Tuesday 8 January 2008

(Not at all) Weekly Whiskey Miscellany

Is 12 the new 10?

Kevin Erskine asks if whiskey is suffering from age inflation. Are 12 year old expressions becoming more common than 10? Is the reason for this quality or marketing? There are some interesting responses from industry insiders.

I don't think we can say much on this topic by looking at the Irish whiskey market. There aren't enough quality bottlings to draw a statistically valid conclusion.

Cooley's age statements probably haven't settled down yet given the hiatus in distillation back in '93-'95.

Irish Distillers' recently-launched premium whiskey went the "vintage" route instead (i.e. only the year of bottling was declared rather than the age of the whiskey).

As for Bushmills, they are busy building up stocks since the purchase by Diageo so we don't yet know how their age profile will play out in the years ahead.

Clear Whiskey

Irish whiskey must be aged at least three years, by law. The same goes for Scotch. The colour of the final product comes from this barrel aging (sometimes helped along with caramel colouring).

An American company is launching a colourless whiskey called Death's Door. According to the article it is unaged. I don't know enough about the law in the US to say whether that is legal or if they have, in fact, aged the whiskey for a month in an enormous barrel to minimise the effect.

A new whiskey site and encyclopaedia

Ian Buxton is a well-known name in the Scotch industry. He has recently launched two sites devoted to whiskey. One is The Whisky Channel which aims to be a social network for whiskey nuts. The other is the Whiskipedia, an online encyclopaedia of all things whiskey.

Both of these endeavours are still under active development and they rely for content on user contributions so they haven't reached critical mass yet. Worth keeping an eye on though.