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18 year olds!

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18 year olds!

Postby lucky-shot » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:02 am

Hi, all. new to the site. I love 18 year olds, i have a few of them. single malts that is!
Is 18 year old the perfect age statement when it comes to taste, balance, complexity
smoothness and price! or is it just a number. thanks nice site.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby dramtastic » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:16 am

Welcome to the forum lucky-shot. In my experience there is no such thing as a perfect age for whisky, I've had some awesome stuff from 10 years and up. I will say this though, it seems that I don't read many bad reports on 18YO's so there is possibly a good level of consistancy at that age.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Willie JJ » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:22 am

Some might argue that 18 is pretty much in the middle of the optimum age range for whisky. I doubt if I would though; there are just too many exceptions.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:46 am

lucky-shot wrote:...or is it just a number?

When you get right down to it, just a number. :wink:

Yes, there are many quite excellent 18-year old whiskies on the market. And some of them, such as those (to name but two) from Highland Park and Talisker, are exceptional.

But to fall into the trap of 'believing' that 18 years of maturation in oak invariably leads to wonderful taste experiences above and beyond those that can be experienced from drinking whiskies of younger (or, in some cases, older) pedigree is to simply deny yourself some great drams.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby lucky-shot » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:19 am

Thanks guys, i do agree with TTD highland park and talisker are verygood in 18 form.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Knolly » Tue Jan 18, 2011 9:05 am

lucky-shot wrote:Thanks guys, i do agree with TTD highland park and talisker are verygood in 18 form.


Personally, the HP18 I can take or leave - but not much about HP gets me excited.

Talisker 18 - on the other hand - is an amazing dram. Definitely probably tied with Laga 16yo as two of the best regularly available whiskies.


Regarding age: I think it's good to remember the big picture and - as others have said - take into account the exceptions:

First off - something like 90 - 95% of all single malt made goes into blended whisky because it just doesn't cut it as a single malt. And, most of that is a hell of a lot younger than 18yo.

Secondly, of the remaining 5-10%, most of that goes into standard ranges (say 10 - 12yos ) or NAS (No Age Statement) bottles (often in the 8-12 yo range).

Now - I have heard (and remember - this is the intraweb, so it must be true!) that many so called experts feel that whiskies that are suitable for use as single malts - on average - tend to reach their peak at around 17yo. However, 17 sounds much lamer than 18yo from a marketing perspective. Assuming that this is correct (yes, massive assumption!), then whisky starts to go down hill pretty quickly and only the rare and extremely rare casks can hit 25, 30 and even 40 years old...

For what it's worth, perhaps 18yo whiskies are - on average - at a great point in their lives. However, there are so many other variables out there that factor into the equation that it's really hard to tell. Yes, there are some exceptional whiskies on the market in the 16-20 yo range. That being said, i've had 3yo Port Charlotte that's absolutely awesome and 40+ year old whiskies that defy reason with the quality of their spirit. So, perhaps 18yo is the middle of the bell curve? Who knows. I guess though that most of us would say: "Try and then buy what you like" - cheers!
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:01 pm

Knolly wrote:First off - something like 90 - 95% of all single malt made goes into blended whisky because it just doesn't cut it as a single malt.

Knolly makes some excellent points above. But here, I have to part company.

While it may be true that some less than outstanding casks wind up being 'thrown' into blends (likely more frequent when it comes to those 'bargain-basement' blends), and also that one would hope distilleries and/or companies choose only top quality casks to be utilized in the bottling of malt whiskies, the proposition that malts incorporated in blended whiskies are inherently inferior to those chosen for release as single malts strikes me as too cut and dry.

I feel it would be more accurate to state that casks of any given single malt picked for release as such would be different (but not invariably of a lesser perceived quality) from those allotted for blending purposes. For example, depending on what style the blender is striving to achieve, this protocol might favour second-fill casks of any particular malt over first-fill.

