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L’Chaim! Or, Loch Chaim - To Your Health! An Independently Bottled Macallan 18.

A friend just send me the below image. As he writes “For $108, it better fast FOR me next Yom Kippur!”

Mazel Tov!Macallan 18, from the mythical scottish lake, Loch Chaim

Aside from the yucks that this bottle gives us, I’m actually thinking Macallan 18 for $105, not bad.  I can read that it’s one of 300 bottles, and “A Heavenly Inspired Selection of Single Cask, Single Malt Scotch Whisky”

Mazel tov, indeed!


Tagged: #Macallan

40 Whiskies Under $40: Macallan Fine Oak 10 Years Old

The Macallan is a brand that is no stranger to either the whisky novice or the whisky expert.  And with good reason; Macallan has a long history of making some delicious liquids.  We’ve done a tasting of Macallan here before, and WhiskyParty found that The Macallan 18 accomplished a perfect marriage of smokiness and creaminess.  That perfect marriage costs over $150.  The ability to include a Macallan whisky in a 40 under $40 post feels like an accomplishment in itself; The Macallan name is almost synonymous with luxury and quality.

You don’t have to look far for examples of that association -  The Macallan is the whisky that went into the World’s Most Expensive Cocktail in Dubai’s Burj Al Arab.   It is a whisky that comes in Lalique crystal.  It is even a whisky which can randomly advertise/partner with Panerai watches on The Macallan Website and almost succeed in not looking too ridiculous (almost).

The Macallan Fine Oak series was created in 2004 and comes in 10, 15, 17, 21, and 30 year expressions.  Very distinct from the more widely known sherried Macallans, the Macallan Fine Oak is triple cask matured in a combination of European sherry oak casks, American sherry oak casks, and American bourbon oak casks.

The Macallan 10 Fine Oak

ABV: 40%
 Medium, very slow and clingy.
 Crystallized light gold.
Nose: Vanilla, oak, banana. Not necessarily the best nose, but a good light whisky nose.
Taste: Lots of wood and malt. The vanilla from the nose stays away at first though the bananas are still there, sweeter. There are also some berries present.
Finish: Short, puckering and at first drying. Spices become evident and then the vanilla creeps in with more of that hint of berries that then get the juices flowing.  It’s sweet and tasty yet over too soon.
Overall: Macallan 10 Fine Oak is just that - a fine, oaky whisky. It’s not great by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a good and decent whisky that though enjoyable to drink, just doesn’t overwhelm you with its charms.  It’s pretty interesting that you can taste the influence of both wood types (bourbon with the vanilla and sherry with the bananas and the berries).  When it comes down to it, perhaps the whisky is just still a bit young and needs more time to get some better flavors out of the wood - I remember really liking the Macallan 15 Fine Oak when I tried it, and everyone seems to love the Fine Oak 17.

So, this is a perfectly good whisky, and something nice to have on your shelf if you want to have a Macallan but don’t want to drop more money for the Fine Oak 15 or even twenty more dollars for the Macallan 12 (which is absolutely delicious). It’s just not the most standout whisky you can buy for under $40.

Other Opinions

  • John Hansell also finds the short finish with spice.  He gives it an 83 and wishes it were bottled at a higher ABV like its older brethren.
  • Review on the Rocks thinks it’s a “must buy” but doesn’t dive too deep into his notes other than saying that the nose is complex.  Proceed with caution on that review.
  • Some of the Finer Things got the sweetness but picked up some smokiness I didn’t find.  There was a claim made of Macallan bias, and that bias got the whisky a 9/10.
  • Connosr user ratings range from 7 to 8 with general agreements on the fruit, oakiness and vanilla.
  • The Whisky Exchange user comments are a little bit all over the place, but they carry the official tasting notes which mention the heather and fruits that others found.
  • The Boys of Bourbon (great name!) approve of the whisky with its subtly sweet taste.



Tasting Notes: The Macallan 18

Beloved by collectors, and found on the shelf of every bar - from local dives to high-end restaurants - there are few names in single malt whisky bigger than The Macallan.

Legally distilling since 1824, The Macallan is a Speyside malt known for it’s big, creamy, and sherried whisky.  The creaminess and rich flavors come from the unusually small stills in which the whisky is distilled, and a direct gas heating method (rather than indirect steam heating employed by many distilleries) that caramelizes the malt.  The sherry, of course, comes from the oloroso sherry casks in which much Macallan is aged.

