Review: The Macallan 12 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

100% Sherry Casks
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

One of the most well known brands, the Macallan has been producing whiskies since 1824 – and, at least a few years ago (and perhaps still) was the third highest selling single malt brand in the world. It is often equated with luxury – if stereotypes hold, it might be the one drunk by lawyers and it was James Bond’s drink of choice. It has some of the smallest stills in Speyside, resulting in a heavy spirit coming off the stills into the barrels as there is less copper contact to strip away some of the heavy elements. The Macallan also uses two yeast strains in their fermentation, which is uncommon in Scotland where most distilleries only use one strain of yeast.

This particular whisky has been matured exclusively in sherry oak, which Macallan obtains from Jerez in spain where both the casks and the sherry seasoning are carefully controlled and selected. As far as I understand, this whisky (along with some of its older counterparts, which just had age statements) has been replaced in the Macallan range by the 1824 series (which includes Macallan Gold , Amber, Sienna, Ruby).

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Fruity, with apples coming off at first, but also with a rich background of raisins, vanilla, honey, and dense, slightly earthy, oak. Some caramel develops, and more malt comes forward with some time.

Taste: Comes off fairly dry, and the flavour develops into a bit of a spicy flurry including lots of hints of the oxidized sherry character and honey. Malt is fairly present and this carries a decent amount of cereal (i.e. grain) flavours. It’s interesting how the sweetness develops – as it starts out, it doesn’t appear to be that sweet until the sweetness kicks in mid-palate, where it continues. I am a fan of a bit of a dry character – which this one does pretty well.

Finish: Some biscuity-notes (like oat cakes), honey, raisins, almonds, and some light applesauce and malt as well. All of this with a fairly significant oxidized sherry character as well. The taste, length, and feel are all quite nice.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Average, at $89.