You may wonder when shopping for a single malt whisky, does age really matter in how it tastes? Each and every distillery label boasts a different age, but does it really make a difference? Is the 25-year-old single malt whisky better than the 18-year-old whisky? Why is whisky not like bread, the older it gets, the worse it smells and tastes?
When it comes to single malt whiskey, there are two things you can be certain about:
- First: The older whisky is a rare whisky
- Second: They are expensive – very expensive
For instance, the blended Scotch whisky made by Johnnie Walker Blue Label. The blends of whiskies in this one are at least 50-years-old and can cost as much as $300 and up. What makes a whisky so special that it is worth this high price tag?
Well, there are many reasons that the older a single malt whisky is the more it costs. The first reason being that the longer it sits in an oak cask, the more it matures and the more it evaporates. It is common for a Scottish distillery to lose two percent of its volume and as such, over a 25 year period, that is a lot of loss!
The time factor of creating a whiskey should be taken into account too. Twenty-five years is a long time for a product to be created before it can be bottled. To influence the flavor, sometimes whisky matures in different cask. Making a fine whisky is an art, a craft and the expertise and patience it takes is all a part of the price tag.
The Two Schools Of Whisky
There are two schools when it comes to the whisky industry. One school says “age matters” and the other school says “age doesn’t matter”. The majority of the big whisky producers will market a particular range of brands with various ages of 10 years, 12 years, 15 years, and 18 years old. They are each given a specific name to differentiate them.
For a distillery like Chivas Brothers, one of the most popular whisky brands on the market, they are from the ‘age matters’ school and market their whisky products on this school of thought. However, for the ‘age doesn’t matter’ school of thought, distilleries like Macallan have begun removing the age specification and instead name their younger single malts.
So, Does Age Matter?
Any true whisky aficionado will tell you yes – when it comes to what you can expect to pay for your whisky. But when it comes to taste, that is all a personal choice. An older whisky is more complex and will have more depth than a younger whisky.
As we discussed earlier in this piece, this is because of the evaporation process that makes for a richer taste and stronger smell. Think of it like when you are cooking a gravy or sauce. You allow it to simmer so that it makes it thicker, which gives it a better flavor. The same is to be said about the longer a whisky sits in the cask it becomes stronger in aroma and flavor. But it also loses some of its volumes. If you pre a strong taste to your whisky, then a single malt is not going to satisfy your taste buds.
Apples and Oranges
Trying to compare Scotch whisky blends with malt whisky is much like trying to compare apples and oranges. They are not the same and they were never meant to be the same. The single malt is in one distillery in pot stills from malted barley. The result is a distinctive flavor with a nuance that exemplifies the style of the distillery.
Whereas a blended scotch whisky is the result of several single malts combined with corn or wheat in column stills. This creates a product that is smooth and versatile, allowing various whisky styles to come together harmoniously in your glass.
The grain and the malt used in a blend are both important because it creates “glue” that holds the malt together. In a Scotch whisky, they are allowed to age in oak casks for at least three years. Blended scotch is the biggest type of scotch that is sold around the world, and has become more popular in Asia as well as Latin America recently. Read more on our homepage: bestdecantersets.com