No Age Statement Scotch
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Best No Age Statement Scotch Whisky

 

The Fifty Best No Age Statement Scotch Tasting of 2016

 

The Tasting:
The Fifty Best held a “blind” tasting of fourteen No Age Statement Scotch whiskies with a panel of 18 judges. Strict tasting rules were applied. The order of service was established beforehand by lottery. The scotch whiskies were poured into fresh glasses from new sealed bottles, and served at slightly above room temperature. Only ice water, neutral unflavored crackers and chips were available to cleanse the palate. Water droppers were provided to the judges for the option of adding water to the whiskies.

The judges wrote down their impressions of each product on score sheets. The scoring was done on a 5-point system, with 5 as the best. Double-Gold, Gold and Silver medals are awarded according to a set range of final point scores received from the judges. There were no Bronze medals awarded for this tasting. The tasting notes that follow are summaries of the judges’ opinions, with all replicated commentary eliminated.



DOUBLE-GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

Aberlour A’bunadh
(Speyside) Spanish Oloroso sherry butts. Original cask strength.

Nose: Sugarcane, brown sugar, demerara, honey, molasses, vanilla, cream, mocha, ripe fruit, pear, tropical fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, malt, oaky, burnt wood.
Palate: Caramel, chocolate, honey, dates, raisin, dried candied fruit, dried dark fruit, apple, citrus, basil, tarragon, nutmeg, strong spice, Szechuan peppercorn, port, sherry, woody, oak, cedar, dessert scotch, rum-like, round, bold, rich.
Finish: Honey, creamy, spicy berries, pineapple, figs, raisins, dried blueberries, dried fruit, light grain, spice, nutmeg, coffee, PX Sherry, tobacco, oak, balanced.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



   Aberlour A’bunadh



Glenmorangie Signet
(Highlands) White American oak barrels.

Nose: Caramel, molasses, vanilla, honey, berries, peach, apple, citrus, lemon, light fruit, figs, raisin, herbal, sweet malt, cereal, oatmeal, wheat, oak.
Palate: Toffee, honey, Baker’s chocolate candied fruit, red fruit, berries, orange, dried fruit, raisins, cereal, grain, straw, floral, heather, sandalwood, almond, basil, mint, spicy, white pepper up front, nutmeg, woody, sweet oak, smooth, silky, elegant.
Finish: Peach, dried apricot, maple, cereal, grain, softly spicy, briny, tannic, oak, woody, flavorful, soft, mellow, nice, beautiful.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Glenmorangie Signet



Ardbeg Corryvreckan
(Islay)

Nose: Honey, fruity, cooked rice, buttery, peaty, brine, cedar, smoky, burnt pine, charred wood.
Palate: Brown sugar, honey, vanilla, fruity, cherry, sweet banana, citrus, smoked almonds, toast, malt, mocha, spicy, peppery, tobacco, iodine, smoky, peat, wood, smooth, very well balanced, bold, powerful.
Finish: Caramel, honey, dried fruit, toasted, cured ham, salted pork, toasted seaweed, sea salt, spicy, smoke, crisp, soft, smooth.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Ardbeg  Corryvreckan



Wemyss Malts Spice King
(Highland)

Nose: Honey, molasses, vanilla, creamy, apple, orange peel, dried fruit, bread, wheat, heather, moss, nuts, nutmeg, mocha, peat, earth, burnt smoke, woody, pine, oak.
Palate: Toffee, creamy, buttery, vanilla, honey, candied fruit, black currant, citrus, raisins, dried fruit, malt, floral, dandelion, licorice, anise, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, spice, peaty, smoke, oak, nicely balanced, nice round body, soft, intense, classic, perfect.
Finish: Honey, molasses, grain, ginger, pepper, clove, lingering spice, salinity, hint of iodine, light peat, pine smoke, mild cedar, oak, well-balanced, soft, flavorful, powerful, very well done, delicious.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Wemyss Malts Spice King



Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney
(Islay)

Nose: Toffee, caramel, peaches, lime, floral, heather, stone ground wheat, tobacco, spicy, sea breeze, maritime, seaweed, spicy peat, smoky, oak, cedar.
Palate: Butterscotch, caramel, mocha, vanilla, honey, meringue, red fruit, dark fruit, pineapple, burnt orange, citrus peel, raisins, Cheerios, cereal, wheat, spicy, light smoke, oak, cedar, complex, savory, rustic.
Finish: Taffy, creamy, raisins covered in yogurt, lemon peel, cumin, spicy, tobacco, peaty, smoke, oak, bold, soft, smooth.

Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Wemyss Malts Peat Chimney



Wolfburn
(North Shore) Non-Chill Filtered. Selected oak casks.

