MrTattieHeid wrote:Voigtman, I take your point about age statements, but they can be limiting. Take Bruichladdich's 3D, for example, which is a vatting of whiskies of rather widely varying age. If you had to put a number on it, it would be quite a low one, which would give the consumer an impression which might be misleading; much of the whisky in that bottle is not so young at all. Certainly the bottling is Bruichladdich's attempt to get some bulk out of young whisky. But unless you can print on the label the actual range of ages used--and I'm not at all sure that's even legal--putting an age statement of "5" (or whatever) on such a bottling is both commercially suicidal and substantively irrelevant. Is it good whisky or not? That's what really matters. Age statements are meaningful in most instances, but are not necessarily appropriate for every bottling.
Mr. T, I agree with you! I certainly enjoy (and purchase) various NAS whisk(e)ys and, for example, I am eagerly awaiting the Laphroaig QC in NH. Frankly, Bruichladdich distillery is not at all a concern: since their rescue and revitalization, they have done everything, IMHO, just right. Textbook perfect, even. Indeed, my only quibble with Bruichladdich is that I cannot immediately afford to buy at least one bottle of each release in their ever expanding product line. Even in the restricted product subset available in the USA! My wish list includes the 15 YO, the XVII, the Links (St. Andrews, based on your remarks about it), the Full Strength and the 3D, if it is available to me at some point. No doubt others will be added to the list.
My real concern is distilleries going in exactly the opposite direction from Bruichladdich. Examples: 1) Quietly dropping age statements just to hustle young whisk(e)y out the door at old whisk(e)y prices. 2) Reducing proof from 101 US proof (= 50.5% ABV) down to 90 US proof (= 45% ABV), without any reduction in bottle price. 3) Using a label number in such a way as to trick the unwary into assuming it is an age statement. This is where unambiguous age statements provide some real benefit: when the distillery thinks they can go in whatever direction they want, without negative consequences.
Finally, I should note that my Old Overholt straight rye whiskey states right at the bottom of the front label that it is 4 years old. And I also quite like my Signatory Vintage Islay 5 YO, despite the cheap green bottle, screw cap and $18.99 price tag. So youth, per se, doesn't scare me off. It's unfortunate that distilleries are so hung up on image (must be 10 YO or above, caramel colored, chill filtered, fancy bottles, fancy package, etc.) and seem to trust consumers so little. Maybe they are right overall, but it is still annoying to me. And, ceteris paribus, I still prefer age statements whenever feasible (with room for exceptions, as noted above): it helps keep things honest. Ed V.