Speyside

Review: The Macallan "A Night on Earth in Scotland" Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

Image courtesy of The Macallan.

ABV
43%
Aging
Sherry-seasoned American and European Oak Casks, Ex-Bourbon casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

This whisky is made from a combination of american ex-bourbon casks and sherry-seasoned American and European oak casks to celebrate the new year. I can’t take the press release very seriously - but the whisky, I can:


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

The nose is pretty creamy and rich, with orange, almond, a good bit of vanilla and quite rich clove. Very nutty – almond and roasted walnut - I haven’t noticed this much nutty dominance in a Macallan before. There is a lovely umami-lending rancio note from the sherry that binds everything together very well. The palate is rich with dried fruit notes, particularly raisin – both sultana and Thompson – but also baking spice and heavy honey. The finish is full of dried fruit and spice. This keeps growing on me as I keep having more sips. Tobacco on the finish, but also fig syrup, marmalade, and baking spice. Brilliant!

Highly Recommended (50% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher). And at the top of this category. A brilliant whisky!

Value: Low, at $175


Review: The Macallan The Harmony Collection Rich Cacao Single Malt Scotch Whisky by Jason Hambrey

ABV
40%
Aging
100% Sherry Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Macallan (Craigellachie, Scotland)

Macallan has produced this cask in a combination of European and American casks in order to pair harmoniously with chocolate. In fact, the whisky comes right from the recent discoveries of the Macallan’s master blender: The Macallan Whisky Maker, Polly Logan, said, “working in collaboration with Jordi Roca, acknowledged as one of the best and most creative pastry chefs in the world, and with exceptional chocolatier, Damian Allsop, I went on a journey of discovery, learning of the craftsmanship, passion and creativity which goes into making chocolate. From the press release from Macallan:

The Macallan Whisky Maker, Polly Logan, said, “working in collaboration with Jordi Roca, acknowledged as one of the best and most creative pastry chefs in the world, and with exceptional chocolatier, Damian Allsop, I went on a journey of discovery, learning of the craftsmanship, passion and creativity which goes into making chocolate.

“As I immersed myself in this world, I uncovered a great synergy between the whisky-making process and that of chocolate. Both take time and exceptional attention to detail, with even the slightest changes to the process encouraging different aromas and flavours to emerge.

“For this expression, I sought out a specific chocolate note in The Macallan’s traditional sherry seasoned European oak casks and combined this with a vanilla note imparted by sherry seasoned American oak casks to sweeten the slightly bitter chocolate note I had found. This exquisite single malt offers a delightful whisky and chocolate pairing experience and the chance to elevate The Macallan experience to a new dimension.”

However, sadly, many of these NAS whiskies provide very little information about what actually goes into them, which is very unfortunate, and it gives distilleries license to provide even less information about their product. I find difficult in finding what is actually good rather than just a nicely marketed with all these releases everywhere. Moreover, the first wave of NAS releases seemed better than a lot of new NAS releases we are getting these days, particularly from Scotland. 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


Review (2021)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2021

The nose is full of sherried fruit, light spice, and nut oil. Light apple bursts through in places. It’s so bright with the wine notes that it has more than a few nods to Armagnac. The baking spice is beautiful. The palate is full of sherry – it fills every corner of the mouth – full of rich, dried fruit and all sorts of umami. Loads of fruit cake – fitting, indeed, for the season. The finish is full of umami – that sherry rancio – it also goes all over the place. There is some nice early barley holding it all together.

It’s nice, rich, with all sorts of sherry all throughout. However, it is a lot of sherry and the whisky sometimes gets lost. But quite enjoyable.

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

Value: Low, at $215.


Review: Mortlach 22 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky (Single Malts of Scotland) by Jason Hambrey

Mortlach 22 Year Old 1.jpg
ABV
54.2%
Aging
22 Years; Ex-Sherry Cask
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Mortlach (Keith, Scotland)

Another cask strength bottling of an old Mortlach – some of these casks are just amazing. I co-bought this with a number of friends for $270 to get a glimpse of another “too-expensive-for-a-bottle-but-i-still-want-a-taste” bottle. This whisky is produced by Elixir distillers, who are also behind the wonderful Elements of Islay series. $270 is a lot cheaper than the prices of the special release Diageo Mortlachs, and there are still some real gems coming from independent bottlers.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: ~2019

On the nose, quite reminiscent of the 16 year old which I quite like. A very winey nose. Bright orange, slight sulphur, baking spice, and loads of beefy notes. Lots of orange…a bit suprising, but it works really well with the baking spice. Quite an interesting nose indeed – we have cucumber in the mix! It all works together.

The palate is rich, nutty, and oaky, with a decent amount of rancio notes and a long sherry finish. Very savoury. Otherwise, it isn’t too dissimilar from the nose other than a bigger sherry kick.

I’m not sure that I like it much more than the new 16 year old, at the same strength. But this one wins out slightly given the richer and longer finish (aided by the higher ABV) and a greater amount of uniqueness.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very low, at $270.


Review: Caperdonach 1968 37 Year Old Single Grain Scotch Whisky (Duncan Taylor) by Jason Hambrey

Caperdonich+1969+37+YO+Duncan+Taylor.jpg
ABV
40.6%
Aging
37 years
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Caperdonich (Rothes, Scotland)

This comes from Duncan Taylor’s Lonach range, which is a label created for whiskies which are approaching ABV levels below 40% due to the evaporation through the barrel (in humid climates, more alcohol evaporates through the barrels than water, thus, the alcoholic percentage drops with age). Thus, this is only 40.6% but it is a cask strength whisky!

The distillery itself was built in 1898 by the founders of Glen Grant, even going by “Glen Grant #2”, but closed after four years of operation until 1965 when it operated until 2002. The distillery is closed now.


Review (2019)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2007

The nose has dried mushrooms, fruit, toffee – very similar in profile to many of the older Scotch distillates I’ve tasted with the earthiness and almost a slight musty woodiness. The palate is very sweet, with loads of fruit – but contrasted with nice, dry barley and a finish which builds into earthy notes. Also, there’s a nice mineral thread throughout. The finish is sweet, rich, and dry – with just beautiful sweet, oaky barley. Quite long, too. It does well – even after 37 years, it’s not over-oaked.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: N/A


Review: Kininvie 17 Year Old by Jason Hambrey

Kininvie 17.jpg
ABV
42.6%
Aging
17 Years; Oloroso Sherry and Ex-Bourbon Casks
Recipe
100% Malted Barley
Distiller Kininvie (Dufftown, Scotland)

We rarely see many products from this distillery - it is in William Grant & Sons stable and feeds their blends- it is a relatively young distillery, being built in 1990, and it was built originally on the Balvenie property. Very few whiskies have been released out of the distillery - this was one of the first and only bottlings to date that has come out of Kininvie - it is 80% ex-bourbon and 20% ex-sherry.


Review (2020)

  • Batch: 001

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

A real richness here, on the nose. Oak, potpourri, chamomile, pear, vanilla, toffee, and nice light barley notes. The palate is rich, with a bit of burnt match, sawdust, apple, pear, toasted oak, beeswax, and honey. Light, tannic finish with lots of apple, pear, baking spices, and slightly bitter oak (in a good way – just a touch of bitterness).
Recommended (82% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value: N/A. This is out of production now, but it was expensive when you can get it and even more expensive now so it would probably be in the low value category.