By Jake Emen
The Macallan 12 year old in their Sherry Oak range is a legend of a bottle. In my mind it’s one of the perfect pinpoints on the graph between accessible pricing and great whisky.
It’s affordable enough that you could enjoy it regularly, albeit not haphazardly, and it’s widespread enough that you can comfortably bank on most well-stocked bars having it around. There’s something to be said for knowing you can get a whisky you love at a decent price at nearly any damn watering hole around. I actually gave engraved bottles of The Macallan 12 to the groomsmen in my wedding – the best man was upgraded to a different offering – and I’d be happy to default to ordering it around town.
Still, with all of the many times you might drink, eat, or listen to something you consider a “go-to”, it’s always different when you really give it a more thorough evaluation, carefully combing through to see what’s really there — behind its innate appeal, reputation and “go-to” status.
The Macallan 12 (43% ABV in the U.S.) is a deep hued tawny-copper in your glass. It’s aged in Sherry oak casks and as such it’s no surprise that Sherry dominates the nose, with hints of red wine, sweet fruits including blackberries and plums, and oak. Whereas sometimes the nose on a whisky is quite different from its palate, with The Macallan 12, it’s entirely consistent. Sherry. Sweet red fruit. Oak.
This is a silky smooth sip. Powerfully smooth, in the seemingly effortless way you might watch an athlete perform his task only to be left with the impression that he didn’t even need to try to do the amazing thing he just did. Think Joe Louis throwing a left hook. You didn’t even see him wind up and yet that poor fella in the ring with him is already flat on his face. There’s a pleasant warmth but not a hint of an oily heat or burn. The finish leaves you with oak, a touch of spice, and a desire for another dram.
The Macallan 12 is a perfect choice for first-timers you’re attempting to initiate into a love of whisky, or more seasoned whisky imbibers simply looking for a rock solid, dependable drink. After a close-up, its status as a go-to in my personal repertoire is certainly unchanged.
You can usually find The Macallan 12 for around $45. It’s widely available online and will most certainly be down at your local store. That’s one of the great things about this great whisky, you don’t need to track it down. It’ll be there.