Whisky age statements make industry “lazy”

11th September, 2012 by Becky Paskin

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.

4 Responses to “Whisky age statements make industry “lazy””

  1. DavidUK says:

    Macallan are only coming out with this spin now because they are short of older whisky in casks. I will only believe they are sincere if they rebrand all their expressions with no age statement.

  2. paul says:

    Funny how “age statements have made us very lazy and one-dimensional” yet they are only using non age statements on their young whiskies. For some reason everything older than 18 will retain the NUMBER on the bottle. Hipocrites!!!! Its easier to sell an NAS bottle (with whisky <10yo) for a higher price than a bottle of 10yo, but luxury level prices REQUIRE age statements.

    If they had enough mid aged spirit (10-15 years) in their warehouses we wouldn't be hearing about age statements being one dimensional!

  3. […] dispute over aging statements in the scotch industry, when Macallan Brand Ambassador Joy Elliot said “Age statements have made [scotch-makers] very lazy and one-dimensional” at the launch of their 1824 Series Gold label. Elliot went on to explain how there are better ways […]

  4. buggs says:

    Precisely why Macallan no longer is listed as my favorite distillery. Shenanigans are nothing more than that. It’s nice to fluff and blow smoke about but all they’ll do is lose my business. Age statements have never been one dimensional rather they are a single dimension. I can only assume Ms. Elliot is too young to recall the fine oak and sherry oak series of oh so long ago. Wait, I can still buy those. Oops. Age is a reflection of physics, nothing more, nothing less. Whisky in Scotland requires longer to age than it does in India because of temperature. That time allows for the interaction with the cask which is what imparts the profile to the whisky in question. The industry is indeed quite lazy in many sectors, largely because they were unprepared for their own success and now their scrambling to re-write how things work to maintain sales of inferior (NAS) product. Ride that brand recognition for all it’s worth because it’s fading already.

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