MARKET ANALYSIS

The New Age of NAS

26. February 2016 | 4K Views
Please note that this article is based on the old Whiskystats database.
Some numbers and figures may not match what you find in the Whiskystats 2.0 database.

Many words have been said and many lines have been written about No-age-statement whisky. In this article, we don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of whiskies without an age-statement. In this article, we have a look at how the prices of these whiskies evolved on the secondary market. 

First, we need to get us on the same page. As the name says, No-age-statement (or simply NAS) whiskies are bottlings without any indication of how long the spirit matured in one or multiple wooden casks. As we mostly talk about scotch single malts, this maturation is bound by law to be at least three years. Anything beyond that is up to the producer. If there is an age printed on the label, and if multiple casks are mixed together, this age-statement specifies the youngest spirit contained in the end product. Therefore, in most cases the only thing the consumer knows about NAS single malts is the distillery it was made at.
 
In the following, we will have a look at some of the major NAS bottlings and series which are regularly available on the secondary market. There are, of course, many more which can be found in our whisky database.
 
Ardbeg, the Pioneer
 
Many years before the NAS-issue was an “issue” at all and caught the attention of a wide audience, Ardbeg started to release bottlings without any age indications on a regular basis. According to our monthly-summaries, Ardbeg is one of the most (if not the most) traded distillery on the secondary market. Many of these heavily traded whiskies are NAS-bottlings. For the purpose of our analysis, we restrict our attention to the following series. If there are multiple expressions (different bottle sizes, different editions), we only consider the (most traded) standard bottlings.
 

  • Auriverdes: Ardbeg Auriverdes (Feis Ile 2014)
  • Alligator: Ardbeg Alligator (Committee Reserve)
  • Uigeadail: Ardbeg Uigeadail (Standard Release)
  • Corryvreckan: Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Committee Reserve) and Ardbeg Corryvreckan (Standard Release)
  • Supernova: Ardbeg Supernova (Standard Release), Ardbeg Supernova Advance (Committee Reserve) and Ardbeg Supernova Stellar Release 2009

The most expensive bottle of these is the Supernova Advance (Committee Reserve), which sold in January 2016 for around 407 Euros. In total, we observed 2697 trades for the eight bottlings above. This equals an average of more than 337 price observations per bottle! The most traded Ardbeg NAS-whiskies are the Alligator and the Supernova Stellar Release 2009. In classic whiskystats fashion, we summarize these prices by computing an index that consists only of these bottles. In addition, we add the normal Ardbeg-Index for comparison.
The Ardbeg and the Ardbeg-NAS indices
The first thing we notice is that the NAS-bottlings lost almost 30% in value in the years of 2009 and 2010. In 2009, also the Ardbeg-Index lost ground, but only 8%. Now, in February 2016, Ardbeg-NAS is 100 points below the Ardbeg-index. Since January 2014, the eight bottlings listed above gained around 11% in value. Over the same time period, the prices of the 100 overall most traded Ardbeg bottlings went up by 35%! Please notice that our Ardbeg-Index also includes NAS-bottlings.
 
Aberlour A’bunadh, the Originals
 
We now move our attention to AberlourĀ“s A’bunadh range. This series can be seen as the grandfather of modern-day NAS-whiskies. Identified by their batch number, the first Aberlour A’bunadh hit shelfes back in 1997. Since this inaugural release, many more followed. In our whisky database, we find 48 different batches. (Note that you can find these bottles by typing in “a bunadh” into the live search). Without surprise, the cheapest releases are the most recent ones from 2014 and 2015. Among others, these are the A Bunadh Batch no.48, A Bunadh Batch no.46, A Bunadh Batch no.49 and A Bunadh Batch no.52 which all sell for less than 70 Euros. Consequently, the most expensive A’bunadh releases are the older ones. With a single trade for more than 620 Euros from May 2015, the A’bunadh Batch no.21 is the most expensive release in our database. For these 48 bottlings, we have 695 price observations.
The Aberlour and the Aberlour A'bunadh indices
We again computed the corresponding indices. Obviously, the A’bunadh range is a central part of the overall Aberlour-Index. The general movements of these indices are quiet similar. Interestingly, since the beginning of 2014 the bottles of the A’bunadh range gained 47% in value and thereby top the overall Aberlour-Index. From January to September 2015, the value of the 48 A’bunadh bottlings even went up by 80%!.
 
Balvenie TUN 1401 & 1509, the Pricy Ones
 
The TUN 1401 is a limited edition NAS series from Balvenie. There are nine different batches which were released between 2010 and early 2014. Due to the big success a new marriage tun was introduced which is four times bigger than the old one. Pretty obviously, the number of that new tun is 1509. From this new 1509 tun, two batches were released until now. So in total there are eleven different Balvenie TUN batches, all of which are covered by our database. To make things more confusing, there is also a TUN 1858. To our knowledge, the two batches of that tun were intended for the Asian market (specifically Taiwan) only. For the following analysis however, we restrict our attention to TUN 1401 and 1509. And yes, we of course calculated the indices.
The Balvenie and the TUN 1401 and TUN 1509 indices
Since the Balvenie TUN 1401 Batch no.1 was released, the overall value of the nine 1401 batches climbed by 120%. The Batch no.1 release is also the most expensive one. Since February 2013, prices for this initial bottling only seldom fall below 2000 Euros. The latest observation comes from November 2015 where it was sold for 3735 Euros. By the way, this equals an 800% increase in value! The high prices we observe are partly caused by the already hefty primary market prices which were already in the couple of hundreds. On the other side, there are the new 1509 releases. The two batches lost almost 35% in value since they first appeared on the secondary market.
 
Glendronach Cask Strength, the Sherry Bombs
 
In 2012, the Glendronach Cask Strength Batch no.1 was released. Often marketed as “Sherry Bombs”, several batches followed. In our database, we find Batch no.2, Batch no.3 and Batch no.4. Prices for all of these bottles are somewhere around 100 Euros. Since there are only four different bottles, we don’t calculate any indices this time but simply display the (monthly averaged) prices.
The Glendronach Cask Strength Batches
And what we see is that we can’t see much. Prices for the first batch bounce back and forth between 100 and 170 Euros. By February 2016, the most expensive Glendronach Cask Strength is Batch no.2. The corresponding prices are just below 200 Euros.
 
The Final Showdown
 
There are, of course, many many many (many) more NAS-whiskies which we could pick out. But we could also summarize things with some indices, and everybody who wants to analyze all of the NAS-bottlings can do it anyway by becoming a Whiskystats-Member. For the final secondary market comparison between NAS and old school age labeled whisky we will compute two indices. The first one will consist of the 100 most traded whiskies without any age or distilling year statement. The other one will consist of the 100 most traded bottles which are not in the first index.
The Glendronach Cask Strength Batches
The result is pretty clear. The non-NAS-bottlings (orange) gained 111% in value over the last four years. The prices of the NAS-whiskies climbed by 90% since the beginning of 2012. Even more impressive is that the average (latest) price of the 100 non-NAS bottles is 500 Euros. For the 100 NAS bottles, this average price is only 200 Euros. So it seems like NAS is not as popular as traditionally labeled whisky. But, as we have seen, there are quiet outstanding exceptions.