By Father John Rayls
Visitors to The Macallan estate will find many things that are still done the way they were in 1824, when the distillery was founded. Part of the estate is still farmed for an heirloom variety of barley, the harvest still used (along with other sources) in making the malt whisky. A single acre produces about 2.5 tons of barley, sufficient to produce about 1,800 bottles of The Macallan Whisky.
Another old practice is the distillery’s tight cuts at their unusually small stills, one that gives rise to a statistic people from The Macallan enjoy trotting out: only about 16% of a still run goes into the casks.
It’s not hard to see how The Macallan cultivated its place among the Speyside distilleries. Many of the world’s most expensive whiskies are made by The Macallan, a reflection of their devotion to quality, their patience in produced aged single malts, and some solid marketing. Even so, the distillery also turns out some affordable and desirable expressions, and the new 12 Year Old Double Cask is an example.
The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask is aged in sherry casks made from both American and European oak. The sherry influences is a common factor, but the two different types of oak offer separate sets of core, wood flavors to the whisky.
In the bottle, the whisky reflects a deep amber color (all natural), showing some of its sherry cask influence, while in the glass it appears as more of a deep golden color. The legs are short and thin and quick to drain to the bottom of the glass.
The nose is soft and faint, even at an 86 proof, with only a very slight burn if pursued aggressively. There are notes of light honey, light oak on top of some nuttiness.
The liquid has a very slight oily/creamy mouthfeel, but it is not a dominant characteristic. The entire palate experience is near the back of the mouth concluding on the roof of the mouth at the back with some small action along the back sides of the tongue. In theory, the American oak brings more vanilla type flavors, while the European oak brings more dried fruit flavors. What I found was that the vanilla is very present, along with some very slight salty caramel and some light sherry flavors.
This is a very medium, slightly creamy, easy drinking Scotch whisky. It’s interesting and good tasting, but not a driving/bold flavor profile. If you’ve ever experienced a mead wine, you may think you’ve experienced some deja vu. However, this whisky tasting is not as sweet. The finish is long with some good pepper closing out the experience.
Expect to find The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old retailing for $79.95.