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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

August 16, 2013


Tasting Macallan Ruby and official compadres

Hurray, we’ve got the new Macallan ‘Ruby’. We were missing it after having tried the Gold, the Amber, the Sienna and the Prussian Blue. Nein, that one doesn’t exist ;-). And while we’re at it and in true WF fashion, we’ll also have a few other official Macallans for good measure. Older ones, of course…

Macallan ‘Ruby’ (43%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2013)

Macallan ‘Ruby’ (43%, OB, 1824 series, +/-2013) Four stars Colour: amber. Absolutely not ruby but that’s good news. Well, they could always do a Beaujolais finish on a very young spirit if they need genuine ruby… Nose: we’re somewhere between both worlds. Modern woodiness (pencil shavings, maple syrup, vanilla) and old-style Macallan, with figs, dates, quinces, raisins and touches of both strawberry jam and orange marmalade. It is an aromatic nose, more ‘Macallan’ than many other recent offerings (certainly the Fine Oaks) and it reminds me a bit of the old ‘all blue’ 30yo. One may feel a little ‘wood technology’ but I won’t deny it’s extremely well made. So far. Mouth: the oak doesn’t feel too much but it’s simpler than on the nose, more fruity and jammy, with good chocolate and raisins. It’s a sweet one, it’s only in the background that roasted nuts add a welcome bitterness. Seville oranges. Finish: good length, chocolaty and raisiny. Smoky aftertaste, with a feeling of fresh butter (oak in this context?) Comments: this baby isn’t without reminding me of the best regular 12 yos from around fifteen years ago. It’s very ‘Macallan’, for sure, but I think I liked Sienna even better. SGP:652 - 85 points.

Macallan 12 yo 'Gran Reserva' (45.6%, OB, for Taiwan, 2007)

Macallan 12 yo 'Gran Reserva' (45.6%, OB, for Taiwan, 2007) Four stars and a half The older Gran Reservas were utter sherry monsters, so I’m curious. Colour: dark amber. Darker than Ruby. Nose: much drier, less easy, more metallic than the Ruby at first nosing. More fragrant too, with peonies and maybe a little incense, then cedar wood as well as various herbal teas. Rosehip? There’s also a growing meatiness, between bacon and cured ham, Spanish style. After ten minutes: the flowery notes grew and grew. Also walnuts from the sherry. After fifteen minutes: the metallic touches got bigger. Mouth: wrecked! A lot of plastic! This could well be an accident, thank god I have a sample from another bottle… Please allow me one or two minutes (…) Ah, no, indeed, that was an accident. This is a luscious, rich, very raisiny one. It’s almost pure jam! It’s also a little grapey, the sherry’s quite immense. It’s a rather simple palate but it’s good, provided you like heavy sweet sherry. Finish: long, on dried fruits and raisins. Classic. Comments: let’s not be picky, this phat jammy Macallan is or rather was extremely good. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Macallan Replica '1874' (45%, OB, +/-2002)

Macallan Replica '1874' (45%, OB, +/-2002) Three starsOne of these famous ‘Replicas’ that everybody seemed to kind of hate when they came out. There are various strange stories around the inception of these replicas but we’ll tell them later. Ahem. Colour: amber. Nose: it’s a cleaner, less meaty version of the Gran Reserva, but it’s just as fragrant and almost perfumy. This time it’s more sandalwood and incense, maybe roses, then cigars and the usual dried fruits, figs, raisins… There’s also some charcoal, wood smoke, then more bitter chocolate, dried porcinis... I have to say I like this nose. Mouth: I think it is struggling a bit after the Gran Reserva. There’s a bitterish, greenish astringency that makes it a little hard. Grape pips, chlorophyll, pickled ginger… But there are also much nicer sides, of course, the raisins, the figs… I also find a little gunpowder and tar. Finish: long but very grapey, acrid, kind of raspy. A one month old Pauillac ;-). Comments: a little over the top. It probably had a bad seat after the excellent Gran Reserva. SGP:471 - 80 points.

Let’s try to move up another gear if you don’t mind…

Macallan 1963 (43%, OB, UK, 75.7cl, twist cap, +/-1978)

Macallan 1963 (43%, OB, UK, 75.7cl, twist cap, +/-1978) Five stars We already had some excellent official 1963s, especially from a ‘very good’ decanter (WF 88) and a smoky one for Rinaldi in Italy (WF 91). Colour: amber. Nose: bottle ageing did wonders on this one – unless it was already greatly complex back in 1978? It is these bottles that built the legend of Macallan. Especially the complexity is astounding, we’re in great old wine territories. It’s actually not easy to describe because there are many aromas but none is dominant. We rather experience a feeling of fullness here. All right, if you really want to know, I’d say it’s got all dried fruits and teas and soft spices and aromatic herbs. Oops, almost forgot beef stock and chicken soup. Mouth: oh yeah, it’s old Macallan with some peat, many herbs, meats, spices and dried fruits. Where to start? Maybe with the mint lozenges, the liquorice and the chocolate? Or rather with the prunes soaked in Armagnac? The coffee? The verbena and parsley? The ham, the bacon, the game? The oranges? Ultra-classic big and smoky Macallan. Finish: it’s where it loses two or three points, the finish is a little drying, almost tannic. Very nice coffee in the aftertaste, though. Comments: not much to add. A fine example of THE Macallan. SGP:553 - 92 points.

Maybe we could try another 1963? And why not an early indie for a change?

Macallan-Glenlivet 1963/1983 (92 US Proof, Duthie for Narsai's and Corti Bros, USA, 75cl)

Macallan-Glenlivet 1963/1983 (92 US Proof, Duthie for Narsai's and Corti Bros, USA, 75cl) Two stars The Corti Bros also had some great HP! Colour: gold (less sherry, if any!) Nose: strange, very strange. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such a ‘blend’ of Swiss cheese with putty/paraffin and Chartreuse or other complex herbal liqueurs (Bénédictine?) As usual, it’s always very hard to guess what was there in the first place and what came from bottle ageing (the bottle was opened in May, so that’s thirty years in glass, more or less) but it’s all very mysterious. It’s even got an absinthy side, serious. So wormwood, aniseed, menthol, thyme/thymol… It’s a stunning nose I have to say, but it’s also scary because many old whiskies that display a lot of mint/herbs on the nose can be completely ‘out’ on the palate, IMHO. Let’s see… Mouth: well if this is sherry it’s second or third fill. It’s ‘stunning’ whisky because for once, old Macallan’s distillate can talk freely. It’s actually quite ‘old Highlands’, closer to say Clynelish or Pulteney than to any contemporary Speysider (including Macallan), and it’s actually very waxy, phenolic, resinous in a way, so sappy, inky, sooty… But is all that really enjoyable? Maybe not that much, actually, because beyond any historical interest, it’s also rather acrid, astringent spirit. Raw and rough, if you will, and in that sense rather un-Macallan. In truth, what I was fearing when nosing it does kind of happen, it’s very astringent whisky. Finish: long, acrid, very green and very drying. Cardboardy and soapy aftertaste. Comments: this baby was a very ‘intellectual’ Macallan. It’s very interesting, but it’s not ‘good’. The nose was quite great, though. SGP:372 - 75 points.

(with heartfelt thanks to Benjamin, Emmanuel, Konstantin and Olivier)

More tasting notes Check the index of all Macallan I've tasted so far


Pete McPeat and Jack Washback







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