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Will whisky be younger in the future?

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Will whisky be younger in the future?

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Dec 20, 2006 11:53 am

During my recent period of abstinence, I have been thinking about whisky a quite bit (Mrs C find this rather disturbing :roll: ) and it occured to me that with emerging markets that have huge future potential, there may not be enough SMW to go around?

Most entry bottlings seem to be between 10 - 12 years old. However, with pressure on distillers to potentially produce greater amounts of SMW in the future, will we find development in maturing whisky quicker without losing any complexity or depth of flavour?
Laphroiag seem to have achieved significant success with their highly acclaimed Quarter Cask and Ardbeg seem to be trying to get people drinking younger whisky.

So my first question is, do forum members think that the general entry level age of whisky will soon drop in order to turn around production quicker?

The second question: Is this a good thing?

My thoughts are that whisky will be matured quicker in the future and there will be a marketing strategy to gently push younger SMW as the "norm".
Is it a bad thing? As long as the whisky doesn't suffer then no. However, in search of greater financial returns, there is a danger that the quality of SMW may falter. After all, the real money is still in blending.
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Postby The Fachan » Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:26 pm

Good question Crieftan. To mature the whisky quicker to the same standard is a interesting thought. Laphroaig have succeeded with QC because its a smaller barrel but the coopers hate making them, very time consuming and expensive. Not for the wood costs but the labour involved.
There are around 20 million casks maturing in Scotland at the moment so in the short term I think we should be safe, the far eastern markets are slowing down a little just now but history says they are also very fickle and it doesn't tale much to change them.
The growth in the east is being cancelled out in the main by the developed markets in the west. It seems we only ever hear about China and the growth there.
No I dont believe that age statements will change, scotch whisky remains an aspirational drink to most people around the world and they will pay the price for it. We are talking blends here as SMW doesn't come into the picture of sales at the moment.
I dont believe the quality will be affected, single malt is the ultimate product of all the companies in the industry so they must maintain the quality of their flagship brand. As any company selling a consumer product is concerned.
This has the makings of an excellent discussion
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Re: Will whisky be younger in the future?

Postby Whiskana » Wed Dec 20, 2006 12:38 pm

Crieftan wrote:So my first question is, do forum members think that the general entry level age of whisky will soon drop in order to turn around production quicker?

Caol Ila 8yo (Unpeated Style) is another fine example for a younger and great bottling IMO. I did not however like those young Ardbegs THAT much but they were OK too. I think we will see more of that in the future.

The second question: Is this a good thing?

It's not a bad thing either, I guess...as long as it's not lowering the standards in taste. I think the manager of Kilchoman said that their product is going to be quite drinkable early on because of the new distillery and stuff...or something like that. Of course, a new distillery must sell some early on to collect some profit.

P.S. Hey, do I get a Bronze Star or something...?
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Postby Jan » Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:22 pm

Good question.

I think we will see more sub-10 yar old or NAS bottlings in the future, but I do not think it, as a whole, will be because distilleries can't meet demand in the long term. Most establish distilleries should have large amount of maturing whisky layed down in most age brackets, should they not?

But of course, from a business point of view, it makes good sense to see if one can produce and sell good quality stuff in a shorter timeframe, and if one also could push the price-age ratio it would be good business.

But I think (and hope) that most distilleries will look at quality first; As I recall from a WM article, Allied tried out the quarter cask concept on all their malts, but it was found that not all took to the treatment equally well - and afaik Laphroaig is the only one the be marketed as QC yet. (Glenfarclas was/is not part of this group.)

I don't know if it is good or bad - whisky can be good at 8 years old and it can be bad at 21 years old. But I do think malts will become more expensive and that of course, is not so good :(
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Dec 20, 2006 1:55 pm

I have never seen compelling evidence that peatiness weakens with age - and in any case, both Ardbeg and Laphroaig demonstrate clearly that peat can be full on at 10 years old.

If demand for peaty whiskies is an issue, it will be because there is insufficient stock of 10yo to satisfy demand - hence the need to bring some whisky on faster. It is presumably quite easy for a distillery to introduce a younger expression - but it must be much harder to reverse the trick. If, say, Laphroaig's normal output became a 4yo, then if it wanted to withdraw the 4yo and go back to astandard 10, they'd either have to spend 6years away from the marketplace or they'd have to produce double capacity for a few years to carry on selling the 4yo whilst the 10yo matured. Laphroaig's christmas message says that they are distilling at full capacity, 24 hours a day. This means, I think, that unless demand for their whisky drops then they will find it impossible to reverse a decision to go younger.