A recently launched range of “Fine Oak” Macallan - aged in Spanish and American oak casks - is becoming more common. On the more expensive side, Macallan also has an extensive “fine and rare” vintage range, and a newly launched “1824” range is available exclusively in travel retail.  On the cheaper side, The Macallan is also one of the primary single malts in the very popular Famous Grouse Blend.

This Macallan is an 18 year old aged in oloroso sherry casks from Jerez, Spain.  It is made from whiskies distilled in 1990 or earlier.

The Macallan 18 Year (Sherry Cask)

ABV: 43%

Color: Deep caramel brown.

Nose: Sherry sweetness and spice, creme brulee.

Taste: The sherried sweetness and some spice carry over from the nose.  The whisky is big and creamy.  A delicate, charred smokiness permeates the dram.  More like a wood smoke than the coal smoke of Islay whiskies.

Overall: The big, creamy taste that The Macallan is famous for, with an added layer of complexity from the delicate charred smokiness.  I love smoky whiskies, and I love the big creaminess of the Macallan.  This is a perfect marriage of the two.  If it wasn’t $150 a bottle, this would be my go-to whisky.  For now, it will have to be a Christmas treat.

Other Opinions:

  • The Accidental Hedonist rated it highly, and found cinnamon - an official tasting note I couldn’t find.
  • The guys at Edinburgh whisky liked it so much their notes are almost NSFW.
  • Whisky Fun doesn’t have notes on the 1990 distillation, but he graded a Macallan 18 from 1989 at a 91.
Tagged: #Macallan

It’s been quiet here (and across the whisky blogs) over the holidays, but things are about to pick up again beginning tomorrow.  In the meantime, I thought I’d post a few pictures from my Christmas, and relay some information on what to expect here at Whisky Party in the next few weeks.

First, here’s a look at the whisky I picked up this holiday.

That’s a Kilkerran (Work in Progress), Macallan 18, McCarthy’s Peated Oregon Single Malt (3 years old), and two bottles of Tuthilltown Single Malt from a barrel that myself, StrongLikeCask, DodgyDrammer, and a bunch of our friends all went in on.  They say “New York Whiskey,” but the bottles are filled with single malt.  All-in-all, the barrel yeilded 23 bottles in the standard Tutthilltown size of 375 mL per bottle:

So a good whisky Christmas overall.


The Whisky Travels: Dubai and the Burj Al Arab, The Most Expensive Cocktail in the World

After London and the Stansted Airport, I went to Dubai. Dubai is a really, really, really, really interesting place. I was there not long after the article from the NYTimes about foreigners fleeing Dubai and leaving their cars abandoned at the airport. I actually researched trying to import a car back into the states (I pictured myself in a Maserati that I got for 10K), but alas, import taxes and the fact that there were no Maseratis for 10K kept me from having a car. So bicycles and mass transit are still the way I travel.

Notice the Similarities to TronTables at the Sky View Bar: Notice the Similarities to Tron

Regardless, after many meetings over the course of a few days, I went with some friends to the Sky View Bar at the Burj Al Arab. Before going to the Sky View Bar, we were told that we needed to make reservations, that we’d never get those reservations (we went on a Friday night), and that even with reservations, you need to pay a minimum of something like $40 in order to enter the bar.

Because Computer Circuitboards Exude ClassBecause Computer Circuitboards Exude Class

The bar is on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab, that hotel in Dubai that looks like a sail. Well, as the economy was going to the pooper, especially in a finance-based, debt-ridden, huge growth place like Dubai, getting reservations at the Sky View Bar, even on a Friday night at 8:30 PM, was not that difficult of a task for a bunch of unimpressive amateurs. Even more, after arriving at the Burj Al Arab, negotiating our entrance fee down to buying $15 worth of drinks per person wasn’t really all that difficult. In the illustrious words of Kurt Vonnegut, “So it goes.

The bar offers a few scotches, though not as great of a selection as I’d hope from the penthouse bar in what is billed as the “World’s Most Luxurious Hotel.” The bar looks like it could have been a staging area for Tron, and I was a little sad I did not bring my helmet or rollerblades. Not the type of place where if I were rich and famous I would like to hang. So while having a Ledaig 10 year old or four (a practical steal at $10 compared to other things on the menu) I took some pictures and contemplated the “World’s Most Expensive Cocktail" which is sold out at 27,321 Arab Emirated Dirham, or the equivalent of $7500 USD.

