Monday, August 17, 2009
The Macallan 18 yr old Sherry version - Single Malt Scotch Review
The Macallan Distillery is located in the Speyside region of Scotland. Established in the 19th century, needless to say, this is another distiller with a long track record and tradition of producing fine single malt scotch.This distillery is well known for producing a scotch which is aged in Spanisk oak casks that had previously held sherry for a couple of years. As I mentioned in my review of the 12 year old, the sherry soaked Spanish wood imparts its flavor into the Macallan spirit that is aged in these casks for many years. The result is a very sherried scotch. If you do not drink sherry and therefore unsure what is meant by this term (sherry), try this whisky and you will come face to face with the flavor of sherry as found in whisky.The Macallan Distillery has what it calls Sherry Oak Series which is comprised of several different scotches that differ in terms of aging. They are: 7, 10, 12, 18, 25, & 30 years old. And guess what? The price adjusts upwards as they progress in age. It will come as no surprise that the quality is commensurate with age too.
The Macallan 18yr. old is not intended for barbecues or throwing darts with the guys out in the garage. This is a single malt that should be carefully sampled in the quiet of one's home when all the distractions of life are at bay. Maybe by the fireplace (if you've got one), on a cold winter's night, watching the snowfall cloud the street lights. Having set up the scene, lets move to the actual serving.
In a whisky glass or a tumbler pour a small amount and swirl. This is drinking "neat" or "straight up" as others might put it. If your preference is to add water then I recommend distilled water, but only a drop or two. This will open up some flavours and aromas. I would recommend against adding ice. Ice dilutes the scotch and a lot of its complexity and the many nuances of flavours available. If you are a casual drinker of scotch and always add lots of ice or even a cube, there are a lot of cheaper single malts and blends that will meet your requirements. To add ice to this scotch is an expensive proposition because within ten minutes you will have diluted it such that its really distored in terms of what you will taste. If you like the watered down taste, again choose something cheaper like "Famous Grouse", the #1 selling scotch blend in Scotland. By the way, its key ingredients are the Macallan and Highland Park. Add all the ice of water you want to a tumbler of "Famous Grouse" as it only costs around $20 a bottle.
Sherry and brandy. A fine bouquet that tells you a treat awaits. Nosing this can go on for quite a while. You will not detect much if any peat scents wafting upward.
Take a little sip and hold it in your mouth for a second. You will note thick, rich sun beams of sherry, concentrated sweet berries like a big Napa cabernet sauvignon (think Caymus or Cakebread) building towards a crescendo of oak. This is a scotch of great complexity, body and above all, concentration of dark fruit flavors.
The 'finish' is a term referring to how long the flavor lingers and how it concludes before leaving the palate entirely. In this case, the Macallan 18yr old provides the dry yet sweet taste of oak, ginger and smoke lingering long after you have swallowed that tiny sip. The finish is excellent.
This is a high quality single malt scotch. If you are familiar with the 12 year old Macallan, then you can think of the 18yr old as simply having all the attributes the 12 yr old lacks. The 12 has the flavour of sherry and smoke but lacks the sophistication, refinement and dark berry fruit. The 18 delivers what the palate of the 12 yr old promises but can't come good for. If I were to sum up the 18 in a word, it would be "concentration." Concentration of sherry/smoke and berry flavours in an intriguing fashion.
© Jason Debly, 2009-2011. All rights reserved.