Category Archives: Macallan

Macallan ‘Twenties’

Bought: Heathrow Airport, 2004/05

Ratings:
67/100 – Whisky Bible 2006
83.88/100 – Whiskybase (average from 54 member votes)
78/100 – Malt Maniacs (average from 9 maniac votes)

Status: Long since discontinued

I bought this bottle of Macallan ‘Twenties’ for my father’s 81st or 82nd birthday in 2004 or 2005. I can’t remember the exact year mostly because he’s had so many birthdays! He has his 94th this year but I wont be buying him any more whisky. Not long after I got him this Macallan he confessed that he didn’t really like whisky. Nobody had realised. He got at least 5 bottles for his 80th birthday. So the good news has been that my brother and I got to try this Macallan, so every cloud has a silver lining!

Macallan began introducing the Macallan ‘Decades’ series in 2001 and in 2004 they added this version of the ‘Twenties’ to represent the flavour of Macallan in the 1920s. Not that my father was drinking Macallan when he was born in 1923. As a Scottish baby they don’t start you on whisky until you’re at least 5. Ultimately there were 4 bottles in the series representing the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Although I quite like this Macallan, according to Jim Murray in his Whisky Bible of 2006 the ‘Twenties’ was his least favourite decade. 67/100 classifies it as “very unimpressive indeed” and Mr Murray says “Does absolutely nothing for me at all. Totally off-key, no finish. Nothing roaring about this one.” He scores the 1930s 91/100, the 1940s gets 81/100 and 1950s does best with 92/100.

The Malt Maniacs are a bit more complimentary with a reasonable mark of 78/100 but nearly 84/100 on Whiskybase from 54 votes is a very good score. Nevertheless comments are very up and down ranging from “a perfect recreation from the 1920s” to “not very good”. Expert sipper and reviewer Mark Dermul who scores the ‘Twenties’ 77/100 says “I am not really impressed. Too dry and a tad too sour to my taste.” And leaves the following tasting notes:

Nose: The sherry is immediately present on the nose. Apricots, oranges, pineapple, blackberries. Quite dry, to be honest. A bit of chocolate. Mild smokiness. Soft woodspice.
Taste: The attack is soft and gently spiced. Again all sweet sherry. The fruit is now of the dried variety. Chocolate returns. Does turn a bit sour, now.
Finish: The finish is soft and warm with a hint of nuts.

Macallan 15-year-old ‘Fine Oak’

Bought: Online Whisky Auction, 9th January 2017

Ratings:
79.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2017
84.12/100 – Whiskybase (average from 173 member votes)

When Macallan discontinued the 10yo, 12yo and 15yo age statements in 2013 it was the 15yo that vanished from the UK shops first (High Street and online). As old stock of the 10yo and 12yo dribbled back onto the market the 15yo has remained elusive, although I believe it’s been easier to obtain in the US and Canada. Thankfully bottles regularly appear in online auctions, which is where I purchased mine. But was it worth it as a drinking dram?

Jim Murray, author of the whisky bible, wasn’t overly impressed with this final version of the 15yo ‘Fine Oak’. In 2009 he scored the previous version 94/100 but in 2012 he added my new bottling with a score of 79.5/100, which classifies it as “average and usually pleasant though sometimes flawed”. He says, “As the stock of the Fine Oak 12 rises, so its 15yo brother, once one of my Favourite drams, falls. Plenty to enjoy, but a few sulphur stains remove the gloss.”

Although 84/100 on Whiskybase is a good score it seems that a lot of Macallan fans are left feeling disappointed with the 15yo Fine Oak. Comments include “appealing, intensely sweet with good infusion of multiple oaks, complex and alluring”, “pretty drinkable and also enjoyable but not really great either”, “I expected much more for this Macallan, so felt disappointed” and “too much wood influence? Not a brilliant whisky for that price.”

