IS THE AGE OF A WHISKY IMPORTANT?
Is it true that the older something is, the more value people attach to it?
Do collectors prefer collecting single malt whiskies over more commonplace blended varieties? Maybe… and perceptions of quality, tradition, and age might have something to do with it.
The finest aged single malt whiskies start life as newly distilled, clear, New Make spirit. This newly distilled spirit must mature for a minimum of 3 years before it can be called whisky. After the initial 3 year aging period, it takes many long years for a whisky to fully mature and take on the subtle flavours of its cask; bottling only begins once the whisky has reached its perfect age, state, and flavour profile.
Distillery stockpiles of whiskies aged for 25 or more years have fallen way behind consumer demand creating the almost perfect fundamentals of high demand against short supply. The inevitable result is rapidly rising prices and the ability of the astute collector to buy whisky today, to resell at a higher value in future years. The road ahead could see the demand for aged single malt whisky skyrocket to new highs.
For Distilleries that are focused on producing perfectly aged single malt whiskies, it is the character and quality of the brand that must be upheld. Distillery owners are in effect setting aside casks to age for future generations, a conundrum that is further exacerbated not only by an ever growing desire for fine Scotch, but also by our world of super connectivity, and the greatest ever global market for single malt Scotch whisky.
No Age Statement whiskies are becoming more popular with the consumer. Due to an acute shortage of good quality single malt whisky stock aged for 25 years or more (this used to be 30!), many of Scotland’s finest distilleries are fine tuning their offerings. They are now being asked to bring younger, more affordable whiskies to market. To this end No Age Statement whiskies have been introduced to existing blended and aged ranges.
No Age Statement Whiskies are often youngish whiskies of varying age – that may have been blended together to create the finished article. The colour of the whisky may also be enhanced or deepened with the addition of caramel colouring (as specified by The Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009).
Although they do not carry a statement of age on the label, No Age Statement whiskies should not be considered as an inferior type of Scotch. They have gained a substantial following of consumers that appreciate their balance and flavour profiles. Many enthusiasts suggest that No Age Statement whiskies allow Master Blenders a degree of flexibility and creativity they have never experienced before, but the argument form others still remains – are master blenders merging and unifying younger whiskies to achieve a new whisky taste or, are they simply creating a subordinate stand-in for the highly sought after and harder to find perfectly aged single malt Scotch whisky?
The fact remains that in a market awash with Blends and No Age Statement whiskies, it is the hard to find, matured single malt Scotch whisky from Scotland’s most respected distilleries and independent bottlers that collectors favour to give them the sort of results and returns they seek.
If you are a collector or a connoisseur, it may well make sense to keep a supply of well matured, age stated, single malt whisky in your portfolio or your collection for the future.