Too bad it's made with Macallan Whiskey instead of Macallan WhiskyThe World’s Most Expensive Cocktail: Too bad it’s made with Macallan Whiskey instead of Macallan Whisky

I copied and pasted the text from the menu below. I have a few issues with it. First, the entire menu is in capital letters, which is a little annoying. I saved you from this when I copied it out. Second, the menu continuously refers to the Macallan as whiskey, and not whisky (but I guess, so does the NYTimes). I would think that when charging $7500 USD for a drink, they might be able to run that by a few whisky experts before printing. Third, they’re offering a 55 year old Macallan (John Hansell’s Tasting Notes here). Something that is extremely rare, and they not only water it down with ice cubes (though I agree the Macallan distillery water is nice, but I refer you to the many debates in which WhiskyParty has taken part), but they also add bitters to it. They take something beautiful and change its flavor, consistency, and your ability to appreciate it. Poor form all around, even if Hansell only gave it a 74,

The text is below. And the remaining pictures of my trip to the Burj Al Arab (some other nice Macallan bottles they had on display) are below that. The cocktail, by the way, is named 27.321 because the bar is on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab, which itself is 321 meters tall.

The World’s Most Expensive Cocktail

This extraordinary creation is the world’s most expensive and exclusive adaption of the renowned “Old Fashioned Cocktail”, made with 55 year old Macallan single malt scotch whisky from the limited Lalique decanter “Natural Colour”. This precious whisky is stirred with “Dried Fruit Bitters”. produced exclusively for Burj Al Arab.

"27.321" was prepared with ice cubes, made of water from the Macallan Distillery and stirred with a piece of wood from the original sherry casks.

The cocktail was served in a baccarat 18 karat gold glass. The glass in its tailored leather box and a personal numbered certificate was issued for the limited drink to every of the ten buyers.

The first two drinks were sold on the 16th of April, two on the 8th of May and another couple on the 12th of July. The cocktail #7 was purchased on the 7th of August and the cocktail #8 on the 4th September. 27.321 #9 and #10 were sold on the 15th December 2008. The cocktail is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records 2009.

Savour the very last drops of this extraordinary and exclusive limited single malt whiskey and experience the marvel around the malt and the world’s most expensive cocktail.

Taken at the Burj Al Arab in DubaiTaken at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai
Taken at the Burj Al Arab in DubaiTaken at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai
Taken at the Burj Al Arab in DubaiTaken at the Burj Al Arab in Dubai

Quick Thoughts on the Macallan Twitter Tasting

A few quick (belated) notes about last night’s Macallan Twitter tasting at Eighty One. I would have posted  earlier, but today was a big work day and multiple, free glasses of Macallan 18 don’t really leave one in the proper condition to write blog posts at midnight.

  • Obviously all the whisky was fantastic, and the food pairings lived up to their Michellin-Star hype (except the asparagus flan, which didn’t complement the whisky).   All tasting notes - including my own - can be found using the #Macallan hashtag.  You can catch some pics and reviews from NOTCOT (who joined us “virtually”) and Live the Lush Life (who was also in attendance).
  • Very cool to see the Macallan ice-ball maker in action.  Less cool to have it in my glass (no pun intended).  Despite claims that it could chill a glass for 45 minutes, it melted pretty quickly.  Rather than function as a sipping glass throughout the tasting, it gave me an over-watered scotch within 10 - 15 minutes.
  • This was the youngest crowd I’ve ever seen at a scotch tasting.  Most people in the room looked under 35.  From what I understand, half the folks were drinks writers or bloggers, and half came from the culinary world.  That was really encouraging.  More kids these days need to realize scotch isn’t just their father (or grandfather)’s drink.
  • Also very cool that some folks from Mashable! were there (and making nice Simpson’s references in their comments/tweets).  Still waiting to see if they’re going to write about it on their site.
  • The PR folks really hit on a good idea here, and there are over 25 search pages on Twitter with the #Macallan hashtag as evidence.  This was no #skittles fiasco.  Seemed like lots of folks were following online, generating a decent amount of word-of-mouth PR for the brand.  Thanks to the younger, networked attendees, it also probably hit a much younger audience overall, which is great for Macallan as they try to excite a new generation of whisky drinkers.

In short, this was a grand-slam for Macallan.  Now I’m wondering when other distilleries will try something similar.  When they do, I hope I get another invite.

Tagged: #Macallan