As the 15yo Fine Oak drifts into whisky history you feel it will always have its fans, such is the appeal of The Macallan but perhaps this wasn’t their finest hour. It’s worth noting that none of the comments on Whiskybase mention ‘sulphur’ and the previous version of the Fine Oak scores less with 83.25/100 (from 58 votes), which Jim Murray gives 94/100. So make of that what you will.

Here’s ‘Whisky in the 6’ from Canada with their review of the 15yo Fine Oak on YouTube (January 2016):

Macallan 18-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’ 2016

Bought: Amazon, 14th November 2016

Ratings:
89/100 – Whiskybase (average from 30 member votes)
5/5 – Master of Malt (from 4 reviews)

If you want to get into whisky as an investment you can’t go far wrong with the Macallan 18yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (for now). If anyone criticises you with the tiresome adage “but whisky should be drunk!” slap them hard across the face and remind them that alcohol is a poison. But seriously, it’s none of their business what you spend your money on or how you treat your whisky. Those critics are usually hypocrites because they’ll be only too delighted to buy rare, vintage whisky at auction that would have been drunk long ago were it not for the collectors and investors. I bought my first Macallan 18yo in the summer of 2015 and only 18 months later it was consistently getting £100 more at auction. It’s liquid gold I tell thee!

But what is the Macallan 18yo like to drink? As I mentioned for the 1995 vintage, this is the Rolls Royce of whisky with a deep, smooth texture and heated seats. It’s very rare that you hear a bad word about the Macallan 18yo and year after year the quality is kept high. 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score and the equal of any previous vintage. Comments on Master of Malt include “perfect”, “the Macallan 18 is still one of my all time favourites”, “fantastic” and “a hefty price tag, but for a special occasion it’s worth it!”

Here are the tasting notes from Master of Malt:
Nose: Classic dried fruit, crème de cacao and crème anglaise with ginger and oak.
Palate: Winter spice, sultanas, toffee apple, rich oak and mixed peels.
Finish: Oak shavings, raisins and caramel.

If you would like to buy the Macallan 18yo and are happy to play a waiting game I’d recommend finding it on Amazon, adding it to your wishlist and waiting until the price drops to sub £150 (if you’re in the UK). I believe it had one mad moment when it hit £125 last year after dropping from the heady heights of its typical RRP of £200.

macallan-18yo-2016-70cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Double Cask’

Bought: Whisky Exchange, 28th September 2016

Ratings:
81.5/100 – Whiskybase (average from 27 member votes)

My copy of the Whisky Bible 2017 arrived today but no mention of the Macallan 12yo ‘Double Cask’ because it’s too new. Looks like we’ll have to wait another year to find out what Jim Murray thinks of it. But for now the comments online are very favourable. Scoring 81.5/100 on Whiskybase is good and an identical score to the 12yo ‘Fine Oak’ but 3 points less than the 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’.

On the box Macallan have written, “matured exclusively in the perfect balance of sherry seasoned American and European oak casks” and include the tasting notes:

Aroma: Creamy butterscotch with a hint of toffee apple, candied orange, vanilla custard and newly felled oak.
Palate: Delicious honeyed, wood spices and citrus, balanced with raisins and caramel
Finish: Oak lingers, warm, sweet and drying.

Time for Whisky’ rate the Macallan 12yo ‘Double Cask’ 91/100 and say “an enjoyable and very sippable dram – one that perfectly fills the gap between the 12yo Sherry and Fine oak bottlings.”

Scotch Malt Whisky’ rate it 92/100 and comment, “well balanced deliciously sherried, mature Macallan that still has touches of the Macallan Fine oak but is still sure to put a smile on the faces of the fans of sherried Macallan.”

Here are Scotch Test Dummies with their review of the Macallan 12yo ‘Double Cask’ comparing it against the 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’ (September 2016):

macallan-12yo-double-oak-70cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Fine Oak’ Ernie Button Box

Bought: Macallan Online Shop, 23rd March 2016

Ratings:
95.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2016
88/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)

In March 2016 I found out online that Macallan were releasing 5,000 bottles of 12yo Fine Oak with the first 1,500 coming in a limited edition Ernie Button box (professional photographer). It was restricted to the UK and at £55 and free postage it seemed reasonable for a discontinued 12yo. I registered my interest and was one of the lucky 1,500 to get the special box. I can’t wait to taste it! The whisky that is, not the box. Have I really become a cardboard collector? It’s worrying times.

