The last decade has seen a new kind of whiskey emerge which eschews the traditional adage of ‘older is best’ with a stronger focus consistency and price point. These No-Age-Statement whiskeys have always existed but now they have become the most common type of bottling and span a variety of price points.
Distilleries will usually tell you that their NAS releases are designed to offer more ‘flavour-led’ experience but the harsh reality in most cases is that it boils down to lack of mature stock and a desire to maximise profits. The more savvy producers are thankfully releasing some very drinkable bottlings that do a very good job of being price competitive, whilst simultaneously introducing newer drinkers to wonderful world of whiskey!
The best examples of these give the drinker something a bit different. That could be a special ‘finishing’ period in wine casks or sherry casks, higher ‘cask strength’ bottling or simply a good price point.
Teeling Brabazon Single Malt Irish Whiskey
€78 – Available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
Transparency is very admirable when it comes whiskey, and fair play to Teeling who have been very open about the components used to make up their Brabazon Bottling. The youngest malt here was distilled in 2008 with the oldest coming from 2002.
If this were to carry an age statement it could be described as a 9 year-old but in reality it is far better than such an age would suggest.
The rub here being that some high-quality sherry casks have been used for most of the maturation period giving the whiskey a richness and complexity rarely seen in no-age-statement whiskeys. If that sounds good then pick up a bottle soon. Only 12,500 bottles have been released of this limited edition first release.
Green Spot Single Pot Still Irish Whiskey
€59.99 – Available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
A classic Irish single pot still that has long been labelled without an age statement although originally it was bottled at 10 years-old.
The modern bottling contains whiskeys aged for 7-12 years with 25% being matured in ex-sherry casks.
The result is a fresh and lively whiskey with vibrant tropical fruit flavours.
You can also find an alternative Green Spot that has been finished in Bordeaux casks from Chateau Leoville Barton which offers up a slightly more spicy and oak driven taste experience.
Aberlour A’Bunadh Speyside Single Malt
€84.99 – Available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
Pronounced as ‘Ah-boon-ack’ meaning ‘the original’, this Speyside malt from Scotland has an almost cultish following with each new batch being heavily scrutinised upon release.
You really must like sherried whiskies to appreciate this because the cask influence is obvious.
All maturation is carried out in Oloroso sherry casks and the result is a rich and powerful whisky with flavours of allspice, dried fruits, cherries and orange peel.
One of the best examples of sherried style that once made distilleries such as Macallan famous. This one also gets bonus points for bottling at cask strength (typically around 60% for each batch).
Laphroaig PX Cask Triple Matured Islay Single Malt
€103.95 (1 l Bottle) – Available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
Laphroaig is one of the classic Islay distilleries with a signature peat smoke character that may be too much for some.
For others, it is a warming and rich single malt that packs a punch full of big flavours. This ‘PX’ expression was originally released as a travel retail exclusive and has been matured in traditional American oak, small quarter casks and super-sweet Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
There is no information offered on the age of the component whiskeys but the PX casks clearly add some richness and ‘apparent’ maturity to the taste experience. It is now considered by many to be one of the best in the Laphroaig range.
(Joker in the Pack) Lagavulin 8 Year-Old 200th Anniversary Edition Islay Single Malt
€82.50 – Available at the Celtic Whiskey Shop
Included in this selection because it could have easily been released as a NAS whisky but in many ways it could pave the way back to proper age statements!
When famous whisky writer Alfred Barnard visited Lagavulin in the 1880s he described the distillery’s 8 year-old as ‘exceptionally fine’, therefore when it came to releasing a whisky to celebrate the distillery’s anniversary an 8 year-old was the obvious choice.
Fans of Lagavulin were pleasantly surprised to find that this expression is almost as good as the more expensive 16 year-old. Proof that age is not everything when it comes to whisky!
This has flavours of pungent smoke combined with a smooth creamy texture and touches of vanilla, spicy oak, pear and citrus.
Celtic Whiskey Shop & Wines on the Green on Dublin’ Dawson Street is a multi award winning retailer and a mecca for any whiskey, wine or spirits lover. The store stocks a superb variety of Irish whiskey including many rare and exclusive bottlings. Expert staff serve up free whiskey tastings all day every day, and are on hand to offer any assistance you may need to purchase your favourite tipple. The store hosts a variety of exciting whiskey tastings each month.
Celtic Whiskey Bar & Larder Killarney is home to one of Ireland’s most expansive whiskey ranges, stocking an enormous selection of Irish and international whiskey, creative cocktails, Irish craft beers & spirits. Irish Whiskey Experience hosts a range whiskey masterclasses in Killarney and Dublin.