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

February 24, 2014


Tah-dah, more classic sherried Macallan

After the stunning 1940 that we had in Scotland one or two weeks ago, let’s have more epitomical Macallan today. In truth, I only wanted to try the newish Easter Elchies but couldn’t resist the urge to add one or two other sherried babies, especially this first well-known ‘apéritif’ that seems to be an endangered species…

Macallan 18 yo 1995 'Sherry Oak' (43%, OB, +/-2013)

Macallan 18 yo 1995 'Sherry Oak' (43%, OB, +/-2013) Four stars and a half THE classic. Not too sure if this line's been now discontinued or if they'll keep making them. Mind you, a genuine age, a genuine vintage and some genuine sherry casks from Jerez! Colour: dark amber. Nose: I don’t know how to put this, but this baby feels like home. What strikes first is a combination of juicy sultanas with orange marmalade and a new pack of eucalyptus drops, which makes it kind of wider than the usual sherry monster, whether coffeeish or Chrismassy. Then we have a little menthol, prunes, some chocolate and ganache, ultra-ripe bananas and a curious yet lovely feeling of curry powder with coconut milk and ginger. Kerala style? Mouth: it’s rather drier than expected, certainly big, very full, very rich and then ultra-raisiny, that is to say that it’s becoming sweeter indeed. Then more chocolate and touches of coffee, a wee spiciness again (mole sauce?) and the faintest traces of new oak. It’s actually not very ‘wide’ and rather pretty compact and ‘focussed’, but that works perfectly. Finish: rather long, maybe a notch oaky now, quite dry this time, with some bitter chocolate and a little mustard. The aftertaste is quite oaky. Comments: a sure bet. I think some vintages from the 1980s have been rather below par, but the recent ones are certainly up there again. SGP:551 - 89 points.

Macallan 17 yo 1996/2013 'Easter Elchies' (55.3%, OB, sherry butt, cask #26)

Macallan 17 yo 1996/2013 'Easter Elchies' (55.3%, OB, sherry butt, cask #26) Five starsThis baby was bottled only for the 'visitors to The Macallan' and it seems that that caused some huge queuing in front of the distillery's visitor centre. Colour: red mahogany. Nose: this one, while being even more sherried than the 18, also displays more bourbony notes that may come from some very active oak. Like, pencil shavings. Apart from that, it’s a maelstrom of dried fruits including small berries as well as a few mentholated notes like we found in the 18. Prunes, raspberries, dates, kumquats (there, Marcel), cassis, then more cinnamon and cocoa powder, more cassis, a lot of cassis… Crème de Cassis Dijon-style? With water: goes toward the 18, only with more freshish oak. So more pencil shavings, but also more fruitcake and spearmint. Mouth (neat): as creamy as honey and as thick as, well, honey. Almost some kind of tutti frutti jam with some green pepper, cloves, mint, liquorice and cinnamon. You may need a spoon rather than a glass! Big bitter oranges too. With water: rum and raisins emerge, and so do blood oranges and cinnamon. A wee touch of ginger from the oak. Finish: very long, a bit greener, which isn’t unpleasant. Mint-flavoured liquorice. That leaves you with an unexpected fresh and clean aftertaste. Comments: it seems that it was worth queuing up. Having said that, it’s only a notch more to my liking than the 18. The best sides of The Macallan. SGP:651 - 90 points.

Let’s go on with some independent sherries if you don’t mind…

Macallan-Glenlivet 21 yo 1974/1996 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, cask #MM6024)

Macallan-Glenlivet 21 yo 1974/1996 (46%, Murray McDavid, fresh sherry, cask #MM6024) Four stars and a half It’s old, but its strength’s not very high, so let’s have it before we tackle more punchier ones. Colour: amber. Nose: ooh, this is superb, mellower and more aromatic than the OBs, with more fresh fruits and even flowers. Superb tangerines, sultanas, ripe kiwis, bananas (it’s pretty tropical indeed) and even cut apples, passion fruits and pink grapefruits. Lovely, lovely nose, very elegant. We’re far from those massive fruitcakes… Mouth: perfect, very zesty, very fruity, with a light and complex style. Amazing oranges, grapefruits, bergamots, raisins and dried papayas. Only a very, very faint soapiness in the background leads it off the straight and narrow, which is a shame. Finish: long, with this persisting soapiness beyond the lovely fruitiness. Comments: Marray McDavid had several stunning Macallans, and this one’s a fine example. Ah, bloody wee soap, without it we’d have had a 92-punter or something. Well, it’s something between soap and rubbed orange peel. SGP:641 - 88 points.