Nose: Peaches, melon, grapes, grapefruit, banana, creamy, citrus peel, bubblegum, leather, brine, peat, light smoke, burnt wood, cedar, soft, forest in the morning.
Palate: Honey, creamy, marzipan, citrus, red fruits, raisins, wintergreen, celery, clove, spice, pipe tobacco, briny, salinity, peaty, light peat, smoky, cedar, smooth, silky.
Finish: Marzipan, banana, dried fruit, lemon peel, almond, clove, dried grass, brine, peaty, smoke cedar, sea breeze, soft, perfect balance of fruit smoke and peat.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



Wolfburn Single Malt Scotch Whisky



The Macallan Rare Cask
(Highland) First fill sherry oak casks.

Nose: Caramel, vanilla, creamy dark chocolate, dark fruit, dried dates, dried fruit, floral, sandalwood, clove, sweet sherry, iodine, briny, toasted oak, wood.
Palate: Caramel, toffee, creamy, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, mixed fruit, apples, citrus, dried fruit, dark raisins, honeysuckle, nutty, mint, spicy, clove, pepper, dry black tea, tobacco, malty, grain, cereal, corn whiskey, Bourbon-forward, sherry, oak, smooth, silky, complex, mature.
Finish: Caramel, sweet candy, cherries, sweet peach, citrus, grain, mint, cinnamon, clove, slightly spicy, briny, cedar, oaky, well balanced, smooth sherry finish, perfect finish.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



The Macallan Rare Cask



The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve
(Highland)

Nose: Toffee, honeycomb, honey, vanilla, Baker’s chocolate, candied apple, apple, apricot, sweet orange, banana, dried pear, dried figs, floral, malt, oak, cereal, peat.
Palate: Toffee, caramel, fudge, dark chocolate, brown sugar, marzipan, honey, berries, banana, dried fruit, dried dark fruit, mint, clove, cinnamon, leather, tobacco, sherry, port, oak, soft, balanced.
Finish: Brown sugar, light honey, apple, dried raisins, dried fruit, nuts, almonds, spice, heather, tannic, mild smoke, oak, well balanced, very nice.


Double Gold Medal
Double Gold medal



The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve



GOLD MEDAL WINNERS

The Dalmore King Alexander III
(Highland) Caramel, honey, dark sugar, candied fruit, cherry, banana, lemon, orange peel, dried fruit, cream, cocoa, almond, nutty, grain, moss, peat, charred oak, oak, cedar, mild wood.
Palate: Caramel, brown sugar, honey, rounded vanilla, orange, dried pineapple, raisins, chocolate, malty, nutty, ginger, slightly spicy, pepper, tea, sweet tobacco, slight peat, cigar box, woody, oaky, smooth.
Finish: Caramel, smoked candied fruit, peppermint, spicy, cinnamon, cereal, malt, heavy grass, woody, oak, balanced, smooth, rich.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



The Dalmore King Alexander III



Ardbeg Uigeadail
(Islay) Non Chill-Filtered

Nose: Honey, ripe cherries, dried fruit, brown flowers, cut grass, nutmeg, clove, earthy, briny, the sea, iodine, peaty, smoky, charcoal, oak.
Palate: Caramel, fudge, honey, apple, pineapple, raisins, corn, spice, maritime, briny, woodsy, cigar box, peat, smoke, cedar, oak, bold.
Finish: Smoked salmon, smoked ham, cereal, spicy, tannic, iodine, strong peat, ashes, soft smoke, more wood, mouth-filling, smooth, beautiful.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Ardbeg Uigeadail



Weymss Malts The Hive
(Speyside)

Nose: Vanilla, cream, Nutella, honey, Meyer lemon, citrus, melon peel, dried fruit, floral, grain, tobacco, brine, sweet oak.
Palate: Honey, dark sugar, creamy, vanilla, dried apricot, dried fruit, orange peel, lemon peel, citrus, floral, grain, straw, nutty, anise, basil, cinnamon, spice, malt, sherry, cigar tobacco, leather, mineral, oak.
Finish: Vanilla, dried apricot, dried fruit, malt, lovely minerality, mild peat, oak, well-balanced, nice, smooth.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Weymss Malts The Hive



Glencadam, Origin 1825
(Highland) A unique marriage of American white oak bourbon barrels with Spanish Oloroso sherry butts.

Nose: Toffee, honey, creamy, vanilla, apples, peaches, citrus, tropical fruit, banana, dried fruit, candied fruit, cola, floral, lemongrass, nutty, baked goods, light grains, grappa, cognac.
Palate: Toffee, creamy, vanilla, pineapple, banana, tropical fruit, apple, grapey, lemon peel, Airheads candy, raspberry leaf, grass, spicy, pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, mineral water, mineral, oak, grappa, fresh, very well balanced, quite approachable, silky, smooth.
Finish: Soft apricot, banana, candied fruit, creamy, grain, tobacco, salinity, oak, clean, smooth, fantastic.


