In our next regular feature to introduce this week, welcome to the start of #FibFridays, when we introduce a myth you might have often heard around whisky, either from some company within the industry or any unaware, perhaps often older drinker who wants to tell you how to drink your dram or what you should be drinking. We don’t believe in any of that - you should be able to drink what you want, how you like it - but it is always easier to enjoy better when you know more. Thus, in this weekly feature, Founder Aedan will apply his knowledge and experience, sometimes with the help of a bit of whisky science, to myth bust some of the more unhelpful rumours or outright falsehoods you might hear about your dram. In short, this is an excuse for us to really geek out about our whisky!
For our first fib of the week, drumroll please…
This is a big one also for the many new No Age Statement (NAS) expressions that have become the most common new releases over the last decade or so from most of the big brands. We will deal with NAS whiskies more specifically in a future post, even though Fib Whisky as part of our transparency policy only intends to release single cask expressions complete with age statements and also every other bit of info we can legally give you on the way. (Hint in advance for that one: people are worried that it’s an excuse to sell them younger whisky for high prices. Spoiler for our conclusion: they shouldn’t be, for a whole host of reasons.). Back to young whisky - first and foremost, it’s important to note that there are some incredible young whiskies out there, hundreds in fact, and we are so pleased to see them becoming more accepted and popular within the industry. Young spirit is often feistier and retains a lot more distillery character. This is because it has had much less time to interact with the wood and gain in particular tertiary characteristics (think some of the spicier and woody notes you may have found). Equally, it can take less out of the whisky. In a distillery known for being peaty, for example, this can therefore be an exceptionally good thing - the peat has more space to shine and the dram is lighter and fresher to emphasise these or other good characteristics we want to taste.
There is even an excellent anecdote we have heard: The distillery manager, warehouse manager, and stillman - all people who work with and love their spirit - over at the Caol Ila distillery over on Islay - were all caught once in a friendly argument. What about? Their personal preference of the best age for Caol Ila. The stillman argued hard for an 8 year old, the distillery manager for 6, the warehouse manager for as young as 5 (honestly, we forget who we were told actually argued each of the 3 ages, but the point remains for our purposes). Eventually, the stillman and distillery manager came round - after a few drams, of course - younger, fresher and feisty was better for their spirit. Of course, we all have our preferences, but surely the guys working with it should have some right to say they know what works? Personally, we’ve tried some sublime 6-8 year old Caol Ila over the years.
Of course, if a whisky has been in a barrel longer, more will have evaporated, and so there will be less of it and it has therefore cost the distillery (slightly) more to produce in practice. Older whisky will therefore be more expensive, that’s inevitable, unfortunately. But to us, all whiskies are just different. They are exciting and unique. That’s why you’ve got to try them, experience the taste. Who knows, your new favourite might even be that 4 year old from the Glasgow Distillery, 3 year old from Lindores, or even, dare we say it, just as young spirit from a distillery that’s been about for as long as the industry itself! Slàinte!