How do I tell the age of whisky

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There are five types of Scotch whisky: single malt, blended, deluxe blended, single grain and vatted. Telling the age of single malt and deluxe blends is easy. It's always stated on the label. Telling the exact age of the other types of whisky is not always possible, although you can get an indication of this from some knowledge of the laws and practices that govern the distillation and sale of whisky.

Things You'll Need

  • Selection of bottles of whisky

How to Tell the Age of Whisky

  • Go to your local supermarket, wine shop or specialist whisky shop. Non-specialist whisky sellers such as supermarkets usually stock the three most popular types of whisky: single malt, deluxe blends and standard blends.

  • Study the labels of the single-malt whiskies. These will state that they are single malt, name the distillery that produced them and give the age of the whisky in the bottle. The most commonly available will be 8, 10, 12 or 15 years old. More mature whiskies are produced, some 20 or 25 years old and some even older. The age will always be given on the label.

  • Study the bottles of deluxe blends. These include brands such as Chivas Regal, Dimple, The Famous Grouse Malt Whisky and Johnnie Walker Black Label. Deluxe blends, too, always state the age of the whisky on their labels. The age given will always be the age of the youngest whisky within the blend.

  • Study the standard and very popular whisky blends, such as Bell's and Whyte & Mackay, and you will see that they never state the age of the whisky in their bottles. By law, however, Scotch whisky cannot be called whisky until at least three years after it has been distilled. According to ScotchWhisky.net, most blended whiskies will include whiskies that are at least five years old.

    Standard blended whiskies are a mixture of grain and single-malt whiskies and may contain as many as 50 whiskies within one blend.

Tips & Warnings

  • While many whisky connoisseurs would argue that older whisky and single-malt whisky are better, others would say that this is a matter of taste.
  • If you like a particular single-malt whisky that is 10 years old, you might or might not like the same make of whisky that is 15 years old. The taste of the more mature whisky can be markedly different.

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References

  • Photo Credit Cognac or Whisky glass image by Pavel Bernshtam from Fotolia.com Distillery still image by zimous from Fotolia.com whisky barrels image by David Woods from Fotolia.com whisky image by Andrii Oleksiienko from Fotolia.com whisky barrels at distillery in scotland uk image by green308 from Fotolia.com
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