Ah whisky, it truly is the water of life. It is enjoyed far and wide by the masses and it comes in different forms. But this diversity also presents with it a multitude of preferences and sometimes, these preferences can evolve into prejudices.
While some of these prejudices may have some basis in fact, others are simple myths which need to be debunked.
So, why don't we proceed!
Debate #1: Older is better
This would be one of the oldest and most enduring debates of them all and while it may have some basis in fact, it does a disservice to some of the stellar young whiskies out there which are loved by many.
It must be said that while older whiskies have had the benefit of time to mellow out and present a rather dignified look at a distillery's produce as well as capabilities, one should not necessarily take age into account when determining the quality of a whisky.
The proliferation of Non Age Statement (NAS) whiskies has given life to a rather robust debate as to whether older is better, but when one considers that expressions such as the Laphroaig PX Cask, Ardbeg Uigeadail and Aberlour A'Bunadh are celebrated for their quality rather than their age, this does provide a robust defence for younger whiskies.
While not all younger whiskies are better, the same argument can be levied against older whiskies as a longer maturation period may not necessarily result in a better whisky.
The simplest way to keep this in mind would be to remember the following phrase:
"Just because it's old, doesn't mean it's good. And just because it's young, doesn't mean it's bad."
Debate #2: Single malts are better than blends
With the proliferation of single malts these days, consumers have a wide variety of choices and are therefore inundated with a variety of purchasing decisions. This has inevitably resulted in the relegation of the humble blended whisky to the periphery as its more illustrious single malt counterparts take centrestage.
While there is the argument that blends are meant for the masses and are seen as a cheap entry point to the world of whisky, it must be acknowledged that there are blends out there which are able to mix it with the best.
There are those who will espouse the virtues and wonders of a well-aged blended whisky from a bygone era and this view definitely holds some water as there are certain blended whiskies from the 1960s to the 1980s which have been known for their phenomenal aromas and tastes.
While they may not be as exalted as their single malt counterparts, they still represent good value and can provide consumers with an affordable entry point into the world of whisky while also providing them with a glimpse of what blended whiskies were like from some decades before.
We are of the opinion that one should strive to try as many different types of whisky as possible and this would be the best way to dispell any prejudices or bias that one may have against a particular category or style.
Debate #3: Stronger is better
Now this is a contentious point as there are those who advocate for both sides of the argument rather robustly. While some whiskies are certainly better at cask strength (case in point: the Laphroaig 10 Years Old Cask Strength batches vs the standard 10 Years Old expression), others benefit from a lower alcohol strength as it allows for more of the complexities to emerge from the background.
For every cask strength expression, there is a standard expression which provides a multitude of complexities at a lower abv. One of the best examples of this would be the Glenfiddich 15 Years Old Solera Reserve, which showcases a vast amount of complexities and richness for a whisky which has been bottled at 40% abv.
Who is right?
There will always be those who argue in favour of one side of the debate over the other, but at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference and what one is looking for.
Our advice? Try as many expressions as possible. You just may find a particular distillery, brand or style that you like!
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