Scotch whisky prices have been slowly rising over time and in recent years distillers have also introduced new blends and names and labels that do not include a whisky’s age. According to one distiller I spoke to while in Scotland several years ago, this is the result of increased popularity and demand. This resulted from a number of consumers no longer being able to afford their 10, 12, and 18 year single malts.
The minimum legal aging requirement for Scotch whisky is 3 years. However I am not aware of any brand that advertises any 3-year-old scotch whiskies for sale. There are however, many no age statement (NAS) whiskies and many of these will almost certainly contain some 3-year-old whisky mixed in with older blends; but normally 10-12 years old is the minimum age for most consumers to consider purchasing.
Scotch whisky is expensive due to other factors besides demand; many of which don’t affect other alcoholic drinks in the same manner. Long term storage contributes a large percentage of the cost; not only due to the time required to mature but also due to the losses that occur from evaporation. Bottling, packing, distribution and a large percentage of excise tax have a high impact on price as well.
Evaporation, often referred to as the Angels’ Share, is the portion lost from barrels during the maturation process. On average roughly 2% of the whisky is lost per year. However, newly made spirit evaporates at a much higher rate, closer to 3.5-4% over the first few years with a slow reduction down to about 2% in the later years.
Whisky Age Litres before Maturation Litres after Maturation
10 Year Old 200 Litres 160 Litres
12 Year Old 200 Litres 152 Litres
25 Tear Old 200 Litres 100 Litres
Is Scotch whisky worth the price? In my humble opinion many are. I find that I can easily sip on an enjoyable aged single malt and relax or dive deep into my own thoughts, depending on my frame of mind.