I suspect the trend towards younger whiskies is a combination of distilleries wanting to cut their operating costs and a new willingness from the whisky buying public to accept NAS whiskies. From the conversations I have had with whisky people, they have always seemed like pretty hard headed business people.
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Postby Ailsacraig » Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:33 am

Young whisky ? I have the view that older is'nt always better. There have been some excellent recent younger bottlings from Ardbeg, Laphroig and Jura with an exception being the 3yr old Arran which was poor.
Obviously newer distilleries like Arran,Kilchoman and to a lesser extent Bruichladdich with new product are bound to put out something fairly young for financial reasons. Ther is nothing wrong with this as long as it is good quality. I've tasted some younger expressions that have been far superior to older ones from some other distilleries.
Apart from maturing in smaller casks ie quarters etc. I think the key to a good younger expression is a nice clean spirit filled into good wood.
An example being Kilchoman which has lovely clean new make which should come on quite quickly.
If distilleries really wanted to put out some younger expressions, and I'm not sure many would. Their spirit profile could be altered to a certain extent to facilitate this. ie clean fruity worts/wash carried through to fruity low wines. Extended foreshot and high spirit cut allowing minimal feinty character which would'nt have to be removed by the wood during maturation.
I'm sure larger distillers probably could'nt be bothered to do this, but some of the smaller and more flexible distilleries, if they chose, could easily have the option.
So in the future I think there is a place for the kids, so to speak !!

Cheers.
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Postby Mustardhead » Fri Jan 19, 2007 1:52 am

Interesting that a number of distilleries which used to push an 8 year old or NAS malt moved onto something older or with an age statement.

Does anyone see Glen Garioch 8 year old anymore? Even Littlemill moved from an 8 to a 12 year old.

Bowmore moved from NAS Legend to a 12 year old. Glenfiddich Special Reserve was NAS and is now a 12 year old.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:16 am

We've discussed before that, while 8yo's were once common, 10 seems to be the minimum these days, and I have posited that it all has more to do with marketability than anything; we snobs simply won't buy anything younger than 10 (generally speaking). Whether that's because we've been told by the marketeers that anything younger than that is not mature, is perhaps a moot issue; but I offer as evidence the fact that anything younger than that that is sold has a name and not a number (cue Johnny Rivers). Are such things as AVY and PC5 anomalies, or harbingers of a future in which we are more open-minded about going home with an underaged bottle? If it's in the interests of the industry to promote the notion that 6- and 8yo's are plenty old enough, then I have no doubt that the marketeers will convince the drinking public that it is so. Adjectives like "fresh", "vital", and "muscular" will take their place alongside "mature" and "elegant", and grumpy old snobs will complain that things just aren't what they used to be.
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Postby TheLaddie » Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:52 am

Mustardhead wrote:Even Littlemill moved from an 8 to a 12 year old.


Well it did cease production in 1992... :roll:
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Postby Iain » Fri Jan 19, 2007 9:58 am

The great number of bottles of standard 10 and 12 yo sms that are currently available at bargain prices suggests that the whisky companies and retailers see no shortage in the near future.

Must agree re the "young" whiskies of the past. Nasty bottlings of Dufftown, Littlemill etc gave under-10s a bad name, and probably fostered "le snobbisme" of which Mr T writes. Good to see folks are willing to go back and try other (and better!) youngesters.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jan 19, 2007 10:08 am

Hi there,

and 8 yo was a white lie with the latest bottling of the 8 yo Littlemill. It was older.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Jan 19, 2007 3:59 pm

An excellent question posed, thanks Criefty.

It does seem that at the moment there is a fashion for bottling young expressions and yes, it would seem to us, the whisky drinking public, that this could be a trend caused by the bean-counters wanting revenue rather than full warehouses.
But I am not sure if this really is anything other than a current fashion.

I think ( :?: ) the first distillery to really market "youth" was Ardbeg, with their new owner distillate. This was a marketing story which was intended to show the development and maturation of the new 10 year old.

It was extremely successful and I suspect created a band-wagon for others to jump onto.

If this is the case, then I really think it is just another fashion or short-term trend which has allowed a few distilleries to offer something new and different.
It is even possible that a few distilleries may retain a younger expression in their ranges, but I doubt whether it replace or cause a decline in older expressions, which are still much wanted and appreciated.

What it may do, is signal price rises for older expressions.

Just my two-penneth,
MT
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Jan 19, 2007 4:20 pm

Hi there,

young whisky means quick cash, essential in the case of Arran or Bruichladdich.
Benriach, Benromach, Edradour / Ballechin, Tomintoull / Ballantruan even Glenrothes followed suit. Most of these companies are small and need quick money.

Instead of waiting 10-12 years minimum to market a malt it is tempting to shorten the time until your cash comes in after you distilled your spirit.

