I’ve said before that the 1824 series from Macallan, with names such as Amber, Sienna and Ruby, sounds a bit too consciously like a line-up at a table-dancing venue for my liking. Gone are the age statements that the previous generation of marketers told us was so important on a bottle. Instead we have exotic names, female names, perhaps to tempt male drinkers. Intentional marketing? Maybe, maybe not. It wouldn’t be the first time misogyny has reared its head in the world of whisky.
But let’s put that aside for now. Macallan is one of those brands that people either love or hate. It’s associated with the higher end of the market, with James Bond (more misogyny to be found in that plot-line) and ridiculous auction prices. A lot of their whisky is clearly not aimed at the likes of you and me – we’re the extras in a Charles Dickens novel, the paupers who doff our caps to those who can afford such things.
For us mere mortals, we have the likes of the 1824 series – and the ‘jewel’ in the crown (pun intended) is The Macallan Ruby. The whisky has spent a lot of time in the ‘finest sherry casks’ and, to Macallan’s credit, there is no colouring involved. I’m looking at you, Dalmore (even though I like you). A bottle of The Macallan Ruby will cost you about £125 and is bottled at 43% ABV.
Colour: ruby! Well almost. Certainly a rich mahogany with a reddish tint. On the nose: a pretty feisty nose, which was surprising. These are deep and rich flavours, but which are reluctant to jump out of the glass at first. We’re talking jams and marmalade, rum, hint of plums, but real sugary and stewed fruit. Even a touch of warm real ale or stout in the distance.
In the mouth: that’s actually really lovely. Such a velvety texture, even though it’s not as thick as I would personally like. A lot of the nose matches the mouth perfectly – crab apple jelly, a spot of ginger, but coming to the fore are dates and figs. It’s all mixed up in the sort of filling you get in mince pies. There’s a menthol freshness, a few gentle spices – nothing in your face. What might have been dryness instead falls away to blackberries and all those lovely late summer fruits. At the back of my mind I keep thinking you could get some of this with a Glenfarclas at half the price and yet, and yet… I really like this.
Again, this is a mood whisky I think. A refined summer event: nice meal, good fruit pudding. Smartly dressed people milling about endless gardens; a smattering of laughter; catching the first touches of autumn in the evening air. If Jay Gatsby was British he’d be drinking this on tap.