The rising popularity of Irish whiskey both here and abroad means there is a scarcity of aged stock. This has in part lead to a move towards no age statement (NAS) whiskey expressions, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity for whiskey producers. The age statement was a clear definition and mark of what one should expect in quality from a whiskey however its removal can allow for greater innovation in whiskey expressions.
The age statement is a declaration of how long the whiskey has spent in wooden cask and refers to the youngest component whiskey. If a 7 year old whiskey is blended with a 12 year old then the resulting whiskey bottle would be labelled as a 7 year old. In the past the quality and desirability of a whiskey was often judged by the age on the bottle with conventional wisdom holding that the older a whiskey is the better it ought to taste, however this is not necessarily the case. Other factors than just time are at play in creating a great whiskey, the quality and make up of the original distilled spirit, the quality and type of oak used and of course the skill and knowledge of the distillation, maturation and blending teams.
The release of a NAS whiskey allows for a great degree of innovation and creativity when designing a whiskey. It unties the hands of the blender who could in theory use a portion of lively 3 year old to balance flavours in an 18 year old. With an age statement, the resulting liquid would need to be packaged as a 3 year old whiskey, diluting the perceived value of the whiskey. This doesn’t mean that whiskey can contain any old spirit (or should that be any young spirit?) By law products labelled as Irish whiskey must be aged for a minimum of three years in wooden cask. In fact, one of the most celebrated Irish whiskeys Midleton Very Rare is no age statement and contains some very old stock.
NAS whiskey allows blenders to be more creative in designing a whiskey giving greater scope to develop different flavour profiles. In the end, what matters is how it tastes. For me, a good NAS whiskey should offer both quality and value for money, with that here is a small pick of some great no age statement whiskeys from our Irish whiskey sale. You can pick these up on offer from Wednesday 6th of September to the 26th of September.
Teeling Single Malt (€51.95 down to €45.00)
Made from a range of different ages including malt whiskey distilled in 1991 and matured in five different wine casks including Sherry, Port, Madeira, White Burgundy and Cabernet Sauvignon. Expect great balance and complex citrus, spice and wood flavours.
Green Spot (€59.95 down to €55.00)
One of the most recognised NAS whiskeys is a pot still aged between 7 and 9 years with 25% aged in sherry cask. Bursting with honeyed spice and orchard fruits.
Writers Tears Red Head (€50.00 down to €45.00)
The newest release from Walsh distillery is a single malt aged exclusively in Oloroso Sherry butts. The sherry influence is clear with dried fruit and nuts balanced with fresh tropical fruit and spice
Jameson Black Barrel (€51.95 down to €40.00)
A blending of pot still and grain whiskeys and aged in bourbon and sherry cask. The bourbon barrels get an additional charring for increased body and richer flavour of toasted wood and spice alongside tropical fruit notes.
Glendalough Double Barrel (€38.00 down to €33.00)
This is a single grain whiskey aged in bourbon cask and again here seeing time in Oloroso cask for six months to finish. Light and bright and very moreish, smooth caramel, vanilla and fruity tones.