky used and in this case it would be that 10 year-old.
Some distillers might see the age classification of a whisky by the youngest year used in their blend as a way for them to lose money. As we all know, a 21 year-old whisky will always be significantly priced higher than a 10 year-old whisky.
Losing money could be a reason why NAS whiskies are on the rise but another reason could simply be an economical one: supply and demand, and also time. The demand for scotch has exploded significantly enough within recent years. This has lead distillers to have a hard time meeting that demand. Even non whisky drinkers know that a decently aged scotch needs time to mature. That’s time that some of these distillers may not have in order to keep up or afloat.
NAS has given distilleries a way around these laws. With a NAS whisky I can now sell that blend of the 21 year-old and 10 year-old without claiming a year… and bonus, I can now sell it at a 21 year cost rather than a 10 if I wanted to. But here is the catch, I can also sell a blend that contains a majority of a 10 year blend and very little of a 21 year-old blend at the price of a 21 year-old because frankly, who is going to know.
Selling a younger aged whisky at a higher price is certainly not ok in my point of view. A loved one told me, if you are going to write about a controversial subject such as NAS, you have to chose a side and stick with it. I would like to disagree with him. Yes, age-statement whiskies have my loyalty and always will. My problem with the issue is that I don’t think that all NAS whiskies are bad. Examples of two great NAS whiskies are Green Spot (I hear they will finally start selling in the US soon, hooray!) and Ardbog by Ardbeg (unfortunately this was only a limited release for last year’s Islay festival). These two examples top my list of favorites.
In my opinion, I don’t think getting rid of all NAS whiskies is the answer. I think identifying high priced, bad whiskies and bringing them to people’s attention is a better way to address the problem. What are your thoughts?
Note: The contents on my blog are solely my opinion. To me every palate and opinion is different! Although I may or may not like a product, I always recommend for people to try it and make up their own minds.