Our host for the evening had a clear plan – explore different dimensions of sherry influences. He started our evening with one that had a subtle yet unmistakable sherry element… with a twist!
We sampled it blind then the whisky was revealed. Here is what we discovered…
Macallan Terra 42.8%
- Colour – Dark burnished copper
- Nose – Spice fruit, lemon, raisins, sour plums, figs, quite sharp with some lactone acidity, wood… then it started to mellow, the dry fruits remained as did the sweetness… After even more time, the nose held a distinctive prune and plum element that also had a gentle sweet lemon curd too, perhaps even some cake-like elements too
- Palate – First sip was full of honey, caramelized sugars with no burn initially then from behind the spice came out – direct, full of red pepper spice. It was oaky, dry, with a khatta meetha (sour sweet) quality, medium body….
- Finish – No mistaking the sherry element on the finish yet it also retained that lovely spice tail, long, slightly bitter too
- Water – Some tried, some did not. For this who did, water initially kicked up the spice then mellowed it
We spent a long time speculating about this one before our host revealed the bottle.
There was something familiar – the nose clearly had a sherry influence, and yet on the palate we thought of the spice from a French oak cask or at least a European one. Talk turned to the French Oak Chichibu and discussions of how much more expensive European oak is over American… and then Japanese Mizunara oak even more so!
In terms of palate profile, it most closely reminded us of Compass Box’s Spice Tree yet the aromas clearly meant there was a sherry dimension at work too. What was interesting is the nose made us expect something quite different from we discovered on the palate – less complex than anticipated yet the sweet then spice really grew on all of us.
In terms of age, many of thought it may be young, still playing around with its different elements, yet was well crafted. Above all, we appreciated the quality and balance of this whisky.
And the reveal?
Unbelievable! A Macallan?
Even more so, a careful interpretation of the wood wording helped clarify what we had puzzled over in our speculations…
The whisky was aged in first fill sherry “seasoned” American and Spanish oak casks – with “seasoned” being the key element. Somehow the Macallan team managed to ‘crack’ having sherry in the casks just long enough to bring a lovely sherry touch to the nose yet not so long that it impacted the new oak quality on the palate.
We were impressed and concluded this was one classy whisky where the quality of wood and care in approach produced a rather enjoyable dram – one that harkened back to the days when one could count on Macallan producing a mighty fine malt.
And what do the folks over at Macallan have to say?
A complex, yet balanced single malt, with a distinctive character of toffee, sweet dried fruit and rich wood spices.
- Colour – Sunset Orange
- Nose – Dried fruits are tempered by lemon zest, toffee and light ginger. Aged oak rises.
- Palate – Sweet dried fruits, subtle tones of ripening apple. Heavy and fresh on the palate.
- Finish – Medium length. Dried fruit and wood spices.
Terra was released late 2017 for travel retail, part of The Macallan’s Quest Collection. In this case, the aim was to explore the balance between the spice of first-fill oak with the sherry influence of sweet dried fruit. Clearly we found this quest a success!
And while it is duty-free, that doesn’t necessarily mean cheap. Master of Malt had it listed as $171… before it sold out!
Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:
- Macallan Terra 42.8% – “Seasoned” 1st fill American and European Oak Cask
- Glenmorangie The Tayne 43% – “Finished” in Amontillado Spanish Sherry
- Glen Deveron 20 year 40% – Matured in “Sherry Oak”
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