What is No Age Statement Whisky (And Should You Buy it)?

Ever wondered why you can’t always find the age of your latest whisky purchase printed on the bottle?

What you’ve likely stumbled upon is a no age statement release, and though they’ve been common in the industry for a while, you won’t be alone in wanting to know more about what you’ve just bought!

We take a deep dive into no age statement whiskies, exploring what they are, why we have them and whether they’re actually any good (spoiler alert, they are!).

What does NAS mean?

‘NAS’ is an abbreviation of ‘no-age statement’. This basically means that the distillery hasn’t disclosed the length of maturation.

So, while you might be used to seeing a Bunnahabhain 12 (for example), with the 12 denoting how many years the whisky has been sitting in the cask, NAS whiskies tend to have names related to flavour, heritage or process – such as the Bunnahabhain Toiteach (which means smokey in Scots Gaelic).

All we can ever confidently say is that the youngest liquid in an NAS whisky is three years old, as this is the minimum age required in order to be legally called ‘whisky’.

Why do distillers release NAS whiskies?

Although the concept of NAS whiskies dates back to the prohibition era in the US, the practice has been thrown under the spotlight over the last decade as enthusiasts strive for more transparency – although the reason for their existence is a simple one.

As the demand for older and rarer whisky increased, distilleries had to come up with a way to keep up the supply.

After all, when the stock of your favourite 18 year old runs dry, it’s gone.

This is where NAS whiskies come in, as it enables distillers to fill a gap in the market while existing spirit matures. It also gives them a bit more freedom to experiment with different finishes and flavour profiles, without the constraints that a stated age imposes.

This is because any reference to age that appears on a bottle of whisky can only denote that of the youngest drop. In other words, if you have a predominantly 15 year old malt, but top it up with a punchier 5 year old, then that legally becomes a 5 year old bottle of whisky.

Unfortunately, this younger age statement can make that particular release less appealing to buyers and might not be a fair reflection of the quality of the drink. This is especially pertinent to NAS whiskies, as they are typically a combination of differently aged spirits.

What’s the controversy with NAS whisky?

The main arguments against NAS whisky typically relate to transparency and the belief that older bottles are better.

As NAS releases don’t list an age, it’s understandable that buyers may lack confidence in their purchase. This is fair, but it also ties into a common misconception – that age is always a reflection of quality.

There’s a myth in whisky that older bottles are better and anything younger than 10 years old isn’t worth your time; this definitely isn’t the case. Not all well-aged whiskies may be to your taste, just like not all young whiskies won’t be.

So don’t be put off by the thought that an NAS whisky might contain young spirit; chances are, it also contains some older spirit too – and it definitely doesn’t make for an inferior product!

Is NAS whisky good?

NAS whiskies are certainly worth tasting and there are plenty of fantastic bottles on the market for beginners and experienced drammers alike.

In fact, some of the most popular bottles of the last few years have been devoid of age statements.

Take, for instance, the A’bunadh releases from Aberlour. These heavily sherried, cask strength bottlings, have become a real cult favourite – and while we don’t exactly know the age of the whisky, it’s said to be a mixture of 5 to 25 year old spirit!

Similarly popular NAS whiskies include the Ardbeg Uigeadail, Glenfarclas 105 and anything by Compass Box. To be honest, there are loads of superb bottles out there and we couldn’t possibly list them all!

Conclusion: should you buy NAS whisky?


Age is just a number and nowhere is this better illustrated than with whisky. Sure, we all have our favourite 12, 15, or 18 year old bottles, but NAS whisky presents a fantastic opportunity to try something different and often at a reasonable price!

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