Let’s put it like that: if America dared to elect a blond-haired-political newbie as president, there’s no reason why you couldn’t dare trying out those NAS whiskies you’ve been despising for so long, just because they took the risk to drop the all-mighty age statement.
Just to make sure we’re all on the same page here: NAS whiskies refer to “Non Age Statement” whiskies, you guessed it: whiskies which don’t bare an age on the label. By law, whisky producers have to put the age of the youngest nectar entering in the composition of the final blend on the bottle. So if a single malt contains 1% of 3-year-old whisky and 99% of 24 year-old whisky, the bottle would then be labelled as a 3-year-old. The thing is, 20 years ago, distillers couldn’t predict today’s rise in demand and are now having troubles keeping up with their popularity. NAS whiskies appeared as the perfect answer to this situation.
Here are 3 reasons why I would encourage you to forget your pre-conceived ideas and go try NAS whiskies:
NAS encourage innovation within the industry: when dropping the age statement, distillers had to find new ways to add value to their whisky, going all innovative on cask finishes was one of the responses they found: rum, exotic wines, cognac, champagne, beer…: we’ve never seen as many new incredibly tasty cask-finished whiskies on the market since those past few years and excuse me but that’s great!
NAS are a motor of creativity: whereas it is about design, new marketing campaigns, collaborations with artists/chefs etc., sky is the limit. When dropping the age statement, distillers have more flexibility in what they produce and can then come up with even more outstanding nectars! Cask Management is now more important than ever and new researches about wood and maturation are being held.
NAS are the result of a flavour-led approach, and that alone should be a reason to sing their praises. NAS are most of the times perfectly balanced and extremely sought-after nectars that have been designed the way perfumes would be (same can be said about blends btw) and some specific casks especially selected to reach a desire aromatic profile. Crafting a whisky of this kind is an incredibly tough job which tend to be often underrated by many whisky enthusiats. This isn’t about age anymore but about FLAVOUR, which in the end, is what you’re looking for when drinking a whisky right? So if blending a 3-year-old whisky to add a lively twist to a more rounded 18-year-old makes the end product better, why do without?
BONUS! NAS Whiskies can be a way to attract new drinkers and who wouldn’t like to welcome new members to our big and loving whisky family?! I mean, I could understand that a “Glenfiddich IPA” could be more appealing to the newbie than a snobby 2448787-year-old Glen Whatever.
lenfarclas 105 is a superb cask strength whisky, really bold and punchy. In 2004, the Malt Maniacs rated this the best “Bang for your buck” whisky.
Aberlour’s very popular A’Bunadh, matured in Spanish Oloroso Sherry butts and bottled at cask strength. These are always excellent as winter warmers and postprandial drams.
The Glenmorangie Companta is the 2014 Private Edition release from the Northern Highlands distillery, following on from Ealanta, which was named as World Whisky of the Year 2014 by Jim Murray. After an initial maturation in American white oak ex-bourbon barrels, the Companta was matured in 60% Burgundy wine casks from Clos de Tart and 40% Rhône Valley casks that previously held Rasteau, sourced by Glenmorangie’s Director of Distilling, Dr. Bill Lumsden. The result is an exceedingly well made cherry red, non chill-filtered single malt that fits perfectly into the continuing range of experimental releases from Glenmorangie.
Uigeadail derives from the Scotch Gaelic for ‘Dark and Mysterious Place’ and is named for the Loch from whence Ardbeg draws its waters. Jim Murray’s 2009 World Whisky of the Year, this cask-strength bottle exudes breathtaking balance.
Kilchoman Machir Bay
Kilchoman’s Machir Bay is an excellent single malt Scotch whisky from the isle of Islay. The distillers use whisky which has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels and Oloroso Sherry butts, resulting in a well-balanced flavour profile, with highlights of vanilla biscuits, light fruit and wafts of warm peat smoke. A top expression from Islay’s farm distillery.