The Macallan. The rich, spicy giant is still growing.
The Macallan. Make sure you do not drop the “The” when saying The Macallan. I made that mistake and you will not make it twice. I’ll be honest, The Macallan is very popular among my friends and I think American’s in general, but it has never been my favorite. It was always on the spicy side for me. Most of the time they were drinking the 12 Year Old. I will say I am changing my tune a bit, but not for all of their bottlings. One thing is for sure, that the Edrington Group is doing a great job with the brand. Edrington Group also owns Highland Park, the blend Cutty Sark and The Famous Grouse. You can tell they have been selling a lot of Macallan because when you drive on site you spend about half a mile going through construction. Currently The Macallan Distillery is going from producing around 10.2 million liters of new make spirit per year to the potential of 25 million liters per year. At first they will not be at this capacity, but they do expect to need that supply to meet demand in the near future. Not only will they increase production capacity, but they are also constructing a biomass plant on site to be energy self-sufficient.
The Macallan Distillery was an official, legal distillery since 1824. The name Macallan comes from the word “Mac” meaning son in gaelic and the owner of the distillery had a father named Allan. Hence Macallan. Very clever- the son of allan. Now, I researched this and I have found different explanations of what the name means in Gaelic. If this is incorrect, I apologize, but I happen to like it so I will believe it!
I wasn’t paying full attention as the tour started discussing barley, because usually you can assume that they use Concerto barley. Then I started listening a little harder and heard that they actual use a genetically altered version of Golden Promise barley. They call this strand Momentum and it is proprietary to Macallan. Their not so light and fruity flavor can be partly explained by their stills. See picture below. Their stills are quite short and stubby for a Speyside region distillery. We did get to try their new make spirit off the still and it definitely doesn’t start as fruity as the likes of its neighbors. They currently have 40 employees on site and work 24/7. The casks are filled on site and then bottling happens in the south of Scotland with the rest of the Edrington brands.
They also seem quite controlling over their casks as well. Apparently they control their sherry casks. They source the wood, make the barrels and then sell or “lease” them to sherry producers. They are then sent directly back to Macallan. Bourbon barrels are easier to get and those can range from a variety of people like Jim Beam or Maker’s Mark. They have 350,000 casks on site and hold other distilleries casks as well within their dunnage and racked warehouses. They have quite the exhibition about their wood and how strict they are on managing their casks. I guess this speaks true to their rich, spicy flavors. They will never use a barrel more than once for their single malts. Apparently their Master Distiller/Blender at Macallan is quite down to earth and they all speak very highly of him. He came up through the ranks at the distillery starting as a warehouse worker. Take a look at his story….
The Macallan is like many other popular brands that needed to start and play into the Non-Age Statement. They have quite a few brands out there right now and I’ll list out a few of them before my tasting notes.
Non-Age Statements- Gold, Amber, Sienna (all based on color/barrel type).
Fine Oak- 10, 12, 15, 18 Year Olds. This means they were triple cask matured in American Bourbon, Ex American Sherry Oak and European Sherry Oak.
The Macallan Core Range- 12, 25 Year Olds.
Along with many other special editions and releases. I tried the following drams….
18 Year Fine Oak
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Creamy caramel, fresh deck, oak, tropical fruits.
Pallet: Apples, dried fruits, chai and citrus.
This was my favorite by far. The nose was so different from what you expect from a Macallan but the pallet lived up to it's reputation. Overall, very good dram.
12 Year Fine Oak
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Almonds, orange and toffee. I don’t know what it was about this one but I couldn’t really get much of anything on the nose! It was either something wrong with me or the dram!
Pallet: Straw, raisins, tangerine.
Definitely not as good as it’s older 18 YR old sister.
1824 Amber- Non-Age Statement hence the 1824 Distillery Start Date
Holly’s Tasting Note..
Nose: Papaya, creamy spice, vanilla.
Pallet: Sugar cookie, Christmas cookie, apple cinnamon.
Next up is Glen Moray..