Mention Macallan to anyone nowadays and their reaction will be somewhat predictable. Yes, there’s time for Tubby bye-bye! Time for Tubby bye-bye! Then, the growing realisation – tinged with sadness – that the brand of Macallan is out of reach to the ordinary punter. It’s turned on its heels and ran off in pursuit of the wealthy and international jet set. Yes, up and over those hills with the slightly decayed grass panels.
All true to a certain extent and its easy to bash Macallan currently – very easy in fact and quite fashionable to do so. Beneath the bling and deranged pricing, there remains the actual whisky itself. The glass vessels are overlooked partially because of the epic nature of Macallan packaging; huge parcels of vulgar trophy promise that eventually reveal a 35cl bottle in some cases. From a personal standpoint, it’s a rare event that I actually purchase a bottle of Macallan and break the seal. The 18 year old always remains a solid classic although priced at £220 and rising, it’s rarely seen with the seal broken. When someone has made that sacrifice then memories are revived of what Macallan can offer.
There have been some bum steers from Macallan in recent times – who can forget the much criticised 1824 series? An attempt to bring an iPad colour scheme to the whisky generation. The fact this much-maligned trio lasted 5 years is a testament to the allure of the Macallan brand before it was swept away by a bottle redesign. The perfect opportunity to brush aside and under the carpet the mistakes of the past. Good riddance.
Still, there have been good moments such as the Edition series which we’ve enjoyed here at Malt. We are fans of the original version and generally subsequent editions have been relatively good and reasonably well priced. A winning combination. The minus point being availability as even now these releases are sought by investors and flippers – the spawn of Satan. Yes, its a No Age Statement release but we’re not dismissing such a whisky because it lacks a figure beneath the camouflage of a story or marketing. As for purchasing and opening Macallan at the end of the day isn’t that what it’s for?
Except, in reality, Macallan isn’t about the opening and sharing of whisky. Sure those friendly brand ambassadors will tell you otherwise but the real money is to be made from bottles as an ornament or trophy. A desirable status symbol to aspire to as you cower at the corner of a bar, armed with a tumbler filled with big cubes of ice. How you drink your whisky is down to you and no one should tell you how to hold whatever glass you choose or even from refraining from perfume (or cologne) or even sex prior to tasting and nosing a whisky. This is ridiculous and there is a degree of snobbery around whisky. Do what you want with your purchase. Look at those adverts with tumblers and gauge who the advertisement is aimed towards – more than likely, not you or I if you’re visiting Malt. However, if you’re new here please take a look around and pour yourself a dram whilst doing so.
The future is so bright for Macallan that I’ve gotta wear shades. Probably the funky pink ones from the Captain EO 1980’s show to be precise. The new theme park will be able to produce around 15 million litres once all the kinks have been ironed out. That’s a huge boost on the previous production levels that have fed the army of warehouses situated behind the distillery. The future means more Macallan and possibly more variations. Already able to support various age statements in their core range we’ll be seeing a great deal more releases in the coming years – hopefully being opened and not spread out against a Lamborghini, Rolex or some other vulgar backdrop. Here’s to rediscovering Macallan in the near future as a whisky drinker…
Now to the whisky at hand and thanks to the forever generous Jenga champion Noortje. She’s already reviewed this release herself over at WhiskyLifeStyle. I think generally we’re on the same wavelength when it comes to whiskies but there’s always a first time to disagree. This Macallan Cask Strength was an American release before being deleted several years ago. Details are sketchy, but we do know a robust strength of 60.1% ABV promises a bit more brute force than what we normally associate with today’s Macallan’s. Time to dig in them…
Macallan Cask Strength – review
Colour: treacle, or molasses if you’re not British.
On the nose: very forceful and uncouth with more the treacle alongside an elastic band element. It’s quite harsh actually, certainly a sherry beast upon nosing for those that enjoy this style of whisky. Dark chocolate, peppered steak, and a rum-soaked element. Hard to pin down another characteristic but that smell of a new strip of sandpaper and memories of my gran’s coal bunker. Fetch me the water. Ok, now its more blood orange and grapefruit – this whisky can take a trough of water in all honesty. Shining through is honey and a sugary sweetness matched with the caress of oak spices. A perfect example of the impact of water. This whisky has been transformed from a rugged beast into something more refined.
In the mouth: a touch of sweetness soon evaporates as the harshness of the wood takes a firm grip. Well, it’s certainly warming. Bitter dark chocolate, a faded cinnamon stick and blackberry jam. More of an ordeal than a pleasure. Some liquorice, soot and jelly cubes. Defo needs water more than my garden currently. Caramel, barley sweets and a decent finish that’s slightly drying.
A real Jekyll and Hyde of a whisky this one. Perfect for showcasing what water can do and also a rather aggressive sherry cask maturation. Is this reminiscent of older styles of Macallan? Not really from what I’ve experienced as its too in-yer-face and lacks those subtle layers and rustiness that I find so pleasing. In saying that though it’s an interesting whisky. One that certainly needs time and experimentation with water.
In essence, this is the Macallan Dark if we take an oar out of the Viking longship that is Highland Park. Showcasing the raw power of the distillery without any Master Blender interference. Interesting and a welcome experience, but I’d leave this one to the Macallan collectors out there.