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The Macallan 18 Year Old Fine Oak

This is a roundup. This is a low flying attack. Yes, we venture into the shadowy world of The Macallan. Buffed and polished to an inch of its existence and held in awe by influencers, collectors and investors. Except I don’t really give a – well you know – about all that. The contents are key and you rarely see a Macallan open nowadays.

Still, there are good memories attached to this bottle in terms of its opening which was down on the banks of the Spey on the Macallan estate. This was included as part of a tour with the Macallan ambassador, Nicola, and we had our fun that day as a group. This bottle was towards the end and a moment to reflect upon the festival, friendships, scenery and of course the whisky. You can read about the tour itself in the Macallan Estate Tour piece which is pre-Teletubbies but infested with other mannerisms. Ultimately it is a funny piece – or intended to be – around a brand that can be rather gentrified and boring.

Even now as I type this, I think about queues forming for the latest release that is due to be launched on the 14th August. No doubt the staff will have the option again to pick up a bottle and those auction vans will be in full throttle mode to rack up the miles and bottles for the next sale. I find it very sad and bewildering that a whisky has become a mere token of financial gain and greed. The efforts of those to distil, mature and deliver the whisky have been swept away. Macallan could just fill bottles with tea and no one would be the wiser. I’m sure it’d nose and taste fairly similar in the tumblers that many Macallan drinkers prefer.

Regardless of the score at the bottom of this review, the bottle itself has good memories. Friends and even sisters are made and potentially lost over a dram. I value the friendships of Andy, Dave and Mark that have gone beyond mere whisky and others we’ve met during our excursions. A word of advice. If you want a fun tour and see us in attendance. Hang around. Come over and talk to us and we’ll guarantee insights along with a touch of insanity. We’ll turn the most pedestrian Diageo tour into a flamboyant cavalcade of memories. Promise.

It is the friendships that make whisky worthwhile. I’m fortunate to have a great set of friends and supporters who rally when required. Perhaps not an army but an elite unit on call. Writing and saying what I do at times does provoke a reaction. I like that. I enjoy that. It’s all planned and orchestrated, believe me. What disappoints is when I’m accused of something I’ve never done. The whispers and the gossip always reach me and yet no one has the balls to come out and ask the question. Speculation is a disease that leads to misadventure and bitterness. We’re transparent here. I’m very straight and honest. Friends appreciate these qualities as if I say I’ll do something or be there, it’ll happen. Guaranteed.

There’s far too much nastiness within whisky and gossip. The American Instagram posse excel in these qualities and not opening bottles. Everything is great. Every Macallan is luxurious and fantastic in that etched tumbler with ice. Except for us Europeans, or British or maybe even Scots, we went through this disorder and disease a few years ago. I’d like to think we’ve moved on from the herd of bloggers that proclaimed everything as great. The herd has been culled. What remains are those built on strong foundations and transparency. Now I see great similarities between those days and Instagram. Give it a few years I tell myself, or just ignore it. Friends remain constant and to the gossip merchants, I’m still waiting for the question. Grow some and ask.

Here I could retell an interesting story of an independent bottler who sold Macallan once but at a more reasonable price for his clientele. This undercut other larger retailers who complained that the status quo of luxury pricing wasn’t being adhered to. The flexing of muscles put an end to the smaller shop’s distribution despite proving a popular item. You don’t want to upset the big boys after all. But you don’t want to hear that one nor do you want to hear the tale about how someone threatened to tell the brands falsehoods about me. Except, I pointed out that I don’t chase or kiss the ass of brands and neither does MALT. That rebuttal had the so-called influencer reeling. Someone or something that didn’t seek out brands and worship their every whim? How can this be? Those that value our honest transparent viewpoint seek us out and a good score here is seen as something worthwhile. This is probably why you’re returning to the site in greater numbers each month. We’re doing something right and different – except this should be the norm and not the exception.

Let us retreat to the banks of the Spey once more. This Macallan 18 year old sample comes from that period and has been kept sealed and intact ever since. Yes, I was the nominated driver again. For whatever reason, I felt now was an appropriate time to break the seal and think of friends and offer a viewpoint on the whisky itself. Matured in a combination of American and European oak, this features sherry and bourbon casks. Bottled at 43%, it seems to retail for circa £210 on Amazon nowadays although availability varies with retailers from a brief search. I’m sure I could talk about the packaging or refined bottled shape, but ultimately that’s just bollocks and there’s enough Macallan bollocks already out there.

The Macallan 18 Year Old Fine Oak – review

Colour: the golden honey standard

On the nose: a light airy arrival with golden syrup, pineapple and honey. Oddly, and maybe I’ve overdosed on the stuff but there’s a hint of Iru Bru here. Scotland’s official drink of choice. Sliced apples hint at Speyside alongside orange marmalade, chocolate and a Caramac bar. Time showcases sweet cinnamon, vanilla nougat, black liquorice and Brasso. I felt water wasn’t warranted and disrupts the balance overall.

In the mouth: more textured than I was expecting. A wee bite of alcohol on the fringes gives it life. A very subtle malt, very refined and engineered. Pleasant yes, honeyed vanilla with orange peel. A flourish of bitterness and then butterscotch, green apples and ginger root. Safe? Most definitely. Towards the finish walnuts, dried cork and almonds.

Conclusions

A fitting occasion for this bottle to be opened beside the Spey that gives so much life to the distilleries throughout the region. A pleasant sipper. Not a whisky to spark huge debate or intrigue. More of a smooth ride for passengers to watch the day go by and engage in conversation. Ultimately if that’s what you want from a whisky then the box is ticked.

The Fine Oak 18 year old doesn’t scream its age or try to seduce you. It’s slick and engineered as modern Macallan’s are these days. You cannot fault it, but will you elbow investors out of the way to buy a bottle? For me, no. I want the wackiness and rollercoaster ride that whisky can offer. The bampot whiskies and the oddities. However, if you were to offer me a dram and a chance of conversation, I wouldn’t say no.

Score: 6/10

My thanks to Nicola for being such a fun and engaging host at Macallan and the sample itself. There’s a commission link in this review but as always this does not exert any influence upon us.

CategoriesSingle Malt

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