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Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak


5 982

@OdysseusUnboundReview by @OdysseusUnbound

9th May 2019


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I've often jeered at THE Macallan because of the ridiculous circus side-show that goes hand in hand with the brand, but many have assured me that this is the no-nonsense entry level Macallan that could give me a snapshot of what the distillery is about. Now to be fair, I enjoyed the Rare Cask and even the Sienna, but I would never have paid the asking price for either of those whiskies. This one is available for $60 USD near my parents' place in Florida, but I'm loath to ask them for a bottle without trying it first. I'll do my best to remain objective, focus on the whisky, and ignore the marketing nonsense.

This sample was graciously provided by @Nozinan The bottle was opened June 9/2018, and was 2/3 full when the sample was poured on Dec 2/2018

Tasting notes

  • Nose (undiluted): a bit of spirity astringency, raisins, dates, walnuts, brown sugar, orange zest
  • Palate (undiluted): easy arrival, light-bodied, not as rich as I expected from the nose, more raisins, becoming a bit sharp, like balsamic vinegar
  • Finish: medium length, brown sugar, walnuts, oak spