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No-Age-Statement Scotches Latest Trend

on 01/05/15 at 10:29 am


no-age-statement-scotch-1089700-TwoByOneYou don’t have to choose your Scotch by the numbers. Increasingly, distillers are dispensing with age statements and focusing on the many other factors that make their spirits sing.

IN SCOTCH AISLES across the country, a reformation is quietly under way. Among the stolid contingent of age-emblazoned single-malts—the Glenlivet 12, the Macallan 15, Talisker 18—a mysterious new crowd is creeping in, and their labels are defiantly numeral-free.

For decades, the Scotch industry has marketed its single malts with the prominent use of age statements—that number on the bottle that, by law, represents the youngest whisky therein. Now, more and more distillers are omitting the information entirely from their new releases, unshackling themselves from the constraints that those numbers impose.

In the past year alone, the Glenlivet and the Macallan as well as Laphroaig, Highland Park, Glennglassough, Bowmore, Auchentoshan, Mortlach and Oban have all added bottles without age statements to their core product lines in the U.S. Globally, the Macallan is leading the charge, replacing its 10-, 12- and 15-year stalwarts in some markets with the 1824 Series, a quartet of bottlings differentiated by the whisky’s color (as well as its price). The Glenlivet, in addition to its two new non-age-declared offerings in the U.S., recently unveiled an expression called Founder’s Reserve to the U.K. and Germany; it is reportedly being teed up to replace the distillery’s benchmark 12-year-old.

Although distillers spin the move away from age declarations as “innovation,” skeptics have been quick to suss out the pragmatism at play. The growing global thirst for whisky has left the Scotch industry struggling to keep up with demand, especially when it comes to older liquids, and age statements can leave distillers with their hands tied, unable to produce a given bottling without a sufficient quantity of whisky that has met the particular age hurdle.