Is Aged Whiskey the best?
We have written about some very old and some very expensive whiskeys on this site. So the question has to be asked, do you need to find the oldest and most expensive whiskey to enjoy the best? Or is it a case of the emporers new clothes?
The producers of whiskey would probably argue that a great whiskey needs time to mature, to draw in those flavours. The other factors in pricing an old bottle of whiskey is time/money. By laying down a cask for over 50 years, you are having to wait a hell of a long time to see a return on your 50 year investment.
Even if the whiskey isn’t the best, you are going to have to pay a premium to taste it. We have always been sold on the fact that older is better and I am sure producers have taken advantage of this to sell their older whiskeys at an inflated rate.
So what do the experts say? Having spoken to several master distillers, they are of the opinion that in some cases older is better, but not always and an experienced master blender can produce an incredible tasting whiskey that is only a few years old.
There is debate amongst experts as to the optimum age for a whiskey. Corn and Rye based whiskeys are said to be at their best between the ages of 6 and 12. Scotch is placed at around 20 years.
Most experts agree that this is down to the age of the barrels used in the maturing process. American whiskey is normally matured in brand new casks and therefore takes less time for the flavours to be extracted. Scottish distillers favour used sherry, madeira and bourbon barrels. The older used casks have less flavour to be extracted and therefore the process takes much longer. Scottish distillers would argue that this gives the whiskey a better flavour, hence the older whiskey costing more. Japan uses japanese oak which has a very tight grain and therefore flavours take much longer to leak into the contents. This is why alot of Japanese whiskey has been matured for 20, 30 and even 50 years.
Climate also plays its part. In hot dry parts of the world, the whiskey evaporates quicker and makes the remainder much more concentrated in a much shorter time frame. The damp cold climates of Scotland and Ireland makes this process much slower.
Whilst there are older spirits, a 50 year old whiskey seems to set the bench mark for the most expensive whisky title. Most 50 year old whiskey will cost over $2000 a bottle.
Glenfiddich 50 year old single malt whiskey
Glenfiddich is a very popular brand of whiskey. You can still visit the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown and see how their aged whiskey is created. From the creating of the mash, through to the distilling in the unique copper stills, and the casking process.
The distillery was built in 1886 by William Grant and his sons and named Glenfiddich which means “valley of the deer” in Gaelic. Glenfiddich is one of the few distilleries that is still family owned.
The first ever 50 year old aged whiskey was first launched in 1991 from nine casks first laid down in the 1930’s. Glenfiddich only releases fifty bottles of this vintage. This particular selection was drawn from two casks that have spent the last 50 years maturing in warehouse number 8. The bottles are hand blown and finished with a silver neck and badge. They are encased in hand stiched leather case.
The tasting notes from the Glenfiddich Distillery
Colour Pale gold.
Nose A beautifully harmonious, uplifting, vibrant and complex aroma. Delicate rose petal and violets intertwine with green tobacco leaf, oak and faint hints of smoke.
Taste Initially very sweet, with zesty orange marmalade and vanilla toffee, cascading through layer after layer of aromatic herb, floral and soft fruits, silky oak tannin and gentle smoke.
Finish Exceptionally long, with a touch of dry oak and the merest trace of peat.
This would make a great present to anyone, unfortunately the cheapest bottle I could find was selling for $28,000