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

Macallan 18 Year Old Fine Oak

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Distillery/Brand: Macallan | Region: Highland | ABV: 43% | Color: Young Sauternes
Nose: 23 | Taste: 24 | Finish: 23 | Balance: 23 | Rating: 93

Review
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Macallans’ reclusive Mr Bob Dalgarno and came away immensely impressed with his humility and his considerable skill as a whisky maker.

The Fine Oak series is his baby and I recall him telling me that after the Sherry Oak all eyes were on him to come up with a new type of expression. His idea was something that would drastically change the way Macallan matured it’s spirit. Traditionally using only sherry casks the Fine Oak range uses ex-Bourbon, ex-European Sherry and ex-American Sherry casks.

The experiment paid off and catapulted both Bob and Macallan into whisky royalty. Now only third behind Glenfiddich in global single malt sales Macallan deservedly enjoys its place as the malt to be seen with.

Using only 16% of the spirit cut for maturation I guess one could begin to understand the price tag this whisky demands. Unlike other ‘premium’ status symbol whiskies (like Blue Label) which the connoisseur will avoid Macallan manages to walk the fine line between consistent quality and packaged prestige.

Before I share my notes let me tell you this 18 year old is quite possibly the smoothest delivery you will ever experience in your life.

Nose: Dark jam. Marmalade. Cinnamon. Dry fruits. Almonds. Malt. Crisp grass. Melted butter. Vanilla. Honeycomb. And the richest of sherries. Quite a lovely nose.

Palate: As I let the spirit cascade into my mouth my eyes actually widened at the unexpectedly smooth texture. On the sweeter side the flavors are perfectly balanced. Light honey. Marmalade. Very mild peppers. Oranges. Vanilla. Figs. Prunes. And that luxurious sherry yet again. Brilliant.

Finish: Medium. Touch of oaky fruitcake.

Bob is a gifted individual and a passionate one at that. And this 18 year old is testament to that.

Rating: 93

Macallan Select Oak

Macllan SelectOak

Distillery/Brand: Macallan | Region: Highland | ABV: 40% | Color: Pale Straw
Nose: 21 | Taste: 20 | Finish: 20 | Balance: 20 | Rating: 81

Review
I have had the pleasure of meeting Bob Dalgarno, the man responsible for crafting these Macallan whiskies and I have to tell you he knows his stuff.

The painstaking procedure he goes to ensure consistency of color, flavor and taste is mind boggling. Macallan whiskies have no added color which makes it even more impressive. But what I like most about Bob is that he’s an honest guy and calls a spade a spade.

Which makes me want to believe even he realizes that this is not one of his finest creations.

The spirit has been matured in three different casks – Spanish Sherry, American Oak that held sherry and ex-Bourbon. That is a lot of work for an entry level single malt but, unfortunately, it doesn’t translate into greatness.

Nose: Very vanilla sweet. Sherry raisins on oaky cinnamon and clove peppers. Lots of warm toffee and raisin butterscotch. Hints of chocolate and black salted apples. It’s not a bad nose mind you.

Palate: Tragically weak. Simply fails to excite. The chocolate and dark honey are shadows as are the cinnamon and pepper spices.

Finish: What finish?

Now let me tell you something. I am notoriously against food pairings because it doesn’t let me enjoy my whisky properly but with this one I am willing to make an exception. If you want this whisky to taste brilliant pair it with a tiramisu cake. It will knock your socks off.

To get your socks back on go back to drinking it neat.

Rating: 81

The Macallan 12 Fine Oak

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Distillery/Brand: Macallan
Region: Highland
ABV: 40%
Colour: Pale Straw

Nose: 23
Taste: 24
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
This is what every Highland single malt should taste like. Delicate and sensitive as well as bold and courageous.

Incidentally this is one of the first single malts I had ever bought and I think it was the reason I fell in love. Familiar aromas of honey, vanilla and hints of coconut remind me of why I got into malting in the first place. Robust barley lightly dusted with brown sugar and then rubbed on bright green pears makes this nose possibly one of my all time favorites to come out of the Highlands.

The velvet delivery is almost perfect as it starts off honeyed followed by black pepper and cinnamon. Swish it around your mouth and you can discern the deftest of dark chocolate and a drop of citrus.

The medium to long finish is dry and quite oaky – I think that’s where the Fine Oak comes into it’s own – with a touch of nuts and an eyebrow raising stick of clove.

I have to admit; this malt makes me happy.

Rating: 92

The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak

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Distillery/Brand: Macallan
Region: Highland
ABV: 40%
Colour: Pale Gold

Nose: 23
Taste: 23
Finish: 22
Balance: 23

Review
There was a time when I remember wanting to drink only Sherry influenced whiskies and this expression was the reason why.

The nose is pretty much in perfect harmony. Big, fat, juicy, red grapes covered in sugar, sprinkled with black pepper, dipped in caramel and then dusted with dark chocolate are presented to you on a silver platter. A final nose brings out the beautiful wooden sherried oak that makes this nose what it is.

Like most Macallan’s I’ve tasted the liquid is pure velvet. Burnt toast with black pepper and tiny cloves is the first thing to greet you. This is followed by the unmistakable taste of charred orange rind. Finally the palate is wrapped in a swirl of caramel, jaggery and a hint of roasted nuts.

The lovely long finish with it’s dry clove and nuts feels quite mature for it’s twelve years.

Pour your self a dram, sit back and relax. It’s going to be a long night.

Rating: 91