The Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak

Previously I reviewed the Macallan Select Oak, which I enjoyed – so, continuing my mini-exporation of this Macallan range, I cracked open a Macallan 15 Year Old Fine Oak.

Here the whisky has been matured in a combination of casks: Spanish oak ‘seasoned with sherry’; American oak that has have been ‘seasoned with sherry’; and American oak that has been ‘seasoned with bourbon’. This complex cask seasoning and combination is meant to lend some rather fascinating flavours to the whisky. It’s been a staple of the Macallan range for some years now, but is no longer as widely available as it once was. Bottles that were initially selling below £50 are now going for around £70 at the cheapest. A bit of google-fu might see you get better than that. But is it worth it?

Colour: we’re in cheap apple juice territory here. On the nose: gentle. Ever so gentle at first. The aromas take a little time to seep in, but once they do you’re rewarded with some sweet creaminess. Almost floral perfume. Old ladies (of the Marks & Spencer variety). Stewed autumn fruits.

In the mouth: subtle is the order of the day here. Like the nose, this doesn’t blast you with flavours. A velvety texture washes over your tongue bringing gentle layers of sweet and sour notes – which is surprising, as I was expecting more sugar than nuttiness. Crème brûlée. Unsalted butter. Stewed autumn fruits again. Bitter lemons. Sulphur? Then the spices come through, but numbed somewhat.

Extraordinarily long finish, the gift that keeps on giving. But I remain bamboozled. It’s not often that happens with a whisky. There’s much to admire here, but I can’t quite commit to loving it. Certainly worth sampling should you get the chance.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview. Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

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