Ask a proper whiskey connoisseur and they will tell you that as a whiskey age, the taste becomes much more complex and better than the less mature version. That being said, the taste is very much a subjective matter and something that tastes good to you may not necessarily taste good to someone else.
What The Research Says
However, with certainty, what can be said is that an 18 year old whisky will provide more flavour than one that has only aged for just a couple of years. The scientific research that has been conducted shows that as much as seventy percent of the flavour in a wood-stored whiskey comes from the wood. For the liquid to start to absorb the flavours of the wood, it must be in constant contact with it for a minimum of two to three years.
The great thing about aging whiskey in wooden barrels is that the stronger flavours become smoother and more mellow over time. In contrast, in contrast, the flavours that really characterize a whiskey, such as spices, fruits, and grasses, grow to become much stronger over time.
Those true whiskey connoisseurs look for those drinks that have mellowed out and contain sweet or smoky flavours that are infused with the likes of sherry, oak, and honey undertones. This comes from the older, more mature whiskeys that are not quite as sharp but have subtle and long-lasting flavours.
The Point Of Maturity
It is important to remember that different types of whiskeys reach maturity at different stages. Whereas as some of them build up a complex combination of flavours over the years that they mature, others, in contrast, can grow to become much too woody with a bitter aftertaste. The process of getting this balance just right comes down to the master distillers who are in charge of aging the drink to that perfect point.
For anyone who does not regularly drink whiskey, it can be difficult to pick up on what whiskeys are well aged and which ones are not. Most will not be able to notice the difference between a thirty year aged single malt and something that has only been aged for a couple of years that has been picked up from the store.
The optimum way of experiencing the different flavours that various types and brands of whiskey has to offer is by taking part in a tasting session where you get the opportunity to try drinks with a range of different ages. After doing so, you will be able to appreciate the flavors and tell the difference between 12-year-old, 18-year-old, 20-year-old, or even 30-year-old whiskey.
Typically, the older that whiskey is, the more expensive that it is. This is kind of obvious given the fact that a thirty year old whiskey has taken longer and required more man-hours and resources to be produced than what a three-year-old whiskey has.