Category Archives: Macallan

Macallan 18 y.o. Review

Macallan 18 y.o.

43% abv

Score:  91/100


Macallan 18.  As revered and maligned as the monarchy.  Weighing in on this one is a somewhat tricky affair that relies on suspending preconceptions and allowing the senses to decide.

The contentious point with Macallan is always price.  Sherry casks are, of course, much more expensive than bourbon casks, but still many question whether what they get in their glass with Macallan is worth so much more than, say Glenfarclas or GlenDronach.

I have my own opinions here, somewhat tempered from what they initially were, but I’ll keep those cards close to my chest and again…allow the drink to work its charm on the nose and palate, bias aside (as much as anyone can).

In all honesty though, this is as near to faultless on the nose as you can get.  Beautifully rich and elegant.  The sherry is vibrant and warm, chewy and very, very soft.  A little bit of chocolate and grape meet fresh cherry and orange.  There’s a dusting of nutmeg and wood spice over creamy toffee.  A hint of heather.  This is a malt to savour over refined vices, like good old novels and great cigars.

The palate brings the mildest of dried fruit flavors, but mouthwatering sweetness as well.  Sweet caramel and warm melted chocolate follow, bringing notes of quality oak.  The finish lasts none too long, but boasts a beautiful top note and denouement.  Exceptional.

It took me a while to fully come ’round to this one, but I’m won over.  Great dram from the royalty of Scotch whisky.

An older edition I’ve tried (1981) is even better than this.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Macallan Fine Oak 10 y.o. Review

Macallan Fine Oak 10 y.o.

40% abv

Score:  80/100


Yawn.  Underwhelmed.  Where is the Macallan of fame and repute that so made the eyes of Michael Jackson (ahem…not that MJ) light up?  Sadly…not here.

This is not a bad whisky by any stretch of the imagination.  It is simply nothing special, and absolutely does not stand up to the Macallan name.  There is a vaccuum of character.  Nothing really ‘off’ here…just don’t expect to be ‘wowed’.

Very Speyside in character (excepting the lack of a nice deep rich sherry wood which may have ratcheted this up a notch or two), with dusty oak and red fruits leading the barley train.  Found this one to be a little dry and figgy as well.  Also on the nose:  a hint of orange…some honeyed woods…cereal…and in all honesty, rather sharp and thin.  Macallan promises so much more.

This pale young’un carries that thinness over to the palate as well, though arrives with a bit more bite than I would have expected.   Not a lot of subtlety.  Youthful and kicking.  The high notes from the citrus here are pleasant however.  It mellows rapidly in the glass and allows the ‘woody’ profile to bully its way to the forefront.  Indeed this seems quite young.  The finish, mostly oak notes, is relatively short.

Overall it comes across as a little too simple, underdeveloped and underpowered for me, but charm finally comes with the balance after 15 or 20 minutes in the glass.

As I said…not bad.


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

Would You Rather Spend The Night With A Bunch Of 18 Year Olds Or One 32 Year old?

Awkward is having your wife catch you with a sassy 18 year old.  Domestic nuclear winter is having her come home and find you messing around with nine 18 year olds at the same time.  Not that anyone would want to be in that situation.  Errr…ummm…

Ok, ok…listen up, boys.  They may be pretty…they may smell good…they may taste good…and they may not even be ‘out of your league’…but no 18 year old will ever give you what a stunning 32 year old can.  I promise.

Though usually I’d give you a few paragraphs of preamble before jumping in to the nitty gritty, this time let’s leave it up to the imagination…

Let me tell you a little about how this one goes.  First there was a fair-haired lass from Speyside…


Glenfiddich 18

43% abv

Nose:  Heather and gooey honey.  Big ol’ baskets of fruit and armfuls of flowers.  Creamy vanilla ice cream, drizzled in creme caramel.  Red apple.  Berries in cream.  Pancakes and syrup.  Oaky, but young and vibrant for 18 years.

Palate:  Smooth and unchallengingly sweet.  Creamy vanillins dance with dried fruit and crunchy apple.  Lovely really.  Almost refreshing.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She’s familiar and you can’t help but sneak a second peek.  Cute and red-apple-rosy-cheeked.  Probably dated the quarterback.  Do you have a chance?  Maybe.  Is she worth it?  Hmmmm…time will tell.


GlenDronach 18

46% abv 

Nose:  Heavy sherry, rich and sweet…could only be Oloroso.  Cherry and cocoa.  Cinnamon and gingerbread.  Vanilla.  Slight yeastiness.  Fruitcake, mild cigar leaf and deep plumminess.

Palate:  Slight bitterness, almost tannic.  Heavy raisin bread and rummy fruitcake.  Drying.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Bubbly and fresh, but…there’s a little more of a dark side here.  This is not vanilla sex.  This is jeans and cardigans by day…handcuffs by night.  There’s a sensibility and maturity here that tells you no one will ever know about this dark side but you.



Macallan 18

43% abv

Nose:  Rich and chewy sherry…but very soft.  Nutmeg and cream.  Muted cherry.  Toffee.  Heather.  Nearly faultless nose.

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

Thoughts & Impressions:  This one is a princess.  She’s not in your bed ‘cause she wants to be.  She’s there ‘cause she’s slumming and looking for an experience.  Don’t get too settled…don’t fall in love.  You can’t afford the upkeep on this one.


Highland Park 18

43% abv

Nose:  Creamy honey and rich peat smoke.  Dusty, spicy vanilla.  Mild cigar.  Rich sweet butter.  A bouquet of soft fruit and barely seen floral notes.  Hint of dill.

