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Whisky age statements make industry “lazy”

Age statements on whisky have made the industry “lazy and one-dimensional”, leaving a need for drinkers to be educated properly.

The Macallan 10 Year Old
The Macallan’s Gold in the new 1824 Series will replace its existing 10-17 Year Old whiskies

According to The Macallan, which will this month launch its ageless 1824 Series, the tendency for whisky producers to label their products with an age has misled consumers as to the quality of whisky in the bottle.

Speaking at the launch of The Macallan 1824 Series Gold, Joy Elliot, The Macallan brand ambassador, said the quality of a whisky should not be judged by its age, but rather by its character and flavour.

“Age statements have made us very lazy and one-dimensional,” she explained. “People have different palates and can each discern different flavours. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another. Right now whisky consumers believe an 18-year old is better than a 15-year old, and a 15 better than a 12, but it’s really all down to personal taste.

“Bob Dalgarno [whisky maker for The Macallan] wants to prove it’s not about age, but what’s in the glass and those whiskies that deliver character and flavour.”

The Macallan has prided itself over the years for refusing to add unnatural colouring to its whisky, preferring to allow its liquid to derive colour from the wood.

Joy added that as many consumers seemed to be unaware of the whisky-making process, the industry had a responsibility to educate buyers as to what true quality meant.

“There’s a big education job to do. We are the most modern market in terms of whisky, but we’ve still got a long way to go. An age statement doesn’t give you any clues as to quality, but this [The Macallan 1824 Series] is one of the ways around it.”

Despite claims last year that The Macallan 1824 Collection in global travel retail had not performed well due to its lack of age statement, Elliot claimed that since the change, sales of The Macallan had continued to grow, influencing other Scotch whisky producers to follow suit.

“This not only proves that consumers aren’t confused by the change, but that other companies think it’s a good idea too,” she said.

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