Before I start my musings I’d first like to cut to the chase and declare a winner of The Sherry Project. And the winner is…. *Drumroll please* The Macallan 10yo CS! It was superior to all other whiskies involved in this competition. The Aberlour a’bunadh, Glenfarclas 105, Glendronach CS and Glengoyne CS, none of them can hold a candle to The Macallan.
Let me be the first to say this list is obviously subjective. This is how I would rank these five whiskies, and it is certainly not a definitive list, because such a thing doesn’t exist. But I am very confident in my own assessment, meaning that I feel I would rank these whiskies the same if I’d taste them blind for a second time. It is also worth saying that there is something called batch variation, which applies to all the whiskies that took part in The Sherry Project. Batch 45 of the a’bunadh might’ve ranked higher in this list, for instance. And a Glenfarclas 105 that was bottled a couple years earlier than the one I tasted, might be better (or worse).
Now on to the winner, The Macallan. It has always been the measuring stick when it comes to sherried whiskies. I know that a lot of people were drawn into the wondrous world of single malts after having had their first taste of a Macallan. And that’s why this recap will turn into sort of a mournful post, because unless you’re willing to spend 150 euro or more, you won’t be able to get yourself a bottle of the winner of The Sherry Project. Its discontinued, and that’s a damn shame.
Decline of The Macallan
This project proves to me why The Macallan still has a large following, because as a relative youngster that hasn’t always been clear to me. The Macallan began to decline with the introduction of their fine oak series in 2004, a couple of years before I seriously started drinking single malts. That means that I grew up in the new, lesser era of The Macallan, and saw a challenger like Glendronach be embraced as the new go-to-distillery for quality sherried whiskies. Actually, The Macallan is best known to me for their 1824-series, a foursome of color-driven whiskies without an age statement. So it’s safe to say that I don’t hold The Macallan in very high regard.
That’s why it makes me happy to see The Macallan win The Sherry Project. Since I tasted all five whiskies that took part in this competition side-by-side and blind, I was able to really compare them and be unbiased as well. The fact that The Macallan comes out on top in such a test is a testament to the great sherried whiskies that used to come from this Speyside-distillery. And it also makes me understand why The Macallan has an almost mythical status among a large portion of whisky connoisseurs.
Besides of this project I now have some insight into the greatness that The Macallan once had. But the outcome of The Sherry Project also makes me sad that they have chosen a new path. The no age statement-era of The Macallan has been a step in the wrong direction. And we shouldn’t expect them to change their direction in the near future. There won’t be a whole new series of all-sherried whiskies from The Macallan anytime soon, because apparently their stocks are low, and sherry casks are expensive to come by.
So now what?!
Don’t despair. Just because The Macallan doesn’t make great sherried whiskies like they once did, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t plenty of good stuff still to drink, as I found out during The Sherry Project. With the discontinued sherry oak-series of The Macallan out of the equation, Glendronach are proving themselves to be the new kings of sherried whiskies. And they have a whole range of sweet, sweet sherry drams, next to their already excellent cask strength-series. And the Aberlour a’bunadh, Glenfarclas 105 and Glengoyne CS are all pretty good value for money as well. The loss of The Macallan might hurt, but we still have a lot to be happy about.