So finally, the Macallan 1824 series has arrived at retail. Excuse me if the excitement is barely noticeable amongst UK whisky drinkers. I was able to taste 2 of these releases late last year and was not impressed. Somehow I doubt much has changed.
There is a trend towards no age statement whisky which like all things in life has its plus and minus points. Yes, need we not forget that there have been some fine no age statement whiskies and you tend to see these as annual one-off releases – a trend that has been well executed by Ardbeg for instance. Yet now we’re been asked to pay anything from £44 to £120 for a bottle from this new Macallan range. For some that’s a punt into the wilderness and a leap of faith.
As a blue chip distillery price isn’t much of a consideration for many fans of a Macallan, which constantly acknowledges its luxury aspirations. Such is demand that we’re now seeing a shortage of aged stock and the huge producers scrambling to obtain planning permission for new distilleries. A week in Scotland doesn’t seem to go by without another distillery being announced. For Macallan and many others how do you fill that obvious gap? Well, you move away from age statement and instead release a range like the one above.
I dubbed this last year as the apple generation whisky being based on colour rather than any other characteristic. I can appreciate why this trend is being championed by some quarters and having read the Whisky Magazine lately we’re almost being set up for the switch.
Needless to say a whisky rests on the dram itself. On the 2 tastings I’ve had these are not what the Macallan represents in my warped mind. What I would like to know is the minimum age of these bottles. If you are asking me to fork out up to £120 then as a consumer and an educated whisky drinker, then please inform me as to what I am purchasing. All the fancy tasting notes and packaging in the world won’t prevent a poor whisky from being just that.
Looking ahead it will be interesting to see how this range performs at retail. Already some stockists are suggesting ‘limited edition’ and to purchase while you can. I’m not so sure that is the case as many of us expect more from a Macallan. However this trend is what makes the forthcoming Glenlivet Alpha all the more interesting. This is a truly limited release, minus any tasting notes or age statement. The distillery are (minus the marketing gimmick) challenging the whisky drinker. At least after a few weeks they’ll reveal all the details while the above trio remain shrouded in mystery.