NAS is causing quite the disturbance in the force. By NAS, I mean those bottled spirits that have No Age Statements. Those good folks who produce all those spirits have, over the centuries, convinced us consumers that older is better and, of course, more expensive. Well, that whole line of thinking has recently been totally upturned as those age statements have begun to disappear. Cases in point are these two scotches from Speyburn. Their Arranta, which has no age statement, sells for $40.00 while their 10 year old Highland scotch sells for a mere $24.00; what’s up with that?

Diageo’s Nick Morgan rather succinctly stated in a recent interview: “It’s much easier to give yourself the flexibility of producing non-age-statement whisky,’ he explains. ‘It gives our people much greater creativity when producing a blended single malt – 99% of single malts are “blends,” and that is how the people who put them together think of it. And people might not like this, but it is a fact – age-statement whiskies are, largely, rarities. Almost 80% of Scotch whisky sold does not have an age statement.”

Well, I for one like my age statements. They have been a fairly reliable guide to quality and price. Now, we are only left to believe that a more expensive scotch will be a better scotch, and I have found through a whole lot of experience that that ain’t necessarily so!


So, let’s give these two scotches the old taste test and see what’s what. Let’s start with that 10 year old, $24.00 Highland single malt. I will have to admit that for a 10 year old scotch, it is a very pale honey color, and I really expected a deeper color from a scotch that had barrel aged that amount of time. The nose is fresh, crisp and citrusy, with the barest aromas of smoke or oak. The palate is light and airy and not overly complicated with a slight touch of smoke and oak flavors, accompanied by spearmint and citrus sweetness. The finish features more smoke and oak than the palate or the nose, and I finally pick up on the barley. It is full flavored, a bit spicy, and lasts a fairly long time. This is not a deeply layered or complicated scotch and is actually one of the lightest scotches I have tasted, but it is smooth and flavorful, and at just $24.00, it’s a real bargain. (Might just be the deal of the year.) It is light enough to sip slowly throughout a long summer afternoon without weighing you down, just add an ice cube and enjoy. 


The Speyburn Arranta (Arranta meaning bold, daring and intrepid in Gaelic), with no age statement is noticeably darker in color than the 10 year old highland scotch. My best guess is that is because it just might be older than 10 years. My second clue is, of course, the price. It is almost double the price of the 10 year old scotch. The nose is actually quite delicate with hints of malt, smoke and a touch of oak and a bit of vanilla. The palate is also delicate with the oak and smoke coming in upfront, followed by a bit of honey and vanilla. The finish ratchets things up a bit with the smoke and oak roaring to the forefront, followed by a spicy heat with some citrus. There’s a bit more flavor here than the 10 year old, and there is also more depth and intensity to the flavors. Unlike the previous summer sipper, this scotch would be a good pre-dinner drink or even an accompaniment to say a cedar plank salmon dinner.

Speyburn 10 year old single malt scotch just might be the deal of the year as you can get for around $24.00 per 750ML bottle and it is 43% ABV or 86 proof. The Speyburn Arranta can be found for around $34.99 to $40.00 per 750ML bottle and is 46% ABV or 92 proof.


By George Brozowski