The Whisky Pilgrimage…Episode 5 – Sherry Matured Selection #2 – Macallan 12

Holy smokes, this has been a very long time coming!!

This month has been busy beyond all belief. It’s hard to face up to the fact that this is the first entry for this month, but let’s not wallow in it & instead just jump into things.

February – Sherry Matured Selection #2

Following up on my initial selection of Aberlour 10, I had a few criteria I wanted to meet with selection #2.

First off, I wanted to go for something with a little more age to it and see whether or not the extra maturation (and the price tag that comes attached!) really makes a difference to me. I know that if I’m comparing between different distilleries it’s a bit of an apples-to-oranges exercise, but I am not too wound up about that…after all, this little journey is all about exploring my personal tastes. I can’t and won’t promise a scientific approach; all I can do is try what I want and give everything an honest effort.

Additionally, I wanted to select a whisky that I haven’t really spent any meaningful amount of time with. There are many young-ish sherry matured whiskies on the market but I haven’t really checked any of them out. It’s way too easy for me to pick up the Aberlour 10 because it’s a good dram at a VERY good price. How can I justify spending more on something I may not necessarily enjoy as much as the Aberlour 10? In this case, I’ll spend more on something different because I must. The rules that I set out are performing exactly as I had hoped – it’s only the second selection and I’m already being forced to step outside of my comfort zone.

Finally, I had to find something that fit into the $45-60 range so that I had enough for another upgrade in sherry matured selection #3.

In order to meet these criteria, I have chosen Macallan 12.

I’ve dabbled with Macallan in the past – a tasting at Willow Park, a ill-advised encounter with Cask Strength at Liquorature – but have never spent enough time on one of the expressions to form a solid opinion. There are plenty of characteristics to admire in Macallan. The brand is world renowned and is nearly synonymous with “great scotch whisky”. If you dig in a little further there is a load of material which details the fussy attention to detail Macallan puts into their whisky. Marketing spin or not, it’s an intriguing brand statement and in my opinion that helps to build the mystique of a unparalleled dram.

Premium branding + expensive production practices…you guessed it: relatively speaking, Macallan ain’t cheap! Nonetheless, it’s been purchased, time to get on enjoying.


A few words on the budget…

While shopping for selection #2 I realized that the budget friendly Aberlour 10 is an exception and not the rule. Sherry matured whisky is expensive as compared to others. My understanding is that this has something to do with the cost of acquiring good sherry casks, but I can’t help but suspect that some of the cost is market driven…the stuff is really that damn good!

It didn’t take long to do the math – with a $150 budget for 3 bottles I was probably looking at a range of three 10 yr sherry matured whiskies. This isn’t exactly the interesting variety that I had in mind. In order to make February and March a little more exciting I had to make an executive decision, and what I have decided is that I am OK to go over the $150 budget for sherry matured whisky, provided that my yearly total comes out at roughly $600 then I am OK.

Full disclosure, here is where I am at so far:

1 – Aberlour 10 – $32.99

2 – Macallan 12 – $54.99

Total – $87.98. Both bottles were purchased at Real Canadian Liquorstore locations in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They don’t have a huge selection but it’s hard to beat their pricing. I’m not going to get into bulk chain vs. boutique retailer today, but I do believe that there is room for both types of retailers. More on this another time.

So…chances are I will go over budget for sherry matured, but I’m confident that I can make it up in another month. Blends are the obvious place to save money, and if the worst shall occur, I may end up on McClelland’s Islay as my final selection for the year. Don’t worry Curt, I will save you enough to do a review. I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

My initial thoughts on Macallan 12? Very nice – it’s a clean, smooth, straightforward dram with a big sherry punch. It doesn’t strike me as being as complex as the Aberlour 10, but it certainly matches up intensity wise. The the tidy profile of this whisky gives it unique character. I look forward to doing a head to head comparison between the Aberlour & this to see how they compare to one another. Lots of ground to explore. Until then, cheers!

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