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Verifying Whisky Age Statement

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Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Peter Alcamo » Mon May 05, 2008 2:34 am

How is one assured that the whisky age statement has been verified. How do I know the 25yr old malt is really a minimum 25yrs old.

Credibility comes to mind, but are there independant inspectors who verify the age statement.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Sherried Malt » Mon May 05, 2008 5:22 am

Very good question.

I've always assumed the distillery attested to the age of their whiskies on some regulatory filing under the threat of pain of death, but can anyone confirm what really happens?
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Di Blasi » Mon May 05, 2008 9:44 am

Too much is at stake for the companies and their whisky to lie. But I also wonder how it's verified besides their own documentation?
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Willie JJ » Mon May 05, 2008 10:16 am

I'm absolutely convinced that record keeping (whether on paper or on the end of the cask) is the only source of info for this. I really can't see them submitting each cask to some chemical test of age, even if such a test existed. However, good documentation is generally extremely reliable so, barring fraud, I think we can be confident that what we are getting is the real thing.

If they wanted to defraud us though, I doubt the auditor would see it as part of their remit to detect it. They are just looking to see that the accounts present a true and fair view of the company's position. If they wanted to deceive us I'm sure they could, but then so could any company. I think we just have to rely on their awareness of the catastrophic effect it would have on their reputation if they were discovered being dishonest about such things.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 05, 2008 10:41 am

I have to agree with Willie, the distillery records which I assume form the basis of declarations to Customs & Excise will list all cask numbers as filled by date, strength of spirit ... etc.

This means each cask will be identifiable by number, type of spirit and filling date.
Likewise, the process of bottling will be equally well recorded and if any authorities wish to check records, then they would be able to verify all details.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Iain » Tue May 06, 2008 8:44 pm

Yello to Mello wrote:.


That sounds right. If authorities want to check they can look at the cask's numbers and if they are suspicious they can check the specific gravity of the whisky to see if it would be correct with the starting alcoholic strength. If the distillers wanted to cheat those specific gravity numbers it means they started at a lower strength and the whisky wouldnt come out good and the taster would notice.[/quote]

It's interesting that comments on the forum are all (so far) conjecture. One would think that such an important piece of product information would be easily verifiable - but how? I've never seen a whisky journalist or enthusiast explain how exactly one can be sure that the whisky in the bottle is the age it says on the label.

I'm sure the big companies stand to lose too much to cheat - but smaller outfits? Any "insider" info welcome!
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Lawrence » Wed May 07, 2008 5:08 am

If a distillery/bottler lies about the age then they would have to pay the Excise for the extra duty, no?

What are they going to say, "it's really a 25 not a 27yo" to the Excise?

It's in the distiller/bottlers interest to be accurate.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed May 07, 2008 6:48 am

YtoM,
I once heard Richard Paterson say that the age of a whisky can be ascertained by its effect on the tongue.
Whether the flavours and tingle hit the front, middle, sides .....

I have personally tried to verfiy this, but as yet, I haven't found a pattern.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Willie JJ » Wed May 07, 2008 9:10 am

Keith I think that's another piece of Richard Paterson nonsense.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Deactivated Member » Wed May 07, 2008 1:28 pm

I think it would take an enormous amount of effort and heartache to lie about a whisky's age. There would be so many people who would know about it - warehouse workers, blenders, bottlers, managers and so on - that it would be impossible to keep silent. You'd just need one disgruntled former employee to blow the whistle and the distillery reputation would be shot to smithereens - especially if it were done on a systematic and repeated basis.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Iain » Sat May 10, 2008 12:10 am

Nick Brown wrote:I think it would take an enormous amount of effort and heartache to lie about a whisky's age. There would be so many people who would know about it - warehouse workers, blenders, bottlers, managers and so on - that it would be impossible to keep silent. You'd just need one disgruntled former employee to blow the whistle and the distillery reputation would be shot to smithereens - especially if it were done on a systematic and repeated basis.


If I buy a few casks of 12 year old whisky from a distillery, bottle it, and stick on a label that says it's an 18 year old, how do I get caught out? Customs and Excise won't be looking. Distillery doesn't care. Who will blow the whistle?