Although the box might be unusual the whisky is the standard 12yo Fine Oak. I already have a bottle but, since Jim Murray regards it so highly, I got this latest as an investment so I can drink the other one. 95.5/100 in the Whisky Bible is the highest mark Jim Murray gives to any of the former Macallan age statements (10yo, 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’ and 15yo). Even the 18yo, 21yo, 25yo, 30yo, 40yo and 50yo distillery releases take a back seat compared to the 12yo Fine Oak in Mr Murray’s opinion. Needless to say Whiskybase doesn’t agree where the default version of this bottle only scores 81.5/100 from 288 member votes. That classifies it as ‘good’ but not remarkable. My special box version has been given its own Whiskybase page where one member has kindly scored it 88/100. Clearly a Macallan fan, which is really who this release was aimed at.

One month after this £55 bottle came out and someone sold one at auction for, wait for it, £55. You have to laugh at the greed of some people. Sometimes they get lucky like with the Yamazaki Distiller’s Reserve where it sold at auction for £90 when supermarkets were selling it for £45. But take postage, commission, etc from the £55 winning bid and they clearly made a loss. I’ll be hanging onto mine for years rather than minutes but if I run out of milk I might have it in my coffee and put butter and cheese on the box.

Macallan 12yo Fine Oak Ernie Button box 70cl

Macallan 1995 18-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought: Drinkfinder, 21st July 2015

Ratings:
89.24/100 – Whiskybase (average from 70 member votes)

At last I have the Macallan 18yo! Admittedly I had to sell one of my kidneys on Ebay to get it but at least I still have my liver to process this fine whisky. No collection would be complete without it. There was a rumour a while ago that Macallan were removing the year of distillation from the 18yo, which finally happened (it now has the bottling year). Without the distillation year printed on the label the 18yo may not be as collectable. There’s no denying its quality though because over 89/100 on Whiskybase is a fantastic score.

In May 2014 I made a note that Amazon were selling the Macallan 18yo for £122.45 and free postage. 18 months later and you’ll be lucky to find it for less than £150. It wont be many more years before it hits £200, which makes getting a bottle or two now quite a good investment. But, as Horst Luening says in his video review below of the 1996 release, this is the Rolls Royce of whisky, so Macallan obviously feel there’s a market for this dram no matter how astronomical the price. I don’t think I’ll be selling any more organs to get a second bottle! One will do.

Macallan 1995 18yo 70cl

Macallan ‘Gold’

Gift – Nickolls & Perks, 9th September 2014

Ratings:
89.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
80.38/100 – Whiskybase (average from 60 member votes)

I’d tried the Macallan ‘Gold’ in a bar in Scotland and was considering buying a full bottle until Nickolls & Perks sent me a free miniature with my last order. As a collector this ticks it off the list for a while but I’d still like to get a full bottle eventually. The Whisky Bible says of the taste “it is the (chocolate) biscuity barley laced with honey and maple syrup that blows you away” and the author summaries with “no Macallan I have tasted since the first in 1975 has been sculpted to show the distillery in such delicate form.”

The average score and comments on Whiskybase are a little less grandiose than in the Whisky Bible. Having tried the Gold I would agree with a member of Whiskybase who describes it as an entry-level single malt. If you’re after a good Speysider at a reasonable price then the Macallan ‘Gold’ is certainly a contender. But it’s a bit like getting a pair of tartan socks for Christmas – it’s OK, definitely warming, certainly Scottish but nothing to write home about.

I’ve been monitoring the price of the Macallan ‘Gold’ in UK supermarkets for over a year now and it’s never been discounted from its price of £36, which has started to creep up in some locations. £36 puts it in the same price bracket, or slightly more than a discounted Aberlour A’bunadh, which smashes the Gold out of sight for nose, body, flavour, taste, strength, finish and being everything good about Speyside. For what the Gold is, it should be £30 maximum but you’re paying £6 more because of the Macallan name. Heck, who am I kidding?! I’m a designer labels whore so I’ll be getting a full bottle soon! 🙂

Here’s Jo of Whisky Wednesday with his thoughts on the Macallan Gold, which he scores 7.5/100 (YouTube Nov 2015):

Macallan Gold 5cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Sherry Oak’

Bought – Nickolls & Perks, 9th September 2014

Ratings:
93/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
84.87/100 – Whiskybase (average from 229 member votes)
88/100 – Whisky Bitch – Her review on YouTube (February 2014)

There are times during any form of collecting, be it whisky, stamps, shoes, motorbikes, etc, when you can have a mad moment. This can often be followed by a collector questioning why they do what they do, especially if they also believe in saving the planet, helping the poor and curing cancer. For me these moments of doubt can hit at any time but especially if I spend a lot of money on a whisky that doesn’t really merit the price tag. Enter the Macallan 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’. A mere snip at £66 in September but already a month later it’s up to £74 and rising. But it’s been discontinues, and getting rarer, so shops are gradually hiking the price. My brother remembers it when it used to be about £30, and that’s within the last 10 years. But I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking the Macallan is collectable for a future profit, if I don’t end up drinking it first.

Jim Murray rates the 12yo ‘Sherry Oak’ below the 12yo ‘Fine Oak’ but it’s the other way around with the votes from Whiskybase which are:

  • 84.87/100 – 12yo Sherry Oak, average from 229 votes
  • 81.68/100 – 12yo Fine Oak, average from 151 votes

Personally I do love a more sherried Speysider so I’m likely to side with those on Whiskybase instead of Mr Murray. But when two whiskies are as close as that, you can sometimes find it depends on the day as to which one you prefer. There’s a whisky for all moods, emotions and seasons.

Macallan 12yo Sherry Oak 70cl

Macallan 12-year-old ‘Fine Oak’ 70cl

Bought – Best of Whisky, Holland, 26th August 2014

Ratings:
95.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
81.74/100 – Whiskybase (average from 147 voters)

This is a 70cl upgrade of a miniature I bought a few months ago. I wasn’t expecting to get a full bottle because, having been discontinued, the cheapest is £100. That’s until I discovered Holland! Although I’m not the first person to discover Holland because there’s definitely people living there, and some of them sell whisky! 🙂 The Macallan was priced at €52.50, which equated to £42 at the time of purchase, £58 cheaper than the best UK price. The second best UK price was £200! Do I have “MUG” written on my forehead?! When getting whisky sent from Holland to the UK you need to find good deals like this to cover the cost of postage. This was a perfect find!

For more of my ramblings regarding this whisky please see my post about the miniature version here.

Macallan 12yo Fine Oak 70cl

Macallan Speymalt 2004

Bought – Whisky Galore, 24th June 2014

Ratings:
81.1/100 – Whiskybase (average from 23 member votes)

I’m not sure how long ago Gordon & Macphail started releasing the Macallan Speymalt but their range goes back to a version distilled in 1938 and bottled 65 years later in 2003. A bargain at over £7,000, if you can find it for sale! Personally I’d rather buy a car. But whenever G&M launched the range, each issue of the Macallan Speymalt tends to get good reviews. That is until the 2003 version (bottled in 2012). Jim Murray, author of the Whisky Bible, scores this bottling 68.5/100 with the remark “One to throw back in the river”. Oh dear. So, with no reviews when I bought this 2004 release (bottled in 2013), buying it was a bit of a gamble. But at £25.80 for a Macallan, I felt it was worth the risk. With the entry-level Macallan ‘Gold’ starting at £36, the Speymalt range is an excellent price to get a taste of a (usually) quality scotch.

Macallan Speymalt 2004-2013 70cl