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Monday, November 26, 2018

Macallan 12 year old Fine Oak

Readers of my earliest whisky reviews (if any of you good souls still come here) may remember my fondness for Macallan's Fine Oak series. In fact, I believe I am the only person on the planet who liked their Fine Oaks better than their Sherry Oaks. Macallan retired the Fine Oak series from their major markets right around the time they launched their stupefying color-coded NAS range. But then, around two years ago, a Double Cask and Triple Cask series was launched...

Now one can find the Sherry Oak, Fine Oak, 1824, color-coded, The Editions, Double Cask, Triple Cask, Rare Cask, Quest and fancy decanter ranges co-existing on retailers' shelves all in the same country at the same. That is some crystal clear branding right there.

Back to the ol' Fine Oaks. Fine Oak 12 year old has some history in my household. Eight years ago, Kristen had a pour of Fine Oak 12 while on a business trip in San Francisco (without me!). I couldn't find a bottle in the US because it wasn't released in the US. I also couldn't find a bottle in London the following year because I was told it wasn't released in the UK. Fine Oak 12 was, at that point in time, only for sale in Asia (so I was informed by a UK retailer). So I never had a chance to try it.

It was in the UK, Scot-land in particular, that I found this mini in 2016. A random tourist shop had a shelf full of these minis, minis that had been hanging around for 3 years. And now I get to try Macallan 12 year old Fine Oak for the first time.
Distillery: Macallan
Range: Fine Oak
Region: Speyside (Central)
Age: minimum 12 years
Maturation: American oak bourbon casks, American oak sherry casks, Spanish oak sherry casks
Bottling Code: L0509S L3
Alcohol by Volume: 40%
Chill-filtration? Yes
Caramel coloring? Yep

Re: color. Mit some serious farbstoff. Encroaching on DiageoGold™. There's a burst of anise on the nose upon early sniffs. Then lemons, prunes, barrel char and citronella candles. Apples and vanilla. More oak, grape jam and chocolate notes appear after 20 minutes. The palate is mostly vanilla and sweet sherry. Lots of grape stuff and roasted nuts. Lime lollipops and ground cloves. More nuts and bitter chocolate show up after a while. The sweet finish is loaded with citrus and grape candy. PB&J with a little more salt.

This is almost surgical in its inoffensiveness. Had it been bottled at 46%abv, or even 43%, then Macallan would have had a popular classic on its hands. As it is there are two issues. First, all the dilution and filtration has rendered the palate's texture thin as a blend. Secondly, those practices have been so aggressive, and the cask batch likely so large, that the whisky has been left devoid of specific style. It could be from any distillery anywhere. Lack of character is its character. It drinks very well, though.

Availability - some European retailers
Pricing - $45-$75 
Rating - 83