Just like in other industries, the whisky industry loves its acronyms and one that is commonly found on whisky chat rooms and forums is the acronym NAS. This does not refer to a different brand or type of whisky, it simply stands for “No Age Statement”.
NAS means that the bottle does not have the age of the whisky listed on it. It is a legal requirement that if an age statement is listed on a bottle then the entire contents of the bottle must be a minimum of that age. For example, a bottle of Scotch listed as being 15 years old must only contain Scotch that is 15 years old or older, and a bottle of 30 year old whisky must only contain Scotch that is more than 30 years old.
An NAS Scotch must only have been matured for a minimum for 3 years to comply with Scottish law regarding whisky. It could, however, contain whisky which has been matured for a longer period such as 8 or 12 years, as without having an age statement, the distiller of the whisky can be more flexible in their product as they have no age limitation.
What Kinds Of Whisky Are NAS?
One classic example of a NAS whisky is Johnnie Walker, which is a well known, blending NAS Scotch. Most of their bottles have no age statement and it is only a change of color that helps the buyer to discern the level of the whisky, which may or may not be associated with its age. For example, Johnnie Walker’s line contains Red, Gold, Black, Green and Blue labelled bottles and only some of those have age statements.
Why Are NAS Whiskies Made?
It is difficult for manufacturers of popular Scotches to keep up with the demand for their product, but of course they cannot quickly produce a product which has to have been aged for a certain period. If the distillery bottles a 15 year old Scotch, for example, it will have been in its barrel since around the turn of the millennium and that means that the supply is very limited. If there is a spike in demand this year for that particular whisky, it is impossible to produce more. By eradicating the age statement, the manufacturer enjoys a greater flexibility and is better able to keep up with demand for their products.
Are NAS Whiskies Lower Quality?
Usually, avid whisky collectors look for the age of a bottle before making a purchase as they believe that one of the primary indicators of a whisky’s quality is its age, and the older the better. However recently there have been increasing numbers of NAS whiskies on the market, many of which are among the most popular brands within their manufacturer’s ranges. Simply taking away an age statement does not necessarily mean that the quality is reduced or that the whisky tastes any worse and in fact, without being constrained by an age statement, it is even possible to maintain consistency and quality in an even better way.
What Are The Advantages Of NAS Whisky?
Many producers of whisky today believe that producing NAS whisky gives them more opportunities to be flexible and innovative to create a drink that is even better and more flavorful by blending different malts with a focus on something else besides the product’s age. For example, some of these alternative focuses include:
How Have NAS Whiskies Been Received By Buyers?
Although a decade ago 90% of whisky drinkers believed that age was the most important indicator to look for when determining a high quality whisky, a lot has changed in the last few years. Some NAS whiskies are now among the world’s top selling brands – for example, Laphroaig’s Quarter Cask, and while some collectors still believe age is the key, others are appreciating the flexibility in production methods which has led to a more exciting range of products.