Macallan Sienna


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Distillery/Brand: Macallan | Region: Highland | ABV: 43% | Colour: Pale Straw
Nose: 20 | Taste: 19 | Finish: 20 | Balance: 20 | Rating: 79

Review
I have had the pleasure of sitting across Mr Bob Dalgarno, the famed Macallan Whisky Maker, for an interview and a subsequent tasting and I have to admit I was left with nothing but admiration for the man.

The painstaking process he undergoes to ensure that all his whiskies are created from careful barrel selection and put together to maintain consistency in taste and color is truly an art form.

Which is why I’m pretty sure it was the sales and marketing team and not Bob him self who felt that the right way forward for Macallan was to base their entry level whiskies on the basis of color.

Stupidest thing I’ve heard in my life.

They spend an entire lifetime trying to tell people that color means nothing, and it does not. Then they come and do the exact opposite because they’ve run out of ideas to market their whiskies by convincing people that darker whiskies are better whiskies.

Look I know stocks are dwindling. Whisky makers and blenders have to start innovating and thinking of new ways to market their whiskies to travel retail. I get that. But to take something as superfluous as color as a sign of quality is surely a great disservice to the patrons of the industry, is it not?

Oh, well. The Bentley needs regular maintenance doesn’t it?

This 1824 travel retail series has four color expressions – Gold, Amber, Sienna & Ruby – each one darker than the previous one. Each one more expensive than the previous one.

The Sienna (the second most-expensive and second darkest whisky in the range) is, obviously, a Non Age Statement and is a mix of first and second fill sherry casks from Jerez. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 43%

Nose: Butter. Sherry. Nutmeg. Raisins. Hint of oak. Touch mossy. Like bung cloth. Let it sit and the vanilla comes through. Sponge cake. Cinnamon. Green apples. Touch of chocolate. Light hay. Quite a non-descript nose. Starts off smelling creamy but then thins out a bit. (20/25)

Palate: Medium bodied. Oily. Tastes of raw spirit a little. Cake. Nutmeg. Coffee. Those green apples again. Vanilla. Nutmeg. Hint of oak. Sherry. Dark fruits. It’s not the best palate I’ve tasted. Something raw and harsh about it even after 30 minutes of breathing. (19/25)

Finish: Absolutely nothing at first. Pufffff and gone. Very flat. But comes back after a while. Slowly warms your chest cavity and your mouth. Cocoa beans. Coffee. Quite malty. (20/25)

Overall Comments: I guess there’s two types of people. The 99% that are reasonably fond of whisky and not very judgemental or critical. And that’s fine and I hold nothing against them. Then there’s you and me who get upset because this once great brand has resorted to cheap tactics like this. I get it. Greatness can’t be purchased at the duty free. But it still irks me when brands don’t even try.

Rating: 79

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3 thoughts on “Macallan Sienna

  1. Scotch is permitted to contain caramel color. The only country that requires the coloring additive to be stated in the labeling is Germany. I don’t speak German but I’ve heard that if you want to know the truth about color and scotch, buy a bottle made for the German market. Even bourbon isn’t allowed to contain color….

    • I’m pretty sure there’s no coloring inside these. I’m just irritated at a distillery like Macallan using colors as a means of signifying quality.

      I know about the German laws. Good on them.

      • I’ve seen people in the market who “Ooh” and “Ahh” at this line. Their buying this whisky seems to have less to do with whisky and more to do with narcissism and flash. Part of me doesn’t feel bad for them or Macallan. It’s analogous to certain models that Porsche sells – if you’ll even accept that Macallan is the Porsche of whisky. They know the attitude of certain customers.

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