I've had a handful of ex-bourbon Macallans from independent bottlers, and I've liked them all because they allowed me to experience the actual Macallan character freed of its sherry shackles. The result is usually very good whisky.
This single malt is the first of a number of reviews of the five olden whiskies from last week's delightful Calabasas event. I'll sprinkle the other four reviews here and there. Despite what this week demonstrated, I don't want to smother you excellent readers with reports on impossible to find/afford whiskies. But since my daughter just turned two, I figured I should let my hair down, because it let me down. (Dr. Katz reference!)
Ownership: The Edrington
Region: Speyside (Central)
Bottler: Duncan Taylor
Series: Rare Aultd
Age: 37 years (September 1969 - October 2006)
Maturation: "oak casks" -- um, thanks, I guess? And I do believe this is one "cask"
Cask #: 8360
Bottle #: 129/178
Alcohol by Volume: 45.8%
So two things happened during and before this tasting. Firstly, this wasn't from a bourbon cask. It's definitely a refill sherry cask. So much for my intro.
Secondly, it finally happened... The Spill! I had the glass sitting on a normally very stable nightstand, but when I opened one of the drawers, the entire nightstand toppled over. Many things went airborne, including the 37 year old Macallan. Magically, the glass landed in a random open spot in one of the drawers, though not before half of the sample hit the carpet. Thus my shorter palate notes below:
The color is a light yellow gold. Definitely a sherry cask on the nose, but as per the color it's a refill and the result is more cask than sherry. The orange peel notes I usually find in Highland Park 18 are here as well, but mustier and more delicate. Primary notes of fudge, butterscotch, and fresh roses mix with smaller ones of canned peaches and dried berries. Amongst these prettier things is a moderate amount of salty meat and an emphatic metal grease note. The palate is quite potent for the ABV, even after 45 minutes of air (and the spill). It's very creamy with lots of both malt and exotic wood spice. Then apple pie filling, lime zest, creamiscles, cinnamon, and a hint of pecans. The impressively long finish has a strong barley note which sits atop the toasted oak, followed by black pepper, pecans, and mint leaves.
Many of the guys from the Calabasas event liked this whisky the best and I understand why. It's a tremendous single malt that really sticks the landing with one of the longest finishes I've ever experienced. The nose is gorgeous, and though this did turn out to be from a sherry cask the mature spirit powers right through. The rich palate is well punctuated by that aforementioned finish. It's a toss up between this one and the Ardbeg for my favorite this week. In either case, they're both grand whiskies if you can find 'em and afford 'em.
Availability - Auctions?
Pricing - Thousands?
Rating - 91