Macallan Terra 42.8% with a Sherry “Seasoning” of Spanish + American Oak…

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:

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Sherry Expressions – Seasoned, Finished or Matured…

Sherry’s influence on single malts is significant. At one of the spectrum could be a full on sherry “bomb” matured for years exclusively in first re-fill casks and at the other a mere hint with a “touch” of sherry finish for a mere month.

Our host for the evening cleverly selected from duty-free three different variants of Sherry expressions. Each explored a different approach to bringing a sherry influence to the whisky.

Here is what we explored with our Sherry expressions evening:

Read on over the next few days for insights into our impressions, speculations and interpretation of what the distillery shares about the way in which the sherry element influenced each single malt.

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The Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43%

Gotta love how whisky becomes a world traveller. This particular Balvenie started its life in Scotland with the usual approach but then was finished in ex-rum barrels from the Caribbean. Then made its way to Taiwan where it was purchased for the Whisky Ladies of Mumbai, India.

What did we think? Read on!

Balvenie 14 year Caribbean Cask 43% (from Taiwan)

  • Nose – Lemon curd, caramel very spring-like, no question there was a rum influence, loads of rum raisins, dry fruits, nuts, chocolate, cloves, quite pronounced honeyed rum, after sipping and some time, it settled into something almost floral
  • Palate – Not as pushy on the palate as it is on the nose, toffee, mellow, then became a bit sour, then a lot more spice
  • Finish – Very sweet, ripe plums
  • Water – Don’t…. reduces it to flavoured water

Overall it was pronounced enjoyable. And while clearly part of the ‘standard stable’, the rum finish is a nice touch.

Here is what the folks at The Balvenie have to say:

  • NOSE Rich, sweet and creamy toffee on the nose combines with fresh fruit notes
  • TASTE Rounded with vanilla and sweet oak notes, with a fruity character that develops with time
  • FINISH Soft and lingering

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend:

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That Boutique-y Whisky Company Glentauchers 20 year for LMdW

That Boutique-y Whisky Company has crafted trade-mark labels and fine contents. One of our Mumbai Whisky Ladies picked this particularly bottle up some time ago and we’ve been patiently waiting for th right opportunity.

On the label you can see Thierry Bénitah (La Maison du Whisky CEO and son of its founder, Georges Bénitah) in the 1980s, surrounded by classic whisky bottlings and wearing a particularly snappy turtleneck…

Glentauchers 20 year (Boutique-y Whisky Company) Batch 4, 46.9% bottled for La Maison du Whisky with 327 bottles

  • Nose – Hazelnut cream, wood, almond, also some ripe fruits, maple syrup, oodles and oodles of butterscotch, a bit of menthol, green almond
  • Palate – A real tingle and oomph! A bit bitter, some sweet spice, caramel fudge and nougut, with a bit of tart sour sauce, berries
  • Finish – Spice like white pepper

Some loved this one. Others found the blend so approachable that following with this single malt was a bit of a jolt.

As this whisky came out some time ago, you won’t find it on the “That Boutique-Y Whisky Company” website, however can track down some tasting notes at The Master of Malt:

  • Nose: Fresh and floral with hints of violet and honey. Stewed berries with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Butterscotch.
  • Palate: Roasted chestnuts and black pepper. Apricot jam, quince and a whisper of cinnamon.
  • Finish: Sodabread with salted butter, floral malt once again, cumin and dried raspberries.

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend:

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The Appetizer – Ballantine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%

When one of our Whisky Ladies mentioned she would be bringing a special 20 year old Glentauchers bottled by that Boutique-y Whisky Company for La Maison du Whisky, I suddenly remembered I had an old small bottle of a series presented by Ballentine’s to show off the respective character of key elements in their blend.

So pulled it out, dusted it off and hoped it wouldn’t be completely oxidized and terrible… we were in luck! It had stood the test of Mumbai storage conditions rather well!

Ballantine’s Glentauchers

Ballantine’s 17 year Glentauchers 40%

  • Nose – Fruity, nutty, lemon, butterscotch, ice cream
  • Palate – Lemon cherry, very smooth, buttery, light and balanced, a bit of chilli, slightly bitter
  • Finish – Bitter burnt caramel

Overall this whisky was pronounced “Yum!” Simply an exceedingly easy “appetizer” of a whisky. Far from being a disaster, it was actually quite delicious. Clearly this blend had stood the test of time.

