[March, 2017] Some time ago I sat at the bar of the Highlander Inn in Craigellachie
looking over the river Spey to the Macallan diistillery when the man
besides me bitterly complained about how bad the quality of the Macallan
malt is nowadays compared to older releases. As a proof to his
complaint he ordered two drams of Macallan for me: An older 10 year
bottling (most probably distilled in the early eighties) and a new one.
I had to confess he was right, the quality was remarkably different
and not in favour of the new release. I know by myself that all the old
official Macallan bottlings are real stunners, I had not a single one
that did not impress me. But is this true for all old Macallans?
So this one compares best to the Fine Oak releases as it is a naked (non-sherried) Macallan. At the time when it was released this was very unusual as all official Macallan were sherried these times. Sometimes Macallan sales reps claimed during these times that Macallan produces sherried malts only - which was a shameless lie (among many others). Macallan ever matured significant parts of its production in bourbon casks but these casks were simply never marketed as Macallan (they all went into the Famous Grouse blend, where Macallan is probably THE most important ingredient). Only after sherry casks became more and more expensive (because of the Scotch whisky industry spent millions of pounds to convince all the wine-drinking countries to switch to whisky instead of wine, e.g. Spain and subsequently the sherry sales / production collapsed) the Macallan marketing people offered the FIne Oak series in addition. And guess why they could do so on the spot: The warehouses were full with bourbon-matured Macallan casks...
Okay, let's forget history and have that nice little dram. Most people rate an old Macallan significantly lower if it is not sherried (see as an example https://www.whiskybase.com/whisky/10019/macallan-1963-ca ). I think this is because of the old Macallan marketing mantra "Only a sherried Macallan is a real Macallan". But usually the sherry masks all the very nice flavour profile of the malt and just the strongest, heaviest aromas shine through. Here you can experience all of the real Macallan malt profile that is nutty, spicy and creamy. Really nice, especially after adding some water (not too much, just a few drops).
It has a nice, coating consistency on the palate and a remarkably finish. I like this one, especially when keeping in mind that is has matured for just 12 years only. But the stated price here on WB is ridiculous, I paid less than one fifth of that when I bought this bottle at the end of the nineties....