Whisky words: Age statement
An age statement states the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle.
A 12-year-old blended Scotch whisky, for example, may include whiskies of many ages but the youngest one in the bottle will be 12 years old.
The “age” in age statement refers to the length of the maturation process. That is, the number of years spirit has spent in a cask (or casks) before being bottled.
A clear spirit – called new make – is what oak casks are initially filled with during the Scotch whisky production process. Only after three years can this liquid be legally called whisky. (New make spirit has a strength of about 70% ABV and is diluted to around 63-64% before being put into the casks chosen for maturation.)
While age statements tend to be clearly visible on the labels of Scotch whisky when they are included, it is not actually a legal requirement to state the age.
Indeed, the emergence of No Age Statement (NAS) single malt whiskies in response to a more flavour-led market has arguably opened up new marketing possibilities for distilleries, especially when considering the shortage of maturing casks.
(No age statement simply refers to whisky from casks of unstated ages. Of course, the fact it is "whisky" means, by law, that it has been matured for at least three years. Anything younger would still be classed as new make spirit.)
Does age matter? Most Scotch whisky drinkers seem to think so. But why are we so pre-occupied with the age statement? Read the piece by Iain Russell.