People who say “age is but a number”:
1) NAS supporters
Am I equating NAS supporters with sexual predators? Yes. Yes I am.
My beef isn’t with distilleries on this one. They’re businesses. Massive great big fuck off corporations. Louis Vuitton own Ardbeg. Jack Daniels own Glendronach. Diageo own fucking everyone. They have shareholders to please. They have cocaine to buy. They need profit and they need it now. Malt and blends got popular in 2011 (blends are still £500 million down a year from where they were in 2011) and they didn’t have enough supply to meet demand. So, choices, choices. Increase prices? No-one likes that. Decrease the age statement? Bit obvious. Then some douche from the marketing department hits on a great plan. He probably bought an R8 with his bonus. Why not just remove the age statement, dilute it with some young stuff (we’ve got loads of that) and punt it out. We’ll put together some glossy branding and everyone’s a winner. The distilleries have never shied away from the truth on this one. Every brand ambassador I’ve spoken has been completely open “we were running low on stock and wanted to introduce younger whisky”. Fair play. Well, /fuck you/, but fair play for being honest.
So, the age statements start to go away. Macallan introduce the stripper range: Gold, Ruby, Amber, Sienna, Candy. I may have made that last one up. Removing the age gives distilleries completely free range to put in whatever they want, and change the recipe at any point. Release it full of amazing sherried 20 year old whisky, get the reviews in, change it next batch to 3 year old bourbon cask? No problem. No-one’s done that, to my knowledge, yet, but it’s allowable. They’ve changed single malts from being all about geeky detail, cask types, barley types, barrel number, into blends without the grain. Consistent, profitable, dull. Lovely marketing. Also, they increased the price as an extra fuck you.
So, of course, twitter saw straight through this bullshit. Nice try, multi billion corporations, but we’re not falling for that shit. Give us age statements or give us death. All NAS releases were boycotted. Brand ambasadors openly booed when they tried to explain it. Long and detailed blog posts leading the charge. Petitions. Marches on the streets. It was probably a bit far when the head of marketing at Dalmore was first against the wall, but it was just passion that got out of hand.
Oh, shit, no. These idiots fucking lapped it up. “it’s all about the taste not the age”. Great. If you have the time and money to taste every whisky released. Good luck with that. Why do you hate information? What possible reason could you have not to want to know what’s in the thing you’re spending £50 on? Are these people masochists? Do they pay dominatrixes to tread on their balls? Do they scribble out the remaining age statements and replace them with house names? Who hurt you? I’ve genuinely seen people state, in all seriousness, that they trust the master blender who would never lead them astray. I love and respect those guys, but come on. Every distillery has released some stinkers. Some great distilleries have released utter shit. It’s fine, shit happens, we just try and avoid those.
Finally, before some moron pipes up, no, obviously not all NAS releases are shit. Some of my all time favourite whiskes are NAS. But them telling me the age wouldn’t make them any worse, that’s for sure.