The best whiskey is a matter of taste, not age
Let's use a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle as an example for this lesson in buying bourbon. Pappy goes for up to $3,000 a bottle. Say you have the option to buy a 23-year or a 15-year bottle. While you might think the older one would be the more coveted one, that's not what Thomas would select. He says the 23-year is too oaky for his tastes, and prefers the 15-year, which has a higher proof. It doesn't mean that all 15-year whiskeys are better than all 23-years, but it is for him within that particular brand.
Blended whiskeys like Johnnie Walker and Chivas Regal rank as some of the most popular Scotch in the world. Both brands use whiskeys of different ages to create a specific flavor profile. And in these blends, younger whisky is not a bad thing. "By including youthful whiskeys in a vatting [Editor's Note: As in, a blend of whiskeys of different ages and casks], the blender is ensuring the distillery’s character is represented -- those fruity, lively notes you get in a 12-year-old Glenfiddich, for example," says Paskin. "Older whiskey is used to add an even greater depth of flavor. It's all about balance."
So next time you head to the liquor store, there's no need to drop extra dough on a bottle just because it has an impressive-sounding age statement on the label. Age ain't nothing but a number, after all.
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