Macallan is one of the most popular and prominent single malts in the world, only lagging behind Glenfiddich and Glenlivet in terms of mass appeal. But while the two big Glens are mostly viewed as casual, starter single malts that are a fine introduction to Scotch whisky, Macallan still has a reputation of ultimate luxury AND quality.
The premium reputation is carefully cultivated by the distillery, but I find it hard to say the same about the quality anymore. Macallan used to stand for the ultimate sherry matured whisky—even their entry-level Macallan 10yo used to be unimpeachable. With the growing demand for single malt whisky and Macallan in particular, the brand hasn’t been able to adhere to their own high standards.
It barely has done damage to their reputation though. Only a small minority of dedicated whisky enthusiasts ruminates the loss of Macallan’s excellence. I wonder how long it’ll be before—if ever—this catches up with them. But as long as old Macallan keeps selling for ridonculous prices at auction and is portrayed as the ultimate premium whisky in pop culture, that aura of brilliance will probably stay intact for a long time.
Macallan’s Fine Oak range was introduced in 2004 and must be a success considering how long it has been around. But when launched it was lamented by fans of the brand, who expressed concern about the different direction (i.e. the use of ex-bourbon casks). The Fine Oak range never achieved the legendary status earlier bottlings.
Macallan 12 Years Fine Oak Triple Cask Matured (40%, OB, 2020)
Nose: A gentle, sweet whisky with some shy touches of barley and a whiff of porridge and honey. There are raisins too, but also oranges and peaches. Finally a sprinkle of aniseed. Taste: Soft spices and subtle dried fruits, such as sultanas. The oak is present but not too much. Some peanut skins. Pretty decent overal. Finish: Short to medium and not much new to discover.
Perfectly drinkable, approachable single malt from Macallan, but it’s not exactly at Rolls-Royce level. Once upon a time maybe, but not anymore. Does anyone know who actually first coined that nickname?