Seeking to make the world a more colourful place, the brashest move yet in removing age statements on Scotch single malt whisky bottles came recently when The Macallan distillery, one of the best-known in the business, unveiled its 1824 Series of single malts that are labeled by the hue of the drink. A wee dram of gold, anyone?

In ascending order of darkness (and price) the 1824 Series features the Gold, Amber, Sienna, and Ruby releases. While some distillers shy away from the notion that no-age-statement (NAS) single malts allow them to meet demand, The Macallan is more upfront, perhaps feeling flush since it announced last year plans to invest £100 million ($S211 million) in a new distillery and visitor centre.

“This new range allows us greater flexibility with our stock to ensure we can continue to meet the ever-increasing demand for The Macallan and enables the Whisky Maker to work with whisky without being shackled by age,” says The Macallan director Ken Grier.

While not identifying the average age within each release, Grier talks about how the use of wood casks to mature whisky leads to certain clues. “All of our whiskies take 100 per cent of their colour from the wood in which they are matured,” he says. “So, as the colours darken and the complexity of the character develops going up the range, so the pool of casks available to the Whisky Maker gets ever scarcer and more valuable.”

Simon Brooking, North American brand ambassador for Laphroaig, Teacher’s and Ardmore has run across the 1824 Series in taste tests, and feels that all distilleries promoting NAS products face a similar issue in educating consumers. “It’s a fascinating discussion and a challenge,” he says. “We are such a numbers oriented society. How are we to distinguish quality through nouns rather than numbers?”

The Macallan’s move absolutely dispels any notion that NAS single malts are the sad stepchildren of age-statement whisky. The 1824 Series tops out with M, for which The Macallan collaborated with crystal designer Lalique to create only 1,750 decanters, each engraved with an individual number. Recommended retail price for M is US$4,500 (S$5,590).

But that seems positively cheap considering an oversized 6-litre “Imperiale” version of M, one of only four in the world, sold at auction for a jaw-dropping US$628,000 this January at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong with no age statement anywhere in sight.