Last week Macallan announced a new series with four expressions, all without age statement, in 4 different price points. Are you having some deja vu? Because I did.
For a moment I thought it must be some reposting of the original 1824 series announcement which incidentally happened exactly 4 years ago in October. But a second and deeper look revealed the truth of a new Travel Retail series which will completely replace the 1824 series and all other TR expression starting January 2018.
But the discussion on this series in one of my whisky FB groups, turned to the 1824 series faster than you could say Jack Robinson. Not too many people here tasted because the 1824 series didn’t reached us and didn’t show up on shelves. Yes, it means we’re still ‘stuck’ with the Fine Oak series, although I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing or a good thing :-D. To make a long story short, we all pretty much agreed that the 1824 series was a forgettable one exception of the Sienna which was quite decent relatively to its price (Ruby excluded from the discussion for it’s the premium offering).
I then looked at my notes and found that I never published them on the blog, so in ‘celebration’ of the new Macallan Quest series, I took out my Sienna archive sample, opened and re-tasted it to see if our memory of its decency was real.
The Macallan Sienna (43%, £74.55/€76,98)
Nose: Dried red fruit, vanilla and sweet maltiness to balance the sweetness, baked nutmeg, white pepper, milk chocolate and after a while, a bit of dried strawberries and cinnamon. Continue reading
How about a Macallan review to close the weekend? Let’s have a look at Macallan Edition No.2, the second release in an annual limited edition in which Macallan partner with somebody to create this edition. In this case of the Macallan Edition No.2, it’s a collaboration between Macallan master blender Bob Dalgarno and the Spanish chefs Joan, Josep and Jordi Roca, co-founders of El Celler de Can Roca, which was twice named best restaurant in the world.
It’s a NAS whisky (no real surprise from Macallan of the last few years), with seven different oak cask types (European and American oak casks) from four different bodegas.
The Macallan Edition No. 2 (48.2%, £81.95/€97.49)
Nose: Lovely sherried nose, dried fruit, gooseberries, blackberries, cooked plums, soaked raisins (don’t get those much lately in new sherried whiskies), cinnamon, milk chocolate, velvety and with some fresh and light side. After a few minutes, getting more chocolate and coffee, berries pastry, malt, honey and buttery feeling. Continue reading
A while ago I reviewed Macallan Rare Cask Black but it was not the first expression in the Rare Cask line up as before the Black there was the blank one 😉 (Or if you prefer, the one without an adjective). The Rare Cask whisky was released in the US late 2014 and it arrived to UK/Europe mid 2015.
In line with all their recent releases, this one is a NAS whisky and bottled at 43% so I assume it was chill filtered (the Rare Cask Black is bottled at 48% and non chill-filtered). So while the Rare Cask Black predecessor is lacking in terms of punch and whisky “purity”, maybe it’s more transparent regarding the content? After all, on the Rare Cask Black we only know there are less than 100 casks that has contributed (or can contribute) to it. So what do we know on the original Rare Cask? This is what The Macallan tells us:
Crafted to showcase complexity and depth, Rare Cask is drawn from the broadest spectrum of casks, 16 different types, ever identified by the Master Whisky Maker. Far less than 1% of those casks maturing at the distillery have been identified as fitting to bestow the Rare Cask name. With rarity at its core, this is a whisky crafted from casks so rare they will never again be used in any Macallan whisky. Combining Spanish and American sherry seasoned oak casks, a high proportion of them first fill…
Allow me to be frank: This is collection of marketing bullshit! Where should I start in tearing all those nonsense statements?
- 16 different types of casks? I’m trying to figure out what does it mean in terms of whisky impact – with so many cask types, I assume that for most cask types in this mix the impact on the whisky is negligible so why do we care? Is it done in for the sake of transparency? Why not just go ahead and fully list the types? Let’s have a small exercise and try listing the possible cask types in this mix: Gorda, Butt, Puncheon, Hogshead, ASB, QC and Octave, both American and European Oak and probably some exotic casks. But again, that’s all besides the point: The more the merrier? Does it really teach us anything important or relevant on the whisky itself?
- “Far less than 1% of the casks in the distillery” – We have no idea what “far less” means here, the exact value could have been 0.99% or 0.5% and not necessary 0.01% as we’d like to imagine. And as Macallan produces 8 million liters of Alcohol a year, there are probably some few hundred thousands of casks in the warehouses so the limited range of casks may in fact not be so limited.
- “casks so rare they will never again be used in any Macallan whisky” – Oh really? Just like most refill casks? And allow me to bet that the first fill barrels will be used another time…
- Besides, what’s so rare in sherry seasons oak casks? Give us whisky only from proper sherry casks, now that will be rare!
OK, time to stop the rant as I’m getting too upset from this marketing mumbo jumbo and let’s check if this whisky is worthy of the “rare” title.
