All-round whisky god Dave Broom came out fighting in No Age Statement whisky’s defence in a packed-out seminar on the subject at this year's Bar Convent Berlin.
‘It’s probably the biggest issue in the industry. It’s contentious,’ he announced. ‘Whisky lovers tend to forget that whisky is a business. We think that they’re making it as a form of altruism.’
Dropping truth bombs all over the shop, he went on to look at why distilleries are launching more NAS products, and also why bars should be stocking NAS whisky.
- Holes in stocks
‘Everyone is suffering a squeeze on stock,’ explained Broom. ‘Modest growth was predicted by companies, and no one expected countries such as Brazil or Thailand to get on it. Japanese whisky went into a 25-year decline; nothing was being made at the turn of this century, and now everyone’s drinking it.’ Due to the long maturation periods required for a spirit to become whisky, distilleries are essentially easing their own supply issues with NAS.
- Creative freedom
‘There’s plenty of opportunity for innovation and flavour creation in Scotch whisky,’ Broom said. ‘I’m not saying age statements are bad, however. They’re a useful guide to consumers.’
Broom used Monkey Shoulder as an example of this creative freedom. ‘The rationale behind this whisky was that William Grant had realised it was losing ground to bourbons. Monkey Shoulder is Glenfiddich, Balvenie and Kininvie vatted in American oak. These flavour-led whiskies that aren’t dictated by number are going to become increasingly important in your bar.’
- Better wood policy
‘We’ve got a better understanding of wood now, a forensic understanding of what happens chemically, which means you’d better have good oak. As a result of this, you see whisky maturing quicker than it did between the 1960s and 1980s. Twelve years old used to be the magic age, because refill casks were used. Now we’re using first-fill, and better oak. Remember that age is a number, maturity is character.’