Thursday, March 25, 2010

Malt Mission 2010 #383

The Macallan 18yo scotch whisky
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky

43% abv

$150 (USD)
$289.95 (CAD)

The Macallan is one of the most well-recognised malts in the world, and as such, often attracts a good deal of attention, both positive and negative.

The recent, and gradual, release/implementation of The Macallan Ice Ball Serve has been embraced by bars and accounts that can accommodate the item, envied in the pages of lifestyle magazines, websites, and blogs, and bitched about by almost everyone with a Glencairn glass, a MaltAdvocate and/or WhiskyMagazine subscription, and a QWERTY.

Just last week, on the back of a UK press release about "
an innovative serving method expressly for those who like their whisky with ice," John Hansell threw the concept into the ring for the Malt Advocan'ts to have their way with. And they weren't gentle. 78 comments later, ranging from the pseudo-scientific, to the super silly, we are left with a bitter taste in our mouths. And it has nothing to do with the 100% sherry cask maturation.

There are really too many comments that demand address to cite here... I love that selling whisky is what the folks who sell whisky do best. Selling whisky is what got us to where we are today, with folks from Norway to Nagasaki to Newfoundland enjoying seemingly infinite amounts of fine single malts and being able to share their opinions about them online and at whisky fests and the like. The ideas presented to the contrary go beyond average connoisseur cyicism about marketing, beyond "back in my day..." nostalgia...
Cowdery nailed it: check your hubris!

What, you've started a fricking Facebook page now? Hey, grab a dram and let's put whisky where your mouth is.

If you are enjoying a lovely single cask Mortlach, or a Clynelish, or a Brora, or any number of the 90+ single malts that most folks who want their Macallan served on a gorgeous sphere of ice have never heard of, please remember that if Johnnie Walker had not "conned consumers" with the seemingly corrupt aim of "selling more whisky", you would be drinking one of only 4 remaining distilleries in Scotland (and for good measure they'd be called The Smooth Sweeter One, The Rich Spicy One, The...)

I have no point that I am overly committed to here other than the general desire to urge connoisseurship to take a breath, top up their dram, and join me at camera 2.

Calm the fuck down.

For more Macallan distillery info, or to see all Macallans had on the Malt Mission, click HERE.


Rich, assertive sherry impressions, layered with malty fudge notes, dates, raisins, and apple butter.

Apples, dry sherry, calvados, evolving into rich, toasty oak full of char, caramel, raisins, and candy floss. Nice bitter/dry/sweet balance through the finish.


Rich enough to make you feel the same. A very chewy and engaging classic malt. Full flavours that make big impressions with no apparent attempts at subtlety. (And holy shit, did you see the LCBO price for this?!!? Totalitario.)

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Luke - AspiringGentleman said...

Great post. If having people drink their whisky with ice, or soda water, or whatever means that more whiskies make it to market, I'm definitely a supporter.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr Sam,
All marketing and communication issues in my view. Most brands, probably all actually, forgot that you cannot only think ‘market segments’ anymore. Segments do still exist when actual selling is concerned (indeed, people who buy a Brora 30yo probably won’t buy Macallan’s 12yo Fine Oak, and maybe not one of Diageo’s expensive MCs) but segments do not really exist anymore on the Internet. Or rather, they severely overlap. John Hansell’s forum is a good example, you have street drinkers and ‘connoisseurs’ alike who swap comments and ideas. That didn’t exist in printed media, magazines and such. Same on Twitter, ‘connoisseurs’ follow ‘PR types’ and reversely. A message to the street drinkers will obligatorily impact the ‘enlightened’ as well – and probably first, generating some obligatory flak as the message was built for the street drinker, not for the ‘cognoscenti’. The other problem is that large websites aimed at the ‘aficionados’ (ha, I’m running short of descriptors) are very high on google, sometimes even higher than the brands’ own websites. Very hard to control – and the guys are not only not brand loyal, they’re even brand disloyal!
This new paradigm leads some new voices to claim that you simply shouldn’t use digital media anymore when not addressing the ‘supposedly learned’, as the ‘supposedly learned’ (influencers?) seem to control a large part of the Internet, the buzz and all that jazz. An extreme POV for sure but when looking at what some other hugely successful brands do – or rather do not do -, you cannot not think that it makes sense, in a certain way. Or a matter of moderation again?

Oliver Klimek said...

Pardon me that I'm still a little hubrating, but do you in fact agree with the video that this is the ultimate way to enjoy the Mac?

Hypocrite lecteur said...

I am sorry, dear Dr, but the only one that comes across as needing hubris is you. Really, all comments ranged from pseudoscientific to silly? Not one of them achieved your high intellectual standards?And what does the facebook page has to do with anything? It is not like facebook pages are Laws Of The Universe.

Again, oh-bather-in-whisky, people are afraid that their favorite drink could-just maybe could- lose its character for the sake of massive sales. If you do not think that is a possibility, you need lessons in history. Or Googling.

Dr. Whisky said...

What a sweet note! Thank you.

But you nearly lost me at "you need hubris" (paraphrase).

If whisky is truly at rish of losing its character, whatever the hell that means, it will not be anything new. The masses do not want character, they want vodka, table red, drinks with enhanced mixability and neutral, inoffensive flavours. Single Malts are a realisation of the opposite achievement.

Unknown said...

No, it was not sweet. It was angry.

The hubris refers to the fact that you found all comments on a very popular blog at best pseudo-scientific and at worst silly. All of them. And advised them to 'calm the fuck down'. Why they should be calm when an $150 (much much more in my home country), priced as such supposedly for its nose and palate, is promoted as ice fodder, is up for questions, I suppose.

As for the character in the single malt whisky, my own meager experience from whisky and whisky drinkers points very definitely that many of them do know what the hell that is. Your own comments in this very blog are also strong indicators of that, or are usually taken to be.

Now, I don't know about "the masses" and all that jazz. I know however, that making a very distinctive drink into something more general requires care. I, for one, would not be happy to see it become vodka-like. There are other ways to make it more approachable.

I also don't like the opposite route sometimes taken, the "Cognac way", which treats malt like some kind of whisky Ferrari. So as to be clear.