Macallan 1980/2010 (49.6%, Jack Wiebers, Prenzlow Portfolio Colection, sherry butt, cask #16447, 120 bottles)

Macallan 1980/2010 (49.6%, Jack Wiebers, Prenzlow Portfolio Colection, sherry butt, cask #16447, 120 bottles) Two stars and a half Colour: amber. Nose: a rather dry version, rather on walnuts and hay so quite fino-ish, with some grass, bark, leaves, leather and bitter chocolate. The exact opposite of the Murray McDavid, in any case a very dry version of ex-sherry Macallan. There’s even a little antiseptic, hospital-style, that’s not immensely ‘Macallan’ in my experience. Mouth: fruitier but also a little odd, with some cardboard, ginger tonic, walnut wine and wee touches of plastic. Other than that, we have oranges and grapefruits. Finish: long but a notch bitter and gingery. Comments: not bad at all but I believe this is not exactly what you’d expect from some sherried Macallan. SGP:461 - 79 points.

Let’s try another 1980, maybe it’s a vintage issue, which should be more apparent in a young naked version at full strength. I’m asking you, what wouldn’t we do for the sake of whisky research?...

Macallan-Glenlivet 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.4%, Cadenhead's, 150th Anniversary, Black Label)

Macallan-Glenlivet 12 yo 1980/1992 (60.4%, Cadenhead's, 150th Anniversary, Black Label) Three stars and a halfRocket fuel? Let’s see… Colour: straw. Nose: another world. This is all on barley and apples and apples and barley, with only a hint of paraffin that, indeed, may be related to the ‘plastic’ side that we found in the Prenzlow. Also white chocolate and some kind of wood smoke. Pinewood? All this is rather brutal and youthful. You little rascal! With water: oooh, water works and brilliantly so. In fact, we now have a pretty Springbanky, old-style whisky that’s rather petroly, sooty and globally mineral. Great wax too. Mouth (neat): high impact naked barleyish, lemony and kind-of-waxy/plasticky malt whisky. Brutal stuff, water is needed indeed. With water: bingo again! I wouldn’t say the plastic is totally eradicated, but the added lemon notes manage to bury it. Great wax again, somewhat ala Clynelish. Finish: long, grassier, sharp, mineral. Comments: it’s pretty mysterious style, not quite Macallan, probably with some tiny flaws here and there, but also a wonderful old-Highlands style. Interesting, very interesting… SGP:352 - 84 points.

All right, a last one for the road, and we’ll go back to sherry this time…

Macallan 20 yo 1984/2005 (55.9%, Signatory, sherry butt, cask #7099, 515 bottles)

Macallan 20 yo 1984/2005 (55.9%, Signatory, sherry butt, cask #7099, 515 bottles) Three stars Let’s take care, it’s the 80s again… Colour: amber. Nose: a little closed, maybe, with rather leaves and leather at first nosing. So a kind of leafy sherry, not very aromatic despite some nice whiffs of oranges and cloves. With water: more oranges, marmalade, maybe plums, and a few strawberries that come unexpected. Some tobacco too. A fine nose. Mouth (neat): good oranges and kumquats, ginger, cinchona, leather… Some kind of wood polish too, tonic water, paraffin again, plasticine… Like many independents from that era or before, it hasn’t got the fullness of the OBs. Still nice whisky, though. With water: good but once again I find an odd waxiness, around plasticine. Was that a style? Finish: of medium length, quite clean, leafy, with oranges and a drop of seawater. Comments: independent Macallans used to be quite rare, and they were often pretty unlikely in my experience. The exact opposite of several other brands, where the large indies such as Signatory often had/have better bottlings. Go figure! SGP:451 - 80 points.

(With thanks to Benjamin, Konstantin and Marco)

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







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