You may have noticed. There’s a lot of “Old”-ness going around in the whiskey world, particularly in America. Our current Rare Spirits Auction
alone includes nine different whiskies that sport the word “Old,” and that’s hardly a definitive sampling. For all our cultural obsession with youth, the world of American whiskey long ago rejected ageism in their naming conventions and instead grabbed old age close in a tweedy, two-armed, grandpa-scented bear hug. Which has led us to wonder: what is it about being old that distillers of (forgive us) old, thought their consumers would find so necessarily appealing?
You don’t need a degree in fermentation science to know the most obvious answer is that distillers back in the day wanted to make sure consumers knew their product was aged - there wasn’t much regulation in early 19th century American spirits production, and barrel time separated the moonshine from the whiskey. And yet…can the answer really be that scientific? Who among us hasn’t let the gentle wash of tradition soften the burn on a dram of whiskey? Is the word “Old” on the bottle for our brains or our hearts?