Does NAS mean NAS-ty?
You would think with all the public moaning many whisky bloggers, writers and commentators have been doing that No Age Statement (NAS) whisky is awful, all of it, no matter what, but for me that's simply not the case and although I'd love to see more whisky producers put age statements or vintages on bottlings, even the young ones, there definitely needs to be a moment where people take a step back and really look at the situation.
Before i get into this too much though I do have to say that there are some NAS hiskies out there that really arent great, that are over priced and filled with poor quality liquid. But then there have always been bottlings out there that have been over priced and filled with poor quality liquid, no matter whether it had an age statement or not.
Then it comes down to personal taste and opinion, for instance the Bruichladdich Rocks, I know many people who really enjoyed this dram, but for me it was filled with substandard liquid that had been finished in ine casks to hide how bad it was, and with wine finishes which i'm not hugely keen on anyway it certainly didn't help.
Everyone has their own tastes and likes and dislikes and it's wrong to force opinions on each other so why can't we just drink the ones we like and not drink the ones we don't?
There are some superb examples of great NAS whisky out on the market like, in my opinion, Talisker Dark Storm, Aberlour a'bunadh, Glendronach Cask Strength and many more.
If you aren't sure on whether that NAS whisky is any good or not then the easy answer to is try it, go to your local specialist retailer, order samples from Master of Malt, stop at the whisky bar in Duty Free and ask to try them, if they have samples in stock they will help you. It then comes down to asking yourself "Do I like this whisky enough to pay the price for it?" and if the answer is yes then it's all good.
It is here that i think there is a great issue with NAS whisky as people have differing opinions on what is or is not value for money, partly due to their own tastes. I recently tried a Dalmore Distillery Exclusive which i thought was a great dram, was NAS and is only available at the distillery for £150 a bottle. To me it's worth it, it's a great whisky and i would happily pay that, but other whisky bloggers did not agree with that opinion of value for money.
With each persons personal tastes, and onetary backing, comes the ability to choose whether a particular bottle is to their taste and worth the money being asked. If not, then simply don't buy it, but it needs to be remembered that many people will buy on taste and not on the age on the outside of the bottle.
Age can sometimes be used as justification for higher costs, but it is certainly not an indication of better quality.
In summary, if you like the whisky and its in your value price range then go for it, if you like it but think it's overpriced, then market conditions may dictate that the price is the correct value. I would like to see more openness about the contents of the bottles in terms of age and vintage but it may put people off from buying, e.g. for Glen Whathisface 10 year old it's £30 a bottle, but for Glen Whathisface 7 year old it's £38 a bottle and some people would instantly refuse to buy it, despite the fact the 7 year old is matured in casks that cost 10x that of the 10 year old, or that they were in specially made casks, or like anything that is a limited release (yes i know this is yet another subject - 500 bottles is a limited release but is 3000, or 12000 etc) the price goes up.
The decision to buy whisky should always be yours, commentators and bloggers give opinions but they are only that, opinions, and the one you should believe is your own.
I've included notes below of all the whiskies mentioned in this article.
Aberlour aBunadh Batch 45
The Aberlour Tweet Tasting organised by Steve Rush (@thewhiskywire) gave me the chance to try this lovely Aberlour a'bunadh Batch 45.
This non age statement cask strength dram is on batch 45 and weighs in at an almight 60.2% ABV, it's a cracker of a dram and although i believe Batch 45 will have sold out in many places you can get batch 46 or later which will all have these wonderful sherried notes and be just as excellent on the bang for your buck scale.
I absolutely love the nose on this it's fresh prunes and fresh plums with dried fruits and touches of demerera sugar and some fruit cake with some fresh pine needles and sour dough
fruity dried fruits especially with a little rubber that really works in this for me and lots of melon and raisin and plum
fresh fruit salad & demerera sugar
Picked This up after Christmas and wished i hadn't.
The Nose is amazing but the metallic taste from the wine cask maturation ruined it totally for me
Dalmore The Distillery Exclusive 2015
This Distillery Exclusive from The Dalmore is a dram I was really excited about, it's not often we get higher strength The Dalmore so with no chill filtering, and hopefully no colouring, this is a really exciting dram, Limited edition with only 450 numbered bottles available, this is quite an exclusive dram.
Sweet and salty, this comes across like a good sherry influence but actually a collection of port, Moscatel and Madeira casks were used to mature this whisky in, before finally being finessed in first fill bourbon barrels.
The madiera really has come through stronger the extra abv gives this a really awesome mouthfeel that you don't get from the standard bottlings, this really is worth picking up if you are at the distillery and have the £150 spare.
Thanks to The Dalmore for the official sample.
Sweet and salty there's some real lovely sweet fruit cake sherry notes but with that salty nutty note that comes with some sherries, hints of bitter dark chocolate mousse with a hint of good quality rare cooked steak.
Much more of that sweet and saltyness from the nose, the sweetness is yet again Fruit cake with the Demerara sugar and treacle, and then the salty nuttiness that I get from oloroso sherry.
Sweet sugary fruit and salty peanuts
GlenDronach Cask Strength Batch 4
The last batches of this Glendronach Cask Strength have been fabulous and i expected no less for this one.
Wow this is a dram that keeps on giving, hugely spicy and peppery with lots of underlying sweetness and vanilla, really powerful,dram that you really can sit and enjoy.
Very good pricing for such a powerful dram and one I highly recommend you try
Thanks to Glendronach for the official sample
Super sweet, with hints of sweet and slightly bitter orchard fruits of bramley Apple and pears, vanilla buttercream and hints of treacle toffees and sweet summer berry sauce, edges of nutmeg come through also
Spicy and peppery, quite dry with lots of woody, oaky notes, hints of wood sap and light syrup
Drying, spicy, peppery and sweet vanilla
Talisker Dark Storm
I'm always interested in new whiskies so when i seen this Talisker Dark Storm i was really hopeful that it took on the idea of the Talisker Storm and went further with it.
I really was hoping for an islay level peated dram, which this isnt, but it's certainly a very nice dram and i would happily have a bottle of this in front of the standard Talisker Storm, and maybe even instead of the Talisker 10.
This dram is only available from Travel Retail (Duty Free) in a 1L bottle form from places such as World of Whiskies
Thanks to Talisker for the official sample of this dram
I was expecting, well hoping for, a really big peat smoke nose but it's a lot lighter than that, stronger than the original storm, hints of light peat with a sweetness underlying thats got a hit of sweet sherry fruits light fresh and similar to the distillers edition
good sweet cigar smoke and the same underlying sweetness as the nose with hints of sweet sherry and tropical fruits
more tropical fruits along with a whiff of cigar ash