As long as the whiskey you’re drinking isn’t a white whiskey (a.k.a “white dog” or “moonshine”), it’ll have been “aged” to some extent. The golden, caramel hues you see in your favorite bottles come from the casks the whiskey is aged in, after all, not the distillation process. But most of the whiskey we buy off the rack is aged for two to four years at the most; today we’re talking about the older stuff.
The thing with whiskey aged beyond that four-year mark is that it has to be dialed in. That means better barrel selection, prime resting environments, and high level of skill from the master distillers. It’s both an art and a science.
Flavor-wise, picking a great long-aged whiskey is tons of fun… with one major caveat. Price. As whiskey spends more time resting in unique barrels, it begins to cost serious money. Space in rickhouses isn’t free; neither are premium barrels. As the years tick past, the expenses go up and those costs get passed on the consumer. Some bottles can end up costing thousands if not tens-of-thousands of dollars after spending decades in the cask.
That’s a price barrier few us can overcome, obviously, but not all aged whiskeys are for the 1%. There are higher-aged whiskeys on the market that manage to hit a little more accessible price point. We’re talking about expertly aged bottles of whiskey that fall in the $100 to $250 range. Sure, that’s still hard on the old bank account, but if you’re buying a special gift or really want to invest in a collection, these are good bottles to start with.
Whatever your reason for dropping cash on whiskey at this level, you always know you’ll be getting something special.