Google A trio of recent Macallan

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

February 22, 2024


A trio of recent Macallan

We often joke about Macallan, as it's considered the epitome of the malt whisky that everyone desires, somewhat like Rolex in the world of watches or Porsche 911s in the automotive sector. It must be admitted that, all things considered, Macallan is less expensive than Rolex but, on the other hand, the quantities produced are on a different scale altogether. A new capacity of over 15 million LPA (litres of pure alcohol) per year, which is roughly 4% or just under the entire Scottish malt production capacity, places it as number three after Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, well ahead of the fourth, Glenmorangie. But everything we're recounting here isn't of great importance, of course we cherish each and every bottle of Macallan, from the simple current NAS to the magnificent antique 50-year-old 1928 that we tried last year. But let's see what we have that's relatively new at Château WF...


This isn't 19th-century African art, it's one of Macallan's famous promotional 'Sleeping Barrel' ice buckets, circa 1975. There were many versions, all highlighting the fact that every Macallan whisky first sleeps peacefully in its Spanish oak sherry cask, where it must never be disturbed. There were also television adverts on the same theme in certain countries, such as Italy.



Macallan 12 yo 'The Colour Collection' (40%, OB, 2023)

Macallan 12 yo 'The Colour Collection' (40%, OB, 2023) Three stars and a half
Around 150€ vs. around 70€ for the 12 yo 'Double Cask', there must be something happening. Pure golden promise? Proper sherry butts used in bodegas and not just seasoned? What's sure is that the label is beautiful. And the whisky, you may ask? Let's see… Colour: deep gold. Nose: reassuring, slightly fat given the low strength – which is good – with rather a lot of beeswax and many dandelion flowers, then some apricot and mirabelle jams, juicy fresh sultanas, fudge, acacia honey… It would then fade away a little bit, because of the bizarrely low strength. Are we still in 1995? Mouth: good presence, with the expected roasted nuts and toasted breads, but some burnt oak tends to feel in the background. Some chestnut honey, black Assam (remember we say Assam for any black tea, ha), black pepper, a wee bit of cardboard that, indeed, feels a little '1995'… And some fresh marmalade and more mirabelle jam lifting it a little bit. Finish: short, the 40% vol. really feel now. Or rather, they do not feel. Cardboard, sawdust, marmalade, dried apricots. Comments: it's rather simple, 84 points at 40% vol. and probably 85 at 43% vol., 86 at 46% and 87 at 50%. You bet!
SGP:451 - 84 points.

Macallan 'Litha' (40%, OB, for China, 1st fill sherry, 2023)

Macallan 'Litha' (40%, OB, for China, 1st fill sherry, 2023) Four stars
Only NAS and 40% vol. again, but 1st fill sherry (seasoning)! You cannot have everything, I suppose, even in China. The price is totally typo-y (meaning it can only be a typo at 300-400€). Apparently, Litha means 'light' in some kind of Celtic language – or is it Gaelic? Mandarin? Cantonese? Colour: dark gold/light amber. Nose: clearly something old-school Macallan, with a rather perfect sherry indeed, many roasted nuts, rather rose and jasmine this time, dark honeys, dried figs and dates, blueberry muffins, a fresh box of cigars, a little parsley and mint, some black earth (potting soil) and peanut butter… This really is an awesome nose, despite the strength. But low strengths rather feel on your palate… Mouth: not as 'peacocky' on the palate, but this was to be expected. Once again the wood feels a little bit, with more black tea and pepper, while the distillate would try to shoot dried fruits, marmalade and roasted nuts. Sadly, it remains a little weak and thin, which I find frustrating. Why 40% vol.! Finish: shortish, nuttier. Walnut cake and marmalade in the even shorter aftertaste. Comments: very light on your palate, indeed pretty 'Litha'. The nose was very adorable.
SGP:551 - 85 points.

Macallan 18 yo 'The Colour Collection' (43%, OB, travel retail, 2023)

Macallan 18 yo 'The Colour Collection' (43%, OB, travel retail, 2023) Four stars
Ex-seasoned sherry oak, not sure if it was full-maturation or some 'enhancement', not sure that even matters (good mood mode activated here). Colour: dark gold. Nose: once again, it is rather 'old-school Macallan' while we're no longer too worried that the palate might be too light and too unbalanced by the wood since this baby has been bottled at 43% ABV. The difference is enormous between 40 and 43, we all know that. We find the usual dried and fresh figs, the apricots, some dried pears (slices), some high-end apple compote, various raisins, plum pudding, treacle toffee, kumquats and bergamots, some Demerara sugar, caramel and fudge… Nutshell: all is well. Mouth: there's much more happening in this one, the oak doesn't quite get in the way and the fruits in all their forms have plenty of room to express themselves. Kumquats, raisins, tangerines, figs, jujubes, apples, then honey, maple syrup and chocolate,  the latter becoming then a little bitter and drying, which comes from the oak I would suppose. No big deal, it's an excellent one. Also a little meatiness ala M**** (another 'M', a.k.a. the beast of Dufftown). Finish: still a little short and dry, but these peppered Seville oranges and these cloves do really work. Hints of honeysuckle. Comments: around 500-600€, apparently. No comments, except that to be honest, we would have preferred it to be a bit stronger, but it's still very good.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Macallan remains one of the rare examples of a product that is mass-produced and yet still sold at an extremely high price. In essence, the epitome of a Veblen good (*) (at time of writing).

(*) A Veblen good is a type of luxury good for which the demand increases as the price increases, in apparent contradiction of the law of demand, resulting in an upward-sloping demand curve. The higher prices of Veblen goods may make them desirable as a status symbol in the practices of conspicuous consumption and conspicuous leisure. - Wikipedia.

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Macallan we've tasted so far







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