Oliver Klimek ran a blind tasting between NAS whisky and age-statement whisky of similar lineage. The results were, essentially, mathematically inconsequential:
Looking at the individual bottles, the results look as if age statement whisky cashed in a convincing victory: 6 age statement bottles received more votes than their NAS sparring partners, as opposed to only 3 for NAS. There was one draw.
But adding up the votes for all age statement and all NAS whiskies separately, the resulting balance is only 2 in favour of age statement whisky. This number is very small compared to the total number of votes of 295 (59 x 5). Needless to say that this is well within the margin of error for such a relatively small group.
I agree with the rest of Oliver’s conclusion. This won’t settle the argument, but it’s an important data point. It’s worth noting that distilleries are getting better with their NAS whisky, as I mentioned on the podcast before.