We’ve all been nagging on and off about NAS whiskies, their exorbitant pricing and lack of quality. And yes, that’s a massive generalization but that’s what it boils down according to many.
This discussion didn’t get a lot of traction until Lukasz joined the fray. This was the first time an industry professional agitated against something that his direct employers were also doing on a fairly large scale. A gutsy move.
Of course, the SWA acts like they’re in an ivory tower, but this tower is heavily supported by many of the larger players in the whisky industry. Now, a source close to the SWA has informed me that guidelines will be adopted to prevent this NAS versus age statement discussion will ever happen again and they’re going for the middle ground.
According to my source (who, of course, wishes to remain anonymous) the following will be applied from the start of 2015. Labels will have to indicate in which of the following categories a whisky falls:
- Whisky Labels will not display the age of the spirit in years.
- A label can contain only the following information regarding “age”
- NAS (meaning: we do not disclose any information about the whisky inside, save that it’s 3 years and older)
- Young (3-8 years)
- Mature – (8-18 years)
- Old (18-30 years)
- Very Old (30 years +)
The SWA prides themselves that they guard the ‘tradition’ of whisky making and are limiting new inventions to guard the style and technology that made Scotch what it is today. This falls in their portfolio too, since labelling whiskies with an age statement is something that only became popular after World War II and before that was only marginally applied.
Before prohibition it was generally not done to state an age on a whisky bottle, mostly since casks were only used for transportation. According to the SWA: “Age statement is really a new phenomenon, which started mainly in the 20th century”. By going for the above categorization, they indicate that age will no longer be stated, but an indication will be given to a whisky’s maturity. According to my source in the SWA, a lot of producers that have been approached by the SWA, many see the merits of these new rules.
I’m not sure what to think of it, since I like whiskies with an age on it. Also, what does stand out to me is that there is no mention of a vintage no longer being applied. It’s just concerning the age of a whisky, not the year it was distilled in. It seems that there still is a way to be a bit more exact on a label after all.