Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Malt Mission 2008 #308

Macallan 12yo (two of them)
Speyside Single Malt Whisky
40% abv
$55 (USD)

When I was in Speyside this past April I could see the hillside above Craigallachie passively accepting the newly constructed Macallan warehouses in all their bright orangey glory. Sure, green or even blue might have been a wiser decision, but it seems they figure planting thousands of trees and waiting decades was a better solution. Now THAT is whisky logic.

I was able to visit The Macallan distillery last month, was told of their plans to build and expand and build and produce and build, walked past their steel washbacks, witnessed their famously small stills bubbling all the way up their short necks, experienced their "story of wood" sensory exhibit, and tasted a few of their products in the award winning visitor centre under the tutelage of some very friendly guides.

Described by Paul Pacult, the renowned international whisky writer, in his book Kindred Spirits as: "simply the best 12 Year Old single malt around", The Macallan has justly reaped such critical acclaim. But in the UK there is only the 10yo version of the sherried Macallan which suggests that Pacult should end his sentence with "...around these parts." So in markets where the 12 isn't available, I suppose some other whisky is the best? Anyways, let's taste.

Thanks to LC and KF for the drops.

Macallan 12 (1990s)


Big sherry, chocolate, and some orange. Oaky and slightly peppery. Dangerous to nose too deeply. Hot and funky. Fresh coconut, green apples, white grapes, waxy and cheesy like brie.

Soft and rich with oaky and sherried tones. Toasty and warming with some allspice and ginger. Heavily toasted almonds, nearly burnt pine nuts. Drying in time. Flavours sweeten in the finish but general feel remains dry.


Strange because there seems to be juvenile or undermatured spirit detectable under heavy and rich sherried tones. If this is your thing then you already know it is and nothing I say will have any effect on you.

Macallan 12 (2004)


Apricots and milk. Yogurt. Butter and peaches. Sweet and salty sherry, almost fishy. A little smoky or even tarry. Toffeed and quite inviting.

Initially sweet, then coal smoke weightiness. Very nutty, toasty character. Fish and yeast. Sherry. Oaky finish with a bit of that cheap butterscotch flavour like from an ice cream truck.


The more recent bottling had a harder impact but fuller flavour, if somewhat one dimensional. Both had a sour or cheesy or fishy organic note beneath all the sherry but it was certainly more prominent in the more recent bottling. Nonetheless, a classic Speysider that has worked hard to earn its place in the minds of malt lovers.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It should be noted of course that here in the UK, the unfailing does offer both the Fine Oak and Sherry Oak at 12 years. (And no, I don't work for them!)

In fact TWE even has Jim Murray favourite Old Parr Superior - virtually unavailable anywhere else in the UK.

As regards Macallan, I think I'll stick to the FO 15 and SO 18 - both truly wonderful.