When it Comes to Whiskey, Does Age Matter?

Whiskey Barrel Aging

Age definitely matters when it comes to getting your driver’s license, being able to vote, and ordering your first drink. But, does age matter in whiskey distilling? Rumor has it that the older the whiskey, the better it’ll taste–especially when we’re talking about scotch. The jury is out to discover once and for all, does age matter in whiskey distilling and tasting?

Historically Speaking

When discussing whiskey aging, it’s important to remember that there are several different varieties, some of which haven’t been around for more than 60 years (single malt whiskey we’re looking at you). Aging was a sign of craftsmanship in distilling. Waiting for 10-plus years to taste a whiskey was a sign of dedication and, as many other distillers would argue, an art.

As aged whiskey becomes more popular, distillers didn’t have large stockpiles waiting to quench the thirst of the masses. Looking at Irish whiskey, American distributors have noticed a 736 percent growth in high-end whiskey and a 3,456 percent growth in the super-premium Irish whiskey since 2002. This drastic increase is a prime example of the updraft in demand for whiskey and why distillers were suffering from shortages.

What is No-Age-Statement Whiskey?

As the name implies, no-age-statement whiskey does not indicate how long the beverage is left to age in a barrel. Distillers focus mostly on flavor profiles and not on older aging processes to bring out those complexities. The public ended up loving no-age-statement whiskey. In 2017, more than half of the top 20 whiskies of the year were classified as no-age-statement whiskies.

Depending on who you talk to, the process of aging whiskey is an art. Others may tell you that distilling whiskey for several decades is an outdated technique. Really, both these points of view boil down to personal preference.

The truth is, whether your taste buds prefer a whiskey that is aged in an oak barrel for several years or for decades, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that distillers are praised for their impeccable craftsmanship and create exciting new spirits to challenge current norms. Happy tasting!