Carrying on from recent articles, here is another of my past articles from the Northern Scot…….
If you think you know what The Macallan whisky tastes like you may have to think again. Before my recent visit I had an image in my mind of the flavours and aromas I was expecting, but I was so wrong. “It’s a sherry bomb,” I thought, and “I know what sherry cask whisky tastes like”. Well, I love being surprised by whisky and this was one of my biggest thus far on my journey of single malt appreciation.
The tour around the site was very interesting, a mixture of the old with the new being played out on what felt like a huge construction site. Yes, the site is not looking at its best right now, however the scale of the expansion in operation is impressive, increasing the production capacity by around 50%. I for one cannot wait to see the new distillery when it is finished; it looks like it will be similar in scale to Roseisle but somewhat more pleasing on the eye.
What about the whisky then? Along with a number of other companies it seems that The Macallan are moving from traditional aged single malts to something different; to what is known as flavour led expressions without an age statement. There has been much debate amongst whisky writers and bloggers over this, with a lot of negative words being written.
The 1824 Series is The Macallan entrant in this market and I had the opportunity to taste the Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby. They are however not adverse to new products and controversy, having launched their Fine Oak series in 2004. This was also a move “away from tradition”, with the extensive use of American bourbon casks in this product, and again I got to appreciate part of this range; this time the 12 and 15 year olds. Just in case that wasn’t enough we finished off with a “traditional” The Macallan 18 Years Old.
Both of the ranges surprised me and pleased me. The 1824 Series is matured solely in sherry casks, however they condition both European and American oak casks with sherry for these expressions. This brings a delightful sweet, fruity and vanilla touch to some of the range along with the “traditional” sherry cask influence of dried fruit, spice etc. Each expression is named after the colour of the liquid, with the colour being derived solely from the casks used. The Amber was top of my list with fresh fruit and vanilla on the nose and palette. The Sienna was a close second having more of a sensation than flavour; the tastes exploded on the tongue and coated the mouth in a rather different way.
But it was the two Fine Oak whiskies that left the most favourable impression on me. My guide whilst nosing and tasting described the Fine Oak 15 Years Old as a real fusion of bourbon and sherry casks; I would say it was the perfect fusion. It had just enough sherry influence for my liking with more flavours seeming to come from the bourbon casks. The nose was floral and sweet, yet spicy with fruit; I loved the peach notes especially. Vanilla and sweetness with a hint of chocolate made the taste exceptional.
The pride of the people in their site and their whiskies made my morning at The Macallan distillery very memorable, but the whiskies also left their mark. That part of me that was still cynical about flavour led non-aged expressions was reduced a little bit more and I left happy, as well as surprised.
Recommendation of the Month
I would love to recommend the Fine Oak 15 Years Old, but at £150 it is quite expensive, with the 12 Years Old coming in a bit less at around £75 (both available at The Macallan Distillery). In terms of value for money my recommendation of the month is Amber, one of The 1824 Series. Available at various whisky shops at around £45 it is a flavoursome and very interesting single malt at an affordable price.