Age statements and youthful maturity are a funny mix. I thought about writing an epic-length essay on age statements while looking at the industry as a whole, but realised that not only has that been covered by many great whisky writers already, but I feel as though the point may be lost.
From tomorrow, we’re releasing what I believe is the youngest Society bottle ever produced. There’s often hullabaloo and excitement when distilleries or the Society releases very old casks, and rightly so, as it’s fascinating even just holding a bottle of something that was distilled sometimes decades before you were born (and I’m not that young) and tastes truly magnificent. But I really do get equally excited by really low age statements and some of my personal favourite Society casks in the past few years have been ones with incredibly young age statements (some certain Kilchoman, Chita, and Glenmorangie casks we’ve had ring to mind, among others).
At tastings and events I’m often asked about the whole age statement vs no-age-statement movement in whisky. My answer is invariably always the same: I don’t mind if a whisky is 2 or 20 or 50 years of age, I just like to know! There are times in whisky history where age on the bottle wasn’t a marketed thing, nor was it overly important, so long as it tastes good. Even today, there’s a lot of great whiskies without age statements declared on them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any good! For peat fans it’s hard to go past an Ardbeg Uigeadail for instance, and you’re not going to write it off just because it doesn’t declare age. However, I would very much appreciate if it did declare the age! It’s not about how old it is, it’s about transparency for me. But even more importantly is the maturity.
I’ve had some absolutely sublime 3 year old casks, and some truly over-oaked hot mess 50 year old whisky. Maturity is key here and finding that ‘sweet spot’ of where a whisky sits best after time in the cask. Tomorrow sees the release of B3.3, a 2 year old American whiskey from a micro distillery in Little Rock, Arkansas from a fresh charred oak barrel. After just two years the maturity and cask reaction to the spirit here is what wins. Our Cellarmaster Andrew remarked on his panel notes that the nose is exactly like walking through a Kentucky whisky warehouse. I then get that immediate bourbon sweetness but less syrup than the B3.2 before it. Raspberry pop tarts, sawmill dust, potpourri, pancakes, like licking the oak and char with an American breakfast.
I’ll say it now: it’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes, but it is a fascinating insight into how for just two, yes TWO years old, it already has a fascinating complexity and depth of character for an incredibly youthful spirit. A true collectors item as much as it is a great drinker! Have a read of our latest Outturn with local tasting panel notes on B3.3 here.
B3.3 goes on sale midday Friday 1st July exclusively for members at $185. Limit one bottle per member and as usual, stocks are extremely limited so don’t delay.
Matt Bailey, National Ambassador