Gold Medal
Gold medal



Glencadam Origin 1825



SILVER MEDAL WINNERS

Glen Moray Elgin Classic
Chardonnay Cask Finish

(Speyside)

Nose: Heather honey, green apple, dried fruits, orange peel, floral, straw, sweetened coffee, sherry, leather, briny, iodine, light smoke, oak.
Palate: Toffee, buttery, honey, apple, raisin, chamomile, sprouts, radish, spicy, nutmeg, complex leather, light peat, sweet woody, cedar, oak, smooth, very well crafted.
Finish: Orange, spicy orange peel, lavender, heather, mint, cinnamon, peaty, cedar, oak, honest mature, great finish.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Glen Moray Elgin Classic Chardonnay Cask Finish



Glen Moray Elgin Classic Peated Single Malt
(Speyside)

Nose: Honey, charred orange, burnt fruit, flowery, tea, grass, mint, spice, malt, lager, seawater, leather, damp embers, light peat, smoke.
Palate: Honey, nectar, creamy, burnt orange, dried fruit, citrus, floral, anise, ginger, spicy, peppery, tobacco, leather, smoked salmon, sweet oak, cedar, peaty, smoky, smooth, complex, easy to drink.
Finish: Light candied fruit, honey, orange peel, melon, floral, spice, tobacco, cedar, light smoke, balanced, smooth.


Silver Medal
Silver medal



Glen Moray Elgin Classic Peated Single Malt

 

 


 

The earliest known reference of spirits distilling in Scotland is 1494, but it can be assumed that it was practiced there much earlier. There are now over 100 malt distilleries in Scotland producing malts that can be called “Scotch”. To bear that appellation, a whisky must be distilled and matured in oak barrels for at least three years in Scotland. The term “Scotch” is proprietary – but the term “Single Malt Whisky” can be applied to malt whiskies produced in other countries. Single malt scotch is produced at one distillery, using only malted barley as the grain, and distilled in copper pot stills.

The difference between single malt and blended scotch is that blends contain multiple combinations of single malts and neutral grain spirits. Single malts were first widely exported in the 1960s, and age was touted in an effort to imply superiority over the blends that consumers were used to. Before about 1980 almost all single malt inventories were used for producing blended whiskies, and by the 1980s, during the Golden Age of Vodka, demand for whisky in general had plummeted to the point where many Scottish distilleries and suppliers closed their doors. Although blended scotch is still dominant in volume, the current trend is towards single malt scotch, which has seen rapid growth through explosive Global demand in recent years. Most brands are now over-demanded by 30% to 50%.

For decades, when it comes to single malt scotch whisky, we tend to pick our favorites based on how long they've sat in a barrel: the Talisker 18 year old or Glenfiddich 12, for example. A reformation is quietly under way with a mysterious new crowd making their appearance, and their labels are prominently numeral-free. Increasingly, brands are introducing a relatively new category called "no age statement" (or "non-age-stated") whiskies. These expressions offer a different take on a favorite brand, where things like maturation techniques, a specific flavor profile or other character take precedence over age. Instead of an age statement, these spirits are generally given names to explain their focus, like "Traditional Cask", "Four Wood" or "Small Batch Reserve", or unusual Gaelic names.

Why the change? Most if not all single malts are blended. By Scottish law, an age statement on the bottle must state the youngest age of the blend. That's easy if all the barrels you're incorporating have been aging for example 10 years. But if you've got a blend that's mostly 30-year-old whisky tempered with just a touch of a four-year-old distillate, you have to call the whole thing a four-year. That makes it hard to convince consumers to spend a couple hundred bucks on your rare dram, when it looks like a young whisky based on the label. The age of a product is just one way to determine the character of the whisky, but it doesn't always tell you about the quality. With no age statement, distillers and blenders can marry a large variety of casks together to create innovative flavor profiles and unusual expressions, without being constrained by having to write the youngest age on the bottle. It allows distillers to show a extraordinary spectrum, depth and complexity of their products that one doesn't necessarily get from age alone. While innovation will always continue to be a part of the market, the classic aged-stated expressions will remain unchanged.

The bottom line is that there are many other factors besides vintage to consider when selecting a scotch. If you like the taste, then it’s the right thing for you – and don’t be so concerned about age.

 

 

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Comments or questions welcome, please e-mail to: editor@thefiftybest.com

 

Comments and Suggestions:

 
Thu. December 22, 2016 4:54 PM - by: Ken Lindsay
Blended scotch whisky is absolutely not a combination of many single malts and "neutral grain spirits". Nothing could be further from the truth! Grain scotch whisky is matured in quality oak casks and is every bit as important to any blend as the malt whisky components. An oversight or maybe just lack of research?
 
 


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