Weller Antique is the latest American straight whiskey to take the age statement off its label and, as usual, the producer (in this case, Buffalo Trace) says the product isn't really changing. An age statement is, after all, just a number. What matters is how the whiskey tastes.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my college deans several years after I graduated. He was a crusty sort anyway and we had butted heads more than once. Now he was talking to me more like a peer and bitching about alums who can't stand to see anything on campus change, anything. I think we're like that about whiskeys sometimes.
And who wouldn't be? Even the young people here know how a generation ago there were so many more distilleries. This is, in many ways, a golden age, but the paucity of different producers is a problem. That's why we hate to lose anything: an age statement, some proof points, anything. Buffalo Trace has done more than any other producer to try create as much variety as possible with the resources they have, but it's no substitute.
Which brings me back to the story about the dean. Are age statements really that important? Or do we just hate change?