Nose: Ooh a very gentle and lovely Sherried nose, I usually don’t mention appearances but it got some rocking legs in the glass. Dried fruit, soaked raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg, hints of sour berries, blood oranges and after a few minutes also cereals and vanilla (must be some sherried American oak casks in those 16 types, right?) and 50% cacao chocolate. A very elegant nose. Continue reading
Photo Credit: Whisky Magazine Hong Kong and Macau
01-June-2016 Update: The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old was launched late last week in Taiwan, so it’s NOT a USA exclus ive.
I was told that it’s now coming to Hong Kong, then US/North America and eventually it will be available in Europe as well! So European Macallan fans should rejoice as the age statement is coming your way too.
There are fundamental moments when a whole industry takes a turn, and if you look at the whisky industry, you can surly peg the Macallan 1824 series release as the first large (large? huge!) harbinger of the NAS trend that has been sweeping through the whisky industry in the last few years. I remember being in shock back then in September 2012 when Macallan announced the 1824 series. Seriously? Ditching the age statement core line up and instead bring a new line up that use colors to represent taste (and to some degree, age too)?
Well, it wasn’t a full line up replacement when the 1824 series was unleashed onto the world as some markets still retained the Fine Oak and Sherry Oak line ups. But even so, the flood gates were open since then and we’ve seen many NAS releases, from Macallan (the 1824 collection in Travel Retail market) and other major players in the industry such as other members in the Edrington group (Highland Park warriors series anyone?), Diageo, Grant’s and others. Some NAS releases were merely additions to existing line ups yet far too many were replacing existing age statement whiskies entirely or in different markets.
But guess what? After over 3 years, Macallan are ready to release a new whisky with an age statement on it!
Shocking, isn’t it? So the obvious questions are: Continue reading
One more young whisky from G&M in the “The Wood Makes the Whisky” campaign, but this time it’s a whisky from a powerhouse distillery that all but ditched the age statements from their main OB expressions: Macallan.
Luckily, we have independent bottlers to enjoy age labeled Macallans but even those are pretty rare and hard to find, that is, unless you’re Gordon & Macphail. I bet there’s some prior contract that supplies G&M with fresh casks from Macallan and so we can enjoy the Speymat range, from the expensive old to the young and affordable vintages.
As befitting the tone of the last few reviews, It’s a younger in that range that we check today, the Macallan Speymalt 2006 that was bottled in 2015 (17/11/2015 to be precise), making it approximately 9 year old. It was aged in various sherry casks, both 1st fill and refill casks which should give it a nice sherried touch, which is what Macallan built their brand upon.
Macallan Speymalt 2006 (43%, £32.95/€43.75)
Nose: At first sniff it feels even younger than 8 yo Glenrothes from the last review. There is a big malt and cereals mix and some beeswax. The sherry casks are felt at first with light dried fruits coupled with sweet and fresh red berries but then the impact slowly turns into a fruitier impact with some apricots and lemon peels along with the red and dried fruits, Continue reading
lately I’ve been beating the TR market and the late trends it’s going through. But not all new TR exclusive whiskies are bad. Macallan has been doing some good TR exclusive releases for a while but even those come with issues of their own.
For example, the Macallan Rare Cask Black lacks transparency big time. The bottle itself is opaque and you can’t gauge how much whisky left in the bottle and also lacks transparency for the liquid inside – we don’t know much about the whisky. Yes, it’s somewhat peated (either the result of peated malt or usage of casks that held sherry and peated whisky in the past), and there are less than 100 such casks in Macallan warehouses. But how many of those were used here? what about casks information?
I don’t think that additional transparency will hurt sales. I understand Macallan’s decision to go the taste-is-the-only-thing-that-matter route they chose in the last few years but I don’t have to like it as I like my whisky to be less mysterious, especially when they ask consumers to pay $450 for said bottle. Does it justify that price tag?
Macallan Rare Cask Black (48%, $450 RRP)
Nose: Macallan? Are you sure? It smells like sherried Highland park to me. Peat smoke, lots of sherry goodness, There were multiple casks involved in creating this whisky but I bet there were a lots of Spanish wood casks in the mix. Prunes, dried fruit, gentle nutmeg and to lesser extent cinnamon, quite a fresh and polished nose. With time it gets sweeter and further sherried but still keeping the fresh theme and not going into cloying territory, spicy with a nice dose of white pepper, a bit of dust, cloves, gentle smoke going through all the time. Continue reading
Again too busy with work so today, again we’ll have to be content with a quick whisky review. This time: Macallan Select Oak from the 1824 series. Upon release it was destined at the Travel Retail market, exclusively at first although now you can find it in many online stores.
The Select Oak is a combination of first-fill European oak casks seasoned with oloroso sherry, and American oak casks seasoned with oloroso sherry or bourbon.
Macallan Select Oak (40%, £55.99/€54.95)
Nose: Sweet sultanas, whiffs of young spirit, lots of malt, vanilla, toast, weak nutmeg cinnamon, sourness of unripe berries. Continue reading