Perhaps a minor point... But one I feel worth making given the widespread view that single malts are somehow inherently superior to blended whiskies (a view I don't share).
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Ganga » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:50 pm

No back up just two points.

1. I believe that the individual likes/dislikes and perceptions of the drinker will impact the perceived quality of the whisky

2. Each cask matures differently

I would also suggest that Bowmore is more enjoyable in the younger ages and the older ages with the exception of some of the more recent cask strength bottlings from Rattray.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby jazz lover » Tue Jan 18, 2011 6:26 pm

Perfect 18's
Macallan 18
Talisker 18
Highland park 18
Laphroaig 18
Caol ila 18
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Knolly » Wed Jan 19, 2011 9:33 am

The Third Dram wrote:
Knolly wrote:First off - something like 90 - 95% of all single malt made goes into blended whisky because it just doesn't cut it as a single malt.

Knolly makes some excellent points above. But here, I have to part company.

While it may be true that some less than outstanding casks wind up being 'thrown' into blends (likely more frequent when it comes to those 'bargain-basement' blends), and also that one would hope distilleries and/or companies choose only top quality casks to be utilized in the bottling of malt whiskies, the proposition that malts incorporated in blended whiskies are inherently inferior to those chosen for release as single malts strikes me as too cut and dry.

I feel it would be more accurate to state that casks of any given single malt picked for release as such would be different (but not invariably of a lesser perceived quality) from those allotted for blending purposes. For example, depending on what style the blender is striving to achieve, this protocol might favour second-fill casks of any particular malt over first-fill.

Perhaps a minor point... But one I feel worth making given the widespread view that single malts are somehow inherently superior to blended whiskies (a view I don't share).


Totally valid points for sure. However, I think it would be fair to say that generally the best casks are kept for single malt whisky because these can realize a much higher return than whisky used for blends.

And, what I should have added is that most distilleries that are owned by big multinationals are primarily used for blending components simply because it's a much larger market than single malt. Additionally, many of the small independent family run distilleries have either previous contracts for supplying to blenders, or simply need to supply whisky for blends to generate continuous and consistent cash flow.

Sound fair? :)
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Willie JJ » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:57 pm

Knolly wrote:Totally valid points for sure. However, I think it would be fair to say that generally the best casks are kept for single malt whisky because these can realize a much higher return than whisky used for blends.

And, what I should have added is that most distilleries that are owned by big multinationals are primarily used for blending components simply because it's a much larger market than single malt. Additionally, many of the small independent family run distilleries have either previous contracts for supplying to blenders, or simply need to supply whisky for blends to generate continuous and consistent cash flow.

Sound fair? :)

Just about, but I suspect it still hugely overstates the selection process of single malts. There are literally millions of casks in warehouses and I just don't believe that there is a programme that involves sampling all of these to see which are the best for the malt market.

My guess is that they will check a parcel of casks to see if it is 'good enough' and then bottle it if it is. The rest will go for blending and could well include whisky of the highest quality and probably even some truly great stock. The practicalities of the monitoring by taste of all whisky stocks by the handful of blenders in the industry is just unimaginable.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Jan 19, 2011 1:50 pm

And let's not forget (though I'm positive none of us has) those casks that find their way to the independent bottlers of single malt whisky... Outstanding casks in some cases.

Of course, there's perhaps more overlapping of companies' interests within this realm these days, what with ownership of both malt distilleries and independent bottling firms (e.g. Signatory/Edradour, Gordon & MacPhail/Benromach).

That said (and to back up Knolly's point concerning the 'best' casks being held back for proprietary single malt issues), many a distillery DOES make a point of specifically 'tagging' various casks as destined for bottling as single malt or as destined for blending purposes (e.g. Macallan, both the Grants' enterprises, etc.). How the selection process takes place is another matter.
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Re: 18 year olds!

Postby Willie JJ » Wed Jan 19, 2011 4:47 pm

The Third Dram wrote:How the selection process takes place is another matter.

But arguably the most important matter if the claim is that the best whisky goes into single malts.
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