It's within living memory that wine and spirit merchants sold Irish as Scotch.

And as for the "vintage" stuff Macallan tried to sell on their website (and McTears sell at auction)...!
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Iain » Sat May 10, 2008 1:09 am

Collector57 wrote:With respect Iain it's not really relevant. You're not the distillery so you won't be picked up by HMRC or anyone else.
The distillery is a business regulated under licensing laws of various kinds. The situation is entirely different.


Sorry for the confusion - I was using "I" hypothetically. What I meant was, if any independent whisky bottler buys some casks of whisky, what procedures are in place to ensure that he or they print the correct age on the label? I'm not suggesting I have evidence that anyone today is misleading the consumer - only asking what is to stop an unscrupulous person from doing so?

Is it based solely on the consumer's trust in the bottler's integrity, and a blind faith that someone might act as whistleblower in the event of naughtieness?

I think it's an important question. How can I judge with confidence that I am buying what it says on the label? The difference in perceived value between a 12, 18, 25 year old (and upwards!) of most brands of sms (and many blends) is considerable.

There is probably a good and simple answer to this question. Can anyone supply it?
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Willie JJ » Mon May 12, 2008 1:03 pm

Iain wrote:Sorry for the confusion - I was using "I" hypothetically. What I meant was, if any independent whisky bottler buys some casks of whisky, what procedures are in place to ensure that he or they print the correct age on the label? I'm not suggesting I have evidence that anyone today is misleading the consumer - only asking what is to stop an unscrupulous person from doing so?

I think the point you make is fair enough Iain. It would be a bit easier for an independent to cheat, but I don't think there is an easy answer I'm afraid.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby sievm » Mon May 12, 2008 5:10 pm

If an independent bottler took a cask of whisky from a distillery and bottled it as much older than the whisky was then they would go out of business very quickly - the distillery would never give them whisky again and I am sure they would be black-balled by the entire industry.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Ganga » Mon May 12, 2008 6:14 pm

I think even the suggestion that such-and-such bottler/distillery was involved in shenanigans such as misreporting the age would suffer great strife from the purchasers lack of confidence.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby mikeymad » Mon May 12, 2008 6:41 pm

Well I know that Balvinie LIES.....

I have a 15yo single cask that is 17yo....

Balvenie, The 15(7)yo 1991 ( 47.8%, Original Bottling, Single Barrel, d-22/01/90 b-17/05/07 cask-1781 bottle-34 )

I guess I should turn them in... :roll:

Cheers,
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue May 13, 2008 10:40 am

Mikey,
any single cask bottling will have a definite age statement. They usually state when distilled and when bottled, although some may only give the age, or year distilled or year bottled.

Any single malt bottling will be a vatting of various casks from the same distillery and the age declared MUST be the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle. Older ones may be used, but the age statement has to declare the youngest, not the oldest and not an average of all together.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Ganga » Tue May 13, 2008 3:15 pm

Malt-Teaser wrote:YtoM,
I once heard Richard Paterson say that the age of a whisky can be ascertained by its effect on the tongue.
Whether the flavours and tingle hit the front, middle, sides .....

I have personally tried to verfiy this, but as yet, I haven't found a pattern.
MT


I've been able to get somewhere with this technique. I was given a blind sample and was within a few years of the age of the whisky. Maybe nonsense but not complete nonsense.
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Willie JJ » Tue May 13, 2008 8:58 pm

Do you find it reliable Ganga? How often do you get it right?

I struggle with this as an idea because different casks will affect whiskies in different ways. Perhaps it works with distillery OBs where many casks are vatted and individual anomolies even out, but with single casks ... ?
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Re: Verifying Whisky Age Statement

Postby Ganga » Tue May 13, 2008 11:28 pm

I can usually group it into young whiskies (<12), medium age (<20) and older whiskies. Richard describe it as a way to get a general age description of the whisky; you wouldn't be able to distinguish between whiskies that were of a closer age group.

I've probably tried this on about a dozen different whiskies and have found it to hold up decently. The ones that are the most difficult to distinguish have been the hot, cask strength whiskies or very spicey whiskies.
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