Macallan Part 1… From The Sherry Oak Expressions


Many days back (yes…I am occasionally that slow getting these pieces posted) a good mate of mine arranged a very…errr…sprawling Macallan tasting for me.  So sprawling in fact, that by dram number eleventy-three my nostrils were closing, I was seeing two of everything and all my s‘s had turned into sh‘s.  Of course, you gotta wonder what good your tasting notes are by the time you reach this point of hyper-sobriety, so in the spirit of maintaining some sort of integrity here, I insisted on revisiting a few of these that we tasted later in the evening.

As I began typing up my tasting notes I realized that the feature had grown to such obviously unwieldy proportions that I would have to split it into pieces, and showcase the malts in a more logical fashion.  This also allowed me to visit a couple extra for the sake of inclusion.

Part one will focus on the Sherry Oak range.  Part two, the Fine Oak series.  Part three, a few of the Macallan one-offs and oddballs.  (And to honest…I am debating a Part four…we’ll see).  I’ll preface each with my tasting notes for The Macallan New Make spirit simply as a point of reference to highlight the journey from birth to bottle.

In this first segment…some of the malts that helped define The Macallan reputation.  (Or more accurately, I’ll tackle the contemporary descendants of the whiskies that made The Macallan a legend.)  Sherry has long been the distillery’s hallmark, so let’s start there…


Macallan New Make

Notes:  63% abv.  Crystal clear.

Nose:  Slight nuttiness.  Malty.  Fresh bitter fruit.  Rubbery acetone.  Metallic note somewhere in there.  Oh yeah…and some cereals.

Palate:  Fire water.  With a bit o’ citrus.  Estery.  Please put this waxy young thing into the rock tumbler (ahem…a fine sherry bucket) and knock those edges off.

Thoughts:  Unrecognizable as a Macallan really.  Shows you what the distillery’s wood policy really means.  Cool as hell to see this as a new make.

Bottle Shots 2 021

Macallan 12 Sherry Oak (Recent Edition)

Notes:  40% abv.

Nose:  Mild mik chocolate.  Nutmeg and almond.  Orange.  Pinecone (NOT pine).  Touch of maltiness (hard to catch until moving the glass away).  Lightly floral.  Fudge.  A little ‘toastier’ than earlier editions.  Dark caramel.  Obviously the sherry is large and in charge at this age.

Palate:  Oaky delivery.  Rich in dark red fruits and the faintest tendril of smoke.  Some deep strong chocolate too.

Thoughts:  Charming enough, but not the giant that Macallan delivers in more aged incarnations.


Macallan 12 Sherry Oak (Older Edition)

Notes:  40% abv.

Nose:  Creamier than more recent editions.  Toffee.  Seems to be some malts older than 12 years in this one.  Fruits are more vibrant than in newer bottlings.  Warm cinnamon buns.

Palate:  Not quite up to the soft nose.  Bread dough.

Thoughts:  Substantially different from the latest incarnations, though I know not from whence this has come.  Packaging is different though.  I think there may be a few older casks vatted in here.  Smooth and drinkable.


Macallan 18 Sherry Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Rich and chewy sherry.  Soft and refined.  Mild nutmeg and cream.  Muted cherry.  Toffee.  Heather.  Warm leather.  European bread.  Mint.  Nearly faultless.

Palate:  Mildest of dried fruit and rumballs.  Caramel.  Warm melted chocolate and orange.  Oak.  Lasts none too long, but a beautiful top note and denouement.  Man…what exceptional balance.

Thoughts:  Wow…what harmony!  A very young 18…in a good way.  Nose here is bloody brilliant.


Macallan 18 Sherry Oak (1981)

Notes: 43% abv.

Nose:  Cinnamon and nutmeg.  Cherry, orange and citrus.  Tobacco.  Old cask notes that suggets there is whisky in here older than 18 years.  A touch of licorice and wax.  Borders on a touch of the trpoical.  Polish.

Palate:  Beautiful cherry and orange rind delivery.  Splashy and juicy arrival.  Wow.  Fruits and maturity.  Moves into lovely wood tones.

Thoughts:  Full sunrise to sunset development.  Lovely all the way through.  If only current exressions were this good.


Macallan 25 Sherry Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Rich, oiled leather.  Heavy…so heavy. Christmas cake.  Cinnamon (almost like buttery cinnamon spread). Orange.  Maraschino cherry.  Caramel fudge.  Dark chili chocolate.

Palate:  Oily and rubbery.  Dusty dried fruits.  Great maturity meets fun vibrancy.

Thoughts:  I expected a tannic drying finish, and couldn’t have been more wrong.  Great drink.  Exceptional, really.

064 (2)

Macallan 30 Sherry Oak

Notes:  43% abv.

Nose:  Waxy.  Sherry ebbs into tarry mature notes.  Leather.  Deep-running spices.  Dried apple.  Crushed walnut.

Palate:  Apple skins and winter spice.  Wax and tar.  Long and bitters out slightly…in a pleasant way.

Thoughts:  Sexy.  Brooding and deep.  This…this is what I imagine when I think of the storied reputation Macallan has built itself.  I could linger over this for hours before even sipping.  This is a dram to adore and worship.


Macallan Cask Strength

Notes:  59.3% abv.  Bottled for Canada.

Nose:  Heavy sherry and all that usually accompanies.  Demerara sweetness. Christmas pudding.  Fruit cake with heavy marzipan frosting.  Kirsch and dark chocolate.  Well-oiled baseball mitt.

Palate:  Enormous arrival.  Thick toffee.  Sherry wollop.  Fruit skins and mouthwatering juiciness.

Thoughts:  I love this.  The only thing comparable is an Aberlour a’bunadh, which is one of my favorites.  At this point it’s a toss up which I prefer more.


– Notes:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt

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