It started as a neccessity in some cases but it has become a fashion. You can spare mature cases and sell them with a 25 or 30 year tag for sacks full of money in later years. And at the moment the work horse of the industry, the blended whisky performs well so that selling young whisky out of a distillery producing at full capacity while keeping good casks to mature to a ripe age at the same time earns the pay for your distilling efforts.
That is the other trend at the moment, old and as expensive as possible.

Greetings
kallaskander
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Postby Nock » Wed Jan 24, 2007 5:09 am

Let me just talk briefly about
Clear Creek Distillery's McCarthy's Oregon Single Malt

It is currently aged for only 3 years :shock:
and the taste is astounding. The taste is somewhere between the oiliness of Caol Illa and peaty smokey sweetness of Ardbeg (or is it closer to Laphroaig?)

here is what the distillery has to say about it:
"Made from peat-malted barley brought in from Scotland, our whiskey would be a single malt Scotch If Oregon were Scotland. Widmer Brothers ferments the peat-malted barley into a "wash" or unfinished beer. We don't hop it or finish it or do any of the other things done to finish a beer. Using the unfinished wash allows us to get all the flavor and character of the malt when we distill using our pot stills. We then barrel-age the rough distillate in several kinds of oak barrels. The result is a smooth, peat-y whiskey with a surprisingly clean finish for such a young whiskey. Production is very limited because what I put in the barrel doesn't come out for years."

Regardless I have to agree with Jim Murray's high assessment of this malt. If this is any hint of things to come I am all for it. This is a bottle I will always try and have on hand.

This young 3yo malt easily ranks above any Caol Ila or Bowmore I have tried which is saying something because I like Caol Ila 18yo and Bowmore cask strength.

Pick it up if you can . . . be jealous if you can't :P
(Just know I am jealous of all you guys getting your hands on Port Charlotte :wink: )
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Postby martin grant » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:00 pm

Wow Nock,
The McCarthy's 3 year old sounds fantastic. You're right I'm jealous I can't pick up a bottle. I see Jim Murray scores it at 96. How much does this retail at?
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Postby lbacha » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:27 pm

I got it in Ohio for $24.00 a bottle last year.


Len
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Postby martin grant » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:37 pm

$24.00 must make this one of the cheapest whiskies ever to score 96 in the bible! Now I'm very jealous I can't pick up a bottle
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Postby lbacha » Thu Feb 08, 2007 3:43 pm

The first time I tried it was in The Netherlands, it was a little more pricey there but it was at least available. It may be possible to get a bottle if you look, the Whisky King http://www.whiskykoning.nl/index.htm still has it on their stock list and it is 49.00 euros a bottle. I beleive they ship and I know the owner speaks english so you should be able to place an order without a problem.


Len
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Postby fergusa » Fri Feb 16, 2007 1:23 pm

There is surely a risk that as production moves abroad then more brutal processes are employed to mature on a mass scale. There are already unscrupulous manufacturers whom add wood chips and caramel in order to increase the ageing/flavour/colour.

I for one believe we should protect the industry and don't think the government is doing enough about it.

Fergy
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Postby The Fachan » Fri Feb 16, 2007 3:39 pm

Fergusa,

I probably have missed something while reading this thread but the idea of moving production and abroad and the addition of wood chips are both illegal in the Scotch industry.
I'm afraid the only way for maturation to happen is by time, doesn't seem to be anyway of rushing that at the moment.
Apologies if I have missed something, any examples to back up what you say.
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Postby Elagabalus » Fri Feb 16, 2007 4:09 pm

This is an interesting question. My reply is "possibly." Another question would be if these younger editions would be just as likey as the 10, 12yo's to be distributed globally. Would they be popular enough to reach global markets? How youg are we talking here,8? 7? 6? ???
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Postby fergusa » Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:34 pm

I can't remember where I read about it but I was sure that Ian Banks book talks about some of the cheeky tactics employed in the whisky industry and mentions chips and also caramel. As for moving it abroad, you can buy Japanese Whiskey so although it aint scotch it's a similar process.
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Postby vitara7 » Fri Feb 16, 2007 5:47 pm

dont know about whisy being genrally younger in the future, there may be a a space of a few years for each distillery when this is the case while production catches up with demand and that, but the one thing i can say with a lot of conviction is that aged whisky will become a lot more expensive as more will be used at a younger age than previously.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Feb 28, 2007 7:24 pm

Looks like Glenturret have now launched an 8yo.
I don't think it's a limited edition but I check it out.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Feb 28, 2007 7:27 pm

Nope - looks like a regular bottling! Check out LFW website.
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