Macallan Edition No 2

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Distillery/Brand: Macallan | Region: Highland | ABV: 48.2% | Colour: Copper
Nose: 7.6 | Palate: 6.4 | Finish: 6.2 | Overall Score: 6.7

Review
I started off writing a long-winded opinion piece on how I feel about Macallan. But I chose not to. There’s no point. They’re a whisky that was once known as the Rolls Royce of whiskies. Now it’s more like a Toyota Prius, if you ask me.

I even had a wonderful distillery tour a few months ago where we tasted some really old, precious liquid and met with amazing people and so I find myself feeling just a little guilty about running them down.

Don’t get me wrong. I want to love this whisky. I am in love with the older stock. Anything bottled in the early 2000s was just stellar. But try getting your hands on that now. There aren’t enough gold doubloons in this world.

And the newer NAS stuff is just so predictable. It’s almost like I can see into the future when I open up a new release from them, especially Travel Retail, which is where I found this.

So here I am. Nosing this nicely packaged Macallan which has cool story behind it. Three Spanish chefs, the Roca Brothers, and Bob Dalgarno got together and created this whisky. I don’t know what role the brothers had in it but thats what the literature says.

Then there’s the casks. So many casks. Tevasa European Oak, Diego Martin European & American Oak, Jose Miguel Martin European Oak and Vasyma Oak. I’ll be honest this is the first time I’m hearing these names. I’m not a big fan of using so many casks to make one whisky. But I’m not Bob, so what do I know.

My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 48.2%

Nose: Blood oranges. Warm sherry. Vanilla. Bob does know how to create a nose, I’ll give him that. Red apples. Clove. Hint of oak. Gets drier over time. Dry fruits. Forest potpourri. Toffee. Cinnamon. Dry figs. A hint of cherries. This is a pretty damn good nose. What I would like to smell in a sherry-influenced whisky. 7.6

Palate: This is where my troubles start. Solid nose, so-so palate. WHY? Even though it has a nice texture it doesn’t work for me. Something acrid here. Oranges. Oak. Cinnamon. There’s something bitter. Red apples. Nutmeg. It’s not horrendous but I wish it was spectacular. 6.4

Finish: Black tea. Cinnamon. 6.2

Overall Comments: So there you have it. Like so many Macallans of late it makes some strong promises but fails to deliver.

Overall Score: 6.7

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Ardbeg Kelpie Committee Release

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 51.7% | Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: 8.4 | Palate: 8.0 | Finish: 8.2 | Overall Score: 8.2

Review
Back to back Ardbegs! That’s how we like to live our life. Especially if there’s not much to complain about. After the funny sounding An Oa it’s the equally ludicrous Kelpie.

Jackie, over at the visitors centre at Ardbeg, was kind enough to set aside a case of the Committee bottling before our trip to Islay on account of them disappearing off the shelves well before the Feis rolls around. We had a couple of wee sips while at the distillery but nothing formal.

Last night was the first time I actually sat down with it.

So what is it? To be honest it’s just another cool story that’s trying to conceal how young this whisky is. Really. Look, I appreciate all the endearing tales they come up with – who doesn’t – and more than that I appreciate each and everyone who works at the distillery. They are the absolute best.

And it’s because of that we all smile and nod our heads as they tell us tales about monsters covered in seaweed that emerge from the depths of the sea or listen attentively to brand ambassadors as they explain what virgin oak from the Black Sea is. I’m still not quite sure, to be honest.

But I don’t want the age of the whisky to detract from the fact that this is a perfectly acceptable tipple. Nothing much wrong. Nothing much spectacular either but then the industry has been letting us down so often that we’re rather happy when something is not absolutely horrendous.

Oh, the pain of living in a world where we crave adequacy.

“Stop being melodramatic” says my brain. “Shut up” says my heart.

Anyway.

Bottled at 51.7% my sample is from a brand new bottle.

Nose: Rather sweet and citrus-y. Custard like sweetness. Lemon like citrus. Then the signature tones. Ash. Soot. Seaweed. Wait! Not seaweed. Kelp. Of course I smell kelp. Grapefruit. Eucalyptus (finding a lot of this lately). Let it sit and it becomes more grainy. Barley. Quite a sharp and piercing nose. Not in a bad way. In a young way, maybe. Some olive oil. Some balsamic vinegar. My wife makes a salad dressing like this. I like the salad dressing. I like this nose. 8.4

Palate: Good delivery if a little thin. Ash. Soot. Charred banana leaves. Spices. Lots of spices. And here are some more spices. Nutmeg. Clove. Cinnamon. There’s something a touch bitter here. None of the sweetness found on the nose. With water it turns more grainy. More chalky. More limestone. I wish it was sweeter. 8.0

Finish: Decent. Oily. Citrus. And that soot. 8.2

Overall Comments: It’s an Ardbeg. It’s a good Ardbeg. I wish it was a smashing Ardbeg. But that’s ok. I’ll settle for a perfectly adequate Ardbeg. The story is cute. Something about monsters. The casks are weird. Black Sea and all. I’m just happy it doesn’t suck.

Overall Score: 8.2

Ardbeg An Oa

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Distillery/Brand: Ardbeg | Region: Islay | ABV: 46.6% | Colour: Dirty Gold
Nose: 8.2 | Palate: 8.0 | Finish: 8.1 | Overall Score: 8.1

Review
I’m going to use this whisky to signal a mini comeback of sorts. Of the two people that read my reviews I’m sure one of them noticed my lethargy of late. I have no explanation for that other than I felt I was doing more whisky writing than whisky drinking. And that really started to weigh in.

Also I think I need to work on a review format that I can sustain even when the riggers of life demand my time and energy. Let’s see how that works out.

But enough about me.

Let’s talk about this silly sounding whisky. Hey, I’m not the one poking fun at it; Ardbeg are. Just watch the video they’ve made about this one. It’s quite cute.

Named after the Mull of Oa, considered one of the wildest parts of Islay, this rather decently priced young ‘un (I mean, it has to be) is an addition to the core range joining the 10, the Oogy and the Corry.

It’s a combination of PX and bourbon matured spirit finished off in French Oak and let me tell you, I like it!

Flavour profile wise it sits right in between the 10 and the Oogy. Retains the signature Ardbeg twang of sweet and citrus in a somewhat curtailed manner. Not entirely a bad thing since it’s quite flavourful.

Nose: Sharp citrus. Soot. Liquorice. Eucalyptus. Wisp of nice smoke. Milk chocolate. Becomes drier as you let it rest. Dry leaves. Lemon rind. Lime. Almost like a young Kilchoman if you ask me. Which is saying a lot. Good solid barley. Good stuff. 8.2

Palate: Off the bat, love the texture. Lately I’ve been drinking far too many weak whiskies; texture wise. So this is a welcome departure from that annoying trend. Lots of ash. White pepper. Super dry. Woody spices. Like cinnamon. Mid-palate becomes a lot more herbal. I know I’m drinking an Ardbeg and that’s wonderfully comforting. 8.0

Finish: Takes a while but comes back from the depths and stays with you. Again extremely drying. Woody. Hints of citrus. 8.1

Overall Comments: I think the French Oak is really coming into play here with the dry spices. I’m a fan of that flavour profile so call me biased. I like this spirit for what it represents. An affordable whisky that is well made. Maybe I’d hate it if this was an overpriced Festival bottle. But it’s not. It feels like it’s genuinely making the effort to be approachable and attainable. And for that I give it a tip of my hat.

Overall Score: 8.1