Today’s tasting is the Macallan 12 year old variety. Macallan is traditionally known for its rich sherry oaks in which its Speyside distillery produces some excellent Scotch whisky. The distillery has also established a Fine Oak range, which takes another approach altogether which I will not go into here. Macallan has become quite popular lately but has been known to produce fine whisky for a long time. Kingsley Amis referred to it in his book, Every Day Drinking as his “Drink of the Year”.
The Macallan is distilled in Spanish sherry oak casks from Jerez. These casks are filled with sherry and aged 2 years before being shipped to the Macallan distillery for maturing Macallan’s new make.
The product is a very rich amber colour, deep and satisfying to the eye. It is bottled at 43% alcohol by volume.
On the nose, the sherry influence is immediately apparent. Some fruit and orange peel are also present. A bit of smoke and wood even out the experience.
On the palate, there’s sherry again…so much sherry, and even cognac. The wood comes through much stronger on the palate than on the nose. Some smoke too. Fruit and orange peel, possibly some shades of chocolate orange mix in and provide some sweetness. There is a hint of spice somewhere in there.
The finish is long and satisfying. It is a dry finish mostly, with the fruit at the top giving way quickly to the wood. The wood finish reminds me of the smell of a wood fireplace or stove on a cold winter night. This would be a great a great drink to warm spirits on a cool night out on a deck.
A hint of water is all it takes to unlock more sherry notes, adding some sweetness to the nose and palate, but taking some off the finish. The water does a great job enhancing the experience on this whisky, but add too much and you quickly diminish the returns.
Overall, the whisky lives up to the hype. As Kingley Amis states in the aforementioned book, “the only drink you want after having some of it is more of it”. Highly recommended and a basis for comparing many other whiskies of the same kind, it does not come cheap. However, if you find yourself on a trip to the states, especially New Hampshire, I recommend picking up a bottle. It will cost you half of what you will pay in Quebec and Ontario.