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Age concerns

With much interest I have read your editorial and Dave’s column in WM 89. In both your writings Chivas Brothers gets (most of) the blame for putting too much emphasis on the stated age on whisky bottles and the supposedly correlated quality of the contents. Of course I do agree with you that young whiskies can be just as good (or even better than) older ones. I have tasted enough to be able to say that, although I do not consider myself an expert (far from it). I simply love the stuff, especially the ones made on Islay, the place I tend to call my “spiritual home” after having visited there many times.

Having said that, I must add that in my view both Dave and you more or less missed the point. When I started to drink whisky and tried to read and understand the labels, I was indeed told by my local shop owner that older whisky was better (and hence more expensive). On top of that, the very fact that the age statement on the label gives the age of the youngest whisky in the bottle also strongly suggests that. After all, distilleries want to promote their product and by saying that the whisky in my just acquired bottle is “at least” so many years of age they are really saying that the quality is at minimum that of the youngest aged whisky in the bottle and better. Every distillery that I know of does this. I must praise Ardbeg distillery here for giving the exact contents of every vintage in terms of a percentage in one of their latest expressions. It also makes a nice graph. And life is a rollercoaster, isn’t it?

Willem Heijns

Name that distillery

Thoroughly enjoyed the article in issue 89 “Glenlivet goes large”. I am probably not the first to point out that it was a great shot of Tamnavulin Distillery masquerading as The Glenlivet! I am sure Whyte and Mackay was pleased with the publicity. Also a great editorial page. I have been advocating for years not to take the experts counsel as gospel what they can nose and taste you might not be able to and the acid test is “did you enjoy it?” Age? “Old whisky is not necessarily better” and “Some whiskies are best drunk young.”

Steve Oliver
(From deepest Speyside)

More age concerns

A few days ago I received issue 89, that prompted this letter as I do feel ‘age in the cask is important’ as it gives a refined smoothness to the whisky (these days there aren’t many poor casks), and I am sure your Monkey Shoulder has some aged whiskies combined with lively young ones to make it’s overall character. My taste buds so agree with your evaluation, as my favourites are also 12 to 15 year old blends.
By the way the issue was a most enjoyable read, Carving Iceballs caught my eye as I recently enjoyed a whisky saur in the newly opened Blythwood Hotel in Glasgow with a large iceball filling the glass.

Robin Dods
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