More distilleries releasing no age statement whiskies to meet demand

While the Scotch whisky industry has emblazoned bottles with the whisky's age for decades, more distilleries are releasing no age statement whiskies, omitting the age altogether.

This is because distilleries around the world are facing low stocks and the way to keep up with demand seems to be no age statement expressions, which contain a blend of whiskies of various ages.

In these blends, qualities such as maturation techniques and flavour profiles are highlighted instead of the age.

Islay single malt Scotch whisky distillery Laphroaig is the latest to put out a no age statement whisky called Lore, which has been available in Singapore since last month. It retails at $217 at selected whisky retailers and bottle shops.

The whisky has a nose of seaside minerals, smoke, fudge and vanilla.

The trademark Laphroaig peatiness comes through when tasted. It is described as "richly peaty with a spicy chilli bite", offering a "short, dry" finish and a "long, sweet" aftertaste.

While Laphroaig's reputation as an Islay icon precedes it, distillery manager John Campbell and Lore creator says the expression was about determining what exactly makes a bottle a Laphroaig.

"It's a very simple question, but I tried to think about what was in all the good Laphroaigs I'd tried," he says, speaking to The Sunday Times from the distillery.

He settled on four key components - it had to be peaty, fruity, floral and dry.

Six whiskies, ranging from eight to 21 years old, make up the final blend. These include whiskies aged in first-fill bourbon barrels, quarter casks and Oloroso Sherry hogsheads.

He says that the younger spirits, such as an eight-year-old whisky matured in ex-bourbon barrels and a 10-year-old double matured in European oak, are added to the blend for the peatiness, while the 21-year-old matured in ex-bourbon barrels was to "give it some tropical fruit and some body and depth".

The 46-year-old Ileach - an Islay native - admits that coming up with a new expression for a 200-year- old brand was a challenge.

It took him almost two years to develop Lore from idea to finished product.

"With a no age statement, the platform is wide open, it's harder to make and it takes longer to produce as well," he says.

The distillery is always planning ahead with aged stocks, such as with the ever-popular Laphroaig 10-year-old.

"We have to get creative with what we've got," he says.

But even then he enjoys not being confined to a particular age.

He says: "I find it really creative, making a no age statement whisky, whereas with an aged statement, you're trying to do similar things but you have to keep in the back of your mind that it's linked to that age profile. When you're drinking an 18-year-old, it has to taste like an 18-year-old."

But he is well aware that Laphroaig drinkers care deeply about the whisky.

"They will absolutely let me know what they think. They've got very strong opinions on what it should be, what it is and what it means to them," he says. "But generally, the response so far has been amazing."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 03, 2016, with the headline 'Shush, don't ask this whisky for its age'. Print Edition | Subscribe