Macallan Cask Strength Review

Macallan Cask Strength

59.3% abv

Score:  89.5/100


Let’s not delve into the comparison conversations that always crop up regarding the young cask strength sherry bombs.  They’ve been tackled rather relentlessly to date, and I’m sure that at this point most drinkers and drammers have sworn their allegiance to one or the other.  Or the other.  Whatever.

There’s simply no two ways about it.  This Macallan holds its own and stands on its own two feet, needing no competition as a measuring stick to assert its value.  This is a damn good malt.  Overpowered and bursting at the seams with flavor, this is a whisky for snowy winter eves and late summer nights.  Fortunately…we have stunning examples of both in Western Canada, so there is no shortage of excuses to tip the bottle.  Not that I ever need an excuse to justify indulgence in that aural beauty of the pop of a cork from a bottle of single malt.

First things first…extra points for the absolutely sparkling clean Oloroso.  Love ’em or hate ’em, you have to concede that Macallan get some truly pristine sherry casks to work with.  The inherent perks in having direct linkages to their own bodegas in Spain, I suppose.

Snug in that nest of comforting sherry are deep dark vanilla, toffee and chewy dried fruits.  Fresh fruits, by way of black cherry and concorde grapes.  The nose alone sets my mouth to watering, with its heavy array of branch-bending juicy tree fruits.  Darker nuances like chocolate and shredded tobacco as well.

The palate is chewy and rich in spicy sherry notes of rum-soaked fruit, citrus and vanilla extract.  Some sort of caramel/toffee warmth and cocoa meet pleasant oaky charm.

One of my favorite Macallan’s, to be certain, and a good go-to when it is one of those ‘sweet tooth’ evenings.  This Macallan, I believe, was bottled for Canada (or maybe North America…can’t remember exactly what I had heard), and sadly is to become obsolete if rumours are to be believed.  Snatch up a bottle or three while you can.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

21 thoughts on “Macallan Cask Strength Review

  1. Robert

    Good stuff, once I realized I needed to add more water to it than any other malt. Neat it is overpowering, both in alcohol and cough medicine taste. Once you add significant water, the sherry is very enjoyable. Agree it is one to have around. I can see drinking it when I’m shoveling snow in a few months, instead of Rumpelminz schnapps.
    I’m currently drinking Macallan Fine Oak 15 Yo. Reminds me somewhat of GlenDronach 15 Revival, but the edge to the Revival.
    Good review and I obviously agree!

  2. Jeff

    Nice review and the sherry is really well done for a cask strength; it’s certainly the best value among those in the range I’ve tried. Maybe the most restrained of it, the Glenfarclas 105 and the Aberlour a’bunadh (although I’d say the other two are equally good) any of the three is good for seeing the effect of water dilution on the character of whisky – giving you a number of different whiskies in one bottle. It also can lead to questioning why distillers chose some of the bottling strengths they do when a few more percent ABV could make such a difference (although, of course, the margin would be less).

    Robert, where would you put the Macallan 15 Fine Oak and the Revival out of 100 and how do they stack up against the Highland Park 15?

    1. Robert

      Revival is the best to me. It has a great nose and palate. It’s only weakness is the length of the finish, but the taste of the finish is wonderful. The review here is spot-on. I haven’t tasted one like it before. The other two are about equal in quality, but very different. The M15 has a long and very good finish and reminds me somewhat of the CS after it’s watered down some, but maybe slightly better. However, it is more expensive than the CS. The HP15 is totally different, with a mixed fruit salad taste, and less spice than the HP12. I would still pick the 15 over the 12, but the 18 and still much better than both. You can’t go wrong with any of the three, but I’d pick the Revival first. It is the most expensive though.

      1. David

        I have to say the A’Bunadh remains my favouriTe sherried cask strength Whisky, closely rivaled by Bladnoch at 55%

          1. david

            I’ve now tried 33, 34 and 38. I must say I would give 33 a mark around 95, and the other 2 pretty close to it.

            I have a bottle of the 28, which I hear is legendary, and am saving it for a spevial time, when my palate is even more mature.

            I now have 9 different batches in my collection, and looking forward to exploring them in the future.

            I’m also hoping to snag a couple of 42s, for the obvious reason…

  3. Jeff

    I have the 33 as well, and I give it a 93; big, beautiful, round whisky. I’ve also heard that the Batch 23 is very good. Thanks for the info. Sláinte!

    1. ATW Post author

      Batch 28 is best of the dozen or so batches I’ve tried to date. I put aside a couple extras for rainy days to come.

  4. ATW Post author


    Just for shits n’ giggles…if you’re at all interested in contributing your own tasting notes on a single whisky of your choice for an upcoming feature here on ATW, please drop me a line at Will fill you in via email. Cheers.

    1. Jeff

      Sorry to leave it here, but there are no Scapa reviews yet. I’m just working through my first Scapa 16 after putting together a couple of soleras as per Ralfy’s suggestion (pretty good so far, a Highland “James Bond Commemorative” and a Maritime, though I think the latter is better). Does anyone have any experience with this distillery? I like the 16 fine, kind of a sharp, dry Glenlivet-on-the-sea, but I understand that the 14 was generally considered to be better.

      1. ATW Post author

        Working on an ‘Orkney Night’ tasting here. Scapa vs Highland Park. You should soon see reviews of Scapa 14, 16, an indie from G&M, an SMWS and hopefully the 12.

  5. Robert

    Better load up for the holidays! I’ve been holding off buying any more bottles, but needed a Macallan CS, so I went to three stores today and found prices have either inched up or shot up on most whiskies. The first two wanted $92 for Longmorn 16! I paid $72 two months ago! And $65-75 for M-CS! Third store had gone up, but only to $76 and $56. Picked up bottles oft the CS, Bowmore 18, Oban 18 and Bruichladdich Rocks (the cheapest at $46). Total was $283 w/tax. Ridiculous increase in prices!!! You guys should stop buying scotch in protest! By the way, they still had the same one bottle of Galileo that was sitting there two weeks ago ($64). Even a peathead like me didn’t bite. At least not again!

    1. Jeff

      Not currently available to me through the LCBO, but what do you think (to Robert, as well as the gallery) of the Oban 18 out of 100? Of the 14 out of 100? I’ve got my Oban 14 on the ropes and, at an outrageous replacement cost of $109.95, I doubt I’ll ever be back, except at a bar or with a mini, and then some years down the road (and with current quality “slippage”, who knows?). I find Oban kind of a multi-role malt, doing a lot of things (smoke, maritime, highland), but not doing any of them exceptionally well (unlike, say Highland Park 12) – No offense, but I just don’t find Oban, like Dalwhinnie or Cragganmore, distinctive enough to be anyone’s favourite whisky (I give the Oban 14 an 87, though I shoot about 5 points high compared to the pros). Any thoughts on Oban or the other two Classic Malts mentioned?

      1. Robert

        Sorry for the delay! I got my third grandchild this last weekend, so I’ve been busy. I haven’t had time to open the Oban 18 yet and can’t remember much about the 14, as it’s been a while. As I didn’t buy a bottle of the 14, I must not have been overly impressed. Opened the Bowmore 18 instead, and it has been really challenging! I need to write down notes on that one! Reminds me of a much improved and more complex version of Ardmore TC (Sweet Peat!). I like it better each time I try it.

        I do really like the Dalwhinnie 15, as I find it quite subtle, but very delicious, and actually somewhat complex, esp. with a dash of water. I use it often as the first dram of the evening, as I prefer it to any of the JW’s or most other blends, and it helps me to focus due to the less pronounced nose and palate. I’ve gone through 2 bottles in the last 6 months, so I must like it. I haven’t ever had regular Craggamore, so I can’t comment on it.

  6. David

    Tried it for the first time today. Quite impressed. Though I think I’d take an A’Bunadh 33 or 44 ahead of it.

    I think it should be noted, that the packaging is misleading…. it suggests that they use casks used to mature aged oloroso sherry. In fact they take new casks and “season” them with “aged sherry” for 2 years. I think it makes a difference…

  7. David

    We found this at a small store in Calgary for $73 all in last week. My brother in law bought up 8 of the 9 bottles for me and a friend in Ontario (just 2 for me).

    I checked the major online stores in uk. Only one had it, and they sell it for GBP 125!

    Now there’s a steal of a deal if I ever saw one…. I may have to go back for that last one “just because”…

  8. Robert

    Found a bottle I bought two years ago in the back of a cabinet under the bar sink. It’s had plenty of air time (75% full) and is as good as I remember. Again, lots of water to tame the burn and concentrated sherry, and you get a wonderful dram.

    1. David

      It’s a good one. Sad that Mac discontinued it. Glad I have a couple put away, though it is now forbidden fruit around here.

      I understand that it started out with an age statement. Too bad that had to change. Even with younger malt it was quite good.

      Hope that 105 doesn’t follow the same path…


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