What does the whisky age mean?
Any age statement on a bottle of Scotch whisky, expressed in numerical form, must reflect the age of the youngest whisky used to produce that product. A whisky with an age statement is known as guaranteed-age whisky.
Whiskies do not mature in the bottle, like a wine would, only in the cask, so the ‘age’ of a whisky is only the time between distillation and bottling. This reflects how much the cask has interacted with the whisky, changing its chemical make-up and taste. Whiskies that have been bottled for many years may have a rarity value but are not ‘older’ and not necessarily ‘better’ than a more recent whisky that matured in wood for a similar time.
Brand Owners often point out the importance of maturing whisky in good quality casks. It is known that different cask types, be it sherry or bourbon etc, have a significant impact on the way the whisky develops. And it is equally true that a first-fill bourbon cask will mature whisky faster then a cask that has been used previously.
Age statements on the whisky bottles remain one of the key factors that influence a buyers decision.