Palate:  The delivery is unbelievably smooth and calculated. Rich wood smoke teases, then mellows out with sweet caramel notes

Thoughts & Impressions:  Messy-haired and ready for a pillow fight.  She’s not leaving till sun-up.  And that’s not ‘cause she wants to sleep.



Bunnahabhain 18

46.3% abv 

Nose:  Smoke and sherry.  Ashy peat.  Pear and sweet banana cream.  Some sort of orchard fruit.  Honey and vanilla.  Stunning interplay at work here.

Palate:  Gooey, chewy malt full of smoke.  Sherried honey oak and a complex tapestry of spritely fruits.   This is maturity and youthful zest in perfect harmony.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Just a down-home small town girl that everyone underestimates.  The thing is…she’s bloody brilliant at everything she does and no one who meets her can resist her.  This is a keeper, if only you were looking to settle down.


Talisker 18

45.8% abv 

Nose:  Yeah, baby…there’s the Talisker pepper!  Salt.  A peaty backbone.  Cinnamon and ginger.  Some kinda soft orange fruit.  Toblerone.  Warm leather.  An absolute classic on the nose alone.

Palate:  Pepper.  Surprisingly sweet and fruity.  Swirling ribbons of smoke.  Peat.  Faint notes of old sherry.  Such a phenomenal linger smoked green apple.

Thoughts & Impressions:  Yow!  She’s a spicy one.  Blonde and bold.  Fiery-tempered.  Full of personality.  Highly possible she’s also the love of your life.



Longrow 18

46% abv

Nose:  Prickly and peppery.  Hint o’ mint maybe.  Smoke and caramel.  Licorice.  Some salt and thick cream over blueberries.  Wee bit o’ peat, but not near what I’d generally expect from a Longrow.

Palate:  There’s the peat I expected on the nose.  Comes through with some spiced apples and smoke.  Lindt chocolate with chili.  Long, long finish.

Thoughts & Impressions:  The dark-haired younger sister of your girlfriend.  Sassier and miles more charming.  No, you’re not wrong…she is trying to seduce you.


Caol Ila 18

43% abv 

Nose:  Slightly ‘green’.  Honeydew melon.  Aloe.  Mild citrus.  Fruits are starting to come forward.  Salt.  Very light smoke.

Palate:  A little more smoke than on the nose.  Great green fruit delivery.  Lovely and uplifting.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She comes from the biggest house on the street.  Her parents have lots of money and drive brilliant cars. She’s the one everyone wants but are afraid to approach.  Shame, really.  She’s also a sweetheart, and easy to love.



Laphroaig 18

48% abv 

Nose:  Orange and chocolate.  Cedar.  Fruity.  Heavy vanilla and black licorice flavored jujubes.  Pear drops.  Sambuca and fruit bowl with dominant bananas.

Palate:  Poached and caramelized white fruits.  Floral smoke.  Some dark chocolate and Werther’s Originals.  Drying with tobacco and clean smoke.

Thoughts & Impressions:  This is a mysterious one.  Redolent of exotic and foreign perfumes.  Dark and alluring.  This is the Dashiel Hammett heroine seen through a haze in a dark and smoky bar.  You love her.  But can you handle her?




After a romp like that I promise you you’ll still be left wondering ‘what if?’  And further, that empty feeling won’t be sated until you finally spend a little time with the one that should have had your attention all along…


Springbank 32

46% abv

Nose:  Smoke and wax.  Coconut milk and soft pineapple juice.  Marmalade.  Vanilla and oak.  Some tame spices.  Becomes fruitier and fruitier over time.

Palate:  There’s the maturity.  Waxy…smoky and oaky.  Dried fruit…apricot maybe.  Creosote.  Gorgeous, gorgeous oak.

Thoughts & Impressions:  She’s what you’ve waited for.  Vibrant and sweet.  The older she gets, the more you love her.  Age has taken all of her best and given it just a little more brilliance by imparting a mature knowing.


barry's place pics 014

How can you possibly top her?  Simple…you can’t.  I’ll take my beautiful 32 year old over any 18 year old…any day.

Happy birthday, babe.  Love you.  Always have.


– Tasting notes and write-up:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt (except Caol Ila, courtesy of Pat)

Macallan 12 y.o. Sherry Oak Review

Macallan 12 y.o. Sherry Oak

40% abv

Score:  86.5/100


Admittedly I am a little hard on Macallan.  One of the most revered distilleries in Scotland, with one of the most storied reputations, and…one of the highest price points.  These factors make it impossible not to expect a damn good whisky from Speyside’s iconic Macallan.  Oh yeah…and it struts about under the title of “THE Macallan”.

I must say first and foremost that this is a great nosing whisky.  If you need something to practice scent dissection with, this is your dram.  Chock full of bold and assertive notes, none of which is buried so deep that peeling them out becomes a chore.

A wallop of heavy-handed sherry right out front.  Mild milk chocolate with orange, nutmeg and almond (or marzipan).  Slightly floral and fudgy.  Dark caramel with a wee sour green apple tang.  Some vanilla, a little smokiness, some woods and a bit of distant maltiness.  With this many individual strands it creates quite an interesting pastiche in the end, but somehow it works.

This arrival is large, oaky and tannic.  Big sherry and dark red fruits.  Across-the-room smoke and a fairly unremarkable ebb and fade.  Somewhat middle-of-the-road in terms of viscosity, but that suits this whisky, as it isn’t necessary here to douse the taste buds to pick out the strong flavors.  Not uncharming though, in its own way.

Not a bad drink, this one simply lacks the charisma I’d expect a Macallan to possess.  An early evening sipper with a Steinbeck novel in hand.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

-Photo:  Curt