Whisky 101: What Does NAS Mean?

Have you ever wondered why there was an age statement (e.g., 18 years old) on the labels of whisky bottles, or have you believed that the age on the bottles determines its quality for all the time that you’ve been part of the whisky realm? Though it has caused some controversy among whisky enthusiasts, the age statements aren’t the primary factor determining a spirit’s quality or taste. For whiskies, unlike aged wines and cheese, older doesn’t necessarily mean better.

Age statements have been a part of the whisky culture for many years, and perhaps that’s why many whisky fanatics are still stuck on the age statement being a prominent part of a dram’s quality. Age statements, however, provide a quick and simple way for you to rough measure a whisky’s worth and its quality; in some cases, older whiskies taste better while younger whiskies that have matured faster than their elders have a stronger, higher quality. The truth about age statements is that they only tell you the age of the youngest spirit used in the whisky blend for both single malts and pure malts.  

In modern times, whisky companies are hopping on the NAS or ‘no age statement’ bandwagon because it’s time for a much-needed change in the whisky industry (and a bigger whisky market for the newfound whisky fans around the world!). The main reason why whisky distilleries around the world are creating NAS whisky bottles is simply because of a higher demand. Since it takes a while to develop a fine whisky, time is an essential factor for whisky making; by law, whisky companies need to mature spirits for at least three years before bottling and releasing them to the public.

Because the demand for whisky is much higher than in the past, master whisky blenders are getting more creative with providing more spirits for their customers, but still maintaining the quality. It’s common for whisky companies to mix younger whiskies with older ones to create a no-age statement dram and preserve enough whisky liquid for more bottle releases. Not only does the no-age statement movement allow master blenders to create one-of-a-kind whiskies to release to the market, but it also provides customers with a brand new way to view these luxury liquors and discover that even NAS-labeled whiskies are worth the investment. You can taste completely unique blends that whisky experts have created with NAS whiskies, and this movement has allowed blenders to have more flexibility in their creations.

So what do you think about NAS whiskies? Are you willing to try a bottle and see if this revolutionary change in the whisky world is something you’d like to support, too? Dekanta offers a wide range of no-age statement Japanese whiskies, so you can find them here as well and add one to your collection to experiment with.