What followed was a trio of single malts:

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Tragedy Struck! Gordon + MacPhail’s Linkwood 1998 46%

Once upon a time there was a Linkwood that was poured into a bottle in 2012… to make its way from Scotland to a World of Whisky store to a home in Mumbai, India. And then find its way into our glasses in October 2018…

We sampled it blind and here is what we found…

Linkwood 13 year (8 Dec1998 / Jan 2010) Cask No 5014 Refill Sherry Hogshead 46% for World of Whiskies

  • Colour – Very yellow
  • Nose – When first opened it was so fruity – particularly jackfruit, cashew fruit then red fruits… then as strong as it came on, the basket of fruits slipped away… Particularly after the first sip. Instead there was biscuits, cereal notes with hay, grass… more and more it became dusty, musty, woody… after even more time there was a light coconut and even some marshmallow but… something wasn’t quite right….
  • Palate – Sharp, initially fruity, then musty, sour, earthy, bitter, very woody, some spice, quite thin with little body, wet fallen leaves
  • Finish – Very short finish
  • Water – Some found it horrible, bitter vs others finding it became tart with lemons then sweet, the fruit came back with some spice yet was still very musty with dry coconut husks

We struggled with this one… it seemed oddly incomplete or off… something or other wasn’t quite right. Over and over we kept remarking on the peculiar musty element.

With the reveal we were all surprised.

Linkwood.

Gordon & Macphail.

Really?? The character wasn’t in keeping with our past experience with Linkwood whiskies and certainly not Gordon & Macphail bottles.

And that is when our host revealed that the reason he served this single malt from a lovely decanter was the cork had crumbled completely. He further shared he had purchased this years ago – likely not long after it was released in 2012.

It seemed that tragedy had struck. What could have once been a fine dram was given no favours by being stored in a Mumbai cupboard for years. There actually have been studies on the impact of storage conditions on whisky bottles. Mumbai’s heat isn’t kind to bottles… and this seems to have happened in this case. Sigh….

What about other Linkwood experiences?

Our original tasting group continued in our “classic” evening with two other Scottish single malts:

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Scottish Trio – Linkwood, Old Pulteney, Royal Brackla

Sometimes you just want to enjoy classic styled whiskies… with a flight that has a straight forward age progression from younger to older… no experimentation, just a standard combination of ex-bourbon cask and ex-sherry maturation.

That is exactly what we did this month, sampling each malt blind… And yet it wasn’t entirely as “traditional” an experience as one would think…

Our original tasting group went “traditional” with a Scottish trio:

Curious to know more about what we found? Just click on the whisky links above and get all the juicy details!

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Whisky Ladies Contributor’s Choice – Glentauchers, Balvenie, Talisker

When doing whisky tastings, themes are great but sometimes going a bit random is even better! And that’s exactly what we did this month with the Whisky Ladies…. we invited contributions and then discovered what they brought!

What did we explore in our Ladies Choice evening?

Our core focus was a trio with a wee ‘appetizer’ blend thrown in at the last minute:

Curious to know more? Just click on the whisky links to read what we thought!

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The Glenrothes 21 year Minister’s Reserve 43%

The Glenrothes is one of those distilleries that you know what you are likely to get – strong sherry influence, robust and full.

It is what one of our samplers called a “Ronseal” after a well-known UK ad for varnish that came out over 21 years ago… The brand was known for its simple ad line “Does Exactly What it Says on the Tin” which soon became synonymous with anything that is what it says it is.

And what did we think?

The Glenrothes 21 year Minister’s Reserve 43%

  • Nose – Spice, sherry, fruity, sweet cinnamon, cloves, chocolate, plus fruit cake and icing, old raisons, tinned fruit, nutty, some berries, more vanilla cake, dash of mocha chocolate
  • Palate – Desert in a glass! Dangerously easy to drink, soft and smooth with some Christmas spice, a very classic sherry on all accounts, enjoyable and full
  • Finish – Fab long finish with tobacco

Nice and classic, and so sweet it was almost like sipping rum. In short, it was exactly what you expect from a quality sherry matured whisky.

While I preferred the Highland Park solo without a cigar, The Glenrothes was a perfect cigar partner!

What do The Glenrothes folks have to say on the box?

Distillation is unusually slow and takes place in unusually tall stills which deliver a sweet, clear, fruity spirit. Maturation is in American oak and Spanish oak casks, a combination designed to deliver a perfect balance of flavours associated with our award-winning Speyside single malt; ripe fruits, juicy citrus, creamy vanilla and complex spices.

Would we agree? Yup!

And what would this set you back? These days, it would be about £155.46 online at Master of Malt. We opened our bottle in September 2018.

In our latest greatest adult evening, what all did we try?

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21 years – Aberfeldy, The Glenrothes, Highland Park 1991

Sometimes you just want to go classic, returning to the days of age statements… or at least an aged dram known by vintage!

That is exactly what we did with our evening trio of “21s” – each whisky was matured for 21 years, an increasing rarity with ever increasing prices in the world of whisky.

In our latest greatest “adult” evening, what all did we try?

Want to know more? Just check out the links above and read on….

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