The Macallan is one of those venerable distilleries that has reached legendary status.
I was very kindly gifted this bottle for my 50th birthday – wow! It was carefully kept aside for nearly two years, waiting for the right occasion.
Finally back in Mumbai over the summer, I thought our Whisky Ladies 6th anniversary the perfect moment! I’m so proud this tasting group hasn’t fully fallen apart in the wake of COVID restrictions, limited travel and vastly changed circumstances for many.
We split the tasting into two parts:
- One live in person with restricted numbers in an attempt to have a modicum of social distancing in our modest home
- Another fully virtual with our Euro ladies in Paris and two in Mumbai on the waitlist plus myself back in Nuremberg
This meant I needed to open the bottle just prior to the session and to my horror – the cork crumbled!
To be honest, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more with older bottles. In this case, with surgical care and precision, I eased out the biggest chunk, then went on a delicate fishing expedition for as much of the remaining bits as I could. Tip for others facing a similar challenge – a lobster fork is a great tool for such a scenario!
I was a bit trepidatious the whisky may have suffered… thankfully it seems to have survived what could have been a disaster!
The Macallan Estate Reserve 45.7%
- Colour – Dark copper
- Nose – A complete sherry bomb! Very rich and intense… amusingly we found cherry cola! Followed by prunes, wood, a hint smokey
- Palate – Spice with attitude, rich dark woods, tannins, the kind of whisky that prompts you to ‘pucker up’, like a dry deep robust shiraz, black currents, followed by rich sweet spiced marmalade
- Finish – Spicy raisins, cloves and ginger – delicious!
As we sipped, one of our lovely ladies recalled her time at the distillery – before COVID. She described its remarkable facilities and the whole curated “experience” – very professional and on a completely different scale. They know they are leading the pack of the “big leagues” and this exceptional bottle was no accident.
And what about our second session a month later? Each of us sipped from small samples that had been bottled up in August.
- Nose – We found none of the earlier intensity, though clearly it had a strong sherry influence. Instead we found it slightly medicinal, sour cherry and salted banana commingling with prunes
- Palate – Mild… one comment was “like it is trying to be elegant but isn’t quite there”, a bit herbal, metallic, opening up more to soft dark fruits, becoming a bit chocolaty
- Finish – Initially it was a bit shy, then revealed coffee beans – like an espresso candy
There was a bit of division on this one – some liked, others were indifferent, more for the style than the whisky itself. It wasn’t one of those strident “pay attention” to me kind of whiskies. Instead there was an understated element… we also wondered if perhaps we erred having it follow the robust Glenrothes.
After our session, I had a break from our whiskies (German class!)… 1.5 hours later what did I find? Remember that “trying to be elegant” comment? It had indeed become elegant, perfectly poised and balanced. Leading me to conclude this is one best had where there is no distraction, simply a single focus on just this whisky.
Here’s what the folks over at Macallan have to say:
- Colour – Dark Amber
- Nose – Soft fruits, ginger, vanilla, fudge and citrus
- Palate – Rich and fruity with intense oak wood and spiced orange
- Finish – Long with sweet citrus and oak wood
If you also want to enjoy this remarkable dram, I found it is still available – at least on TWE for GBP 399. I was very blessed to have been gifted it in November 2019 and we opened it in August 2021.
What else did we enjoy in our Birthday / Anniversary celebrations?
- Glentauchers 8 year (2005 / 2013) 48.2% (Sansibar) – Sweet aromas contrast with a spicier palate and tasty finish… young but most enjoyable!
- Balblair 18 year 46% (OB) – Honeyed orchard fruits, elegant and well-rounded with a long finish, a classic whisky that fully satisfies
- Glenrothes 18 year Elders’ Reserve 43% (OB) – A rich, robust, heavy whisky which reminded us more of port than sherry!
- Speyside Blended 45 year (1973/2019) Sherry Cask 45.1% (TWE) – Complex, unusual, shifting and evolving… one to slow down and experience
Unbelievably, both evenings were anchored with GBP 400 whiskies?! For the Whisky Ladies, this gem and for the Gents, the TWE Speyside Blended 45 year.
Now, I’m very much the kind of whisky explorer who enjoys tracking down worthy yet affordable drams. Typically I won’t go above EUR 100 if I can help it! However it is such a treat to experience exceptional whiskies well beyond our normal budgets – so huge thank you to kind benefactor and combined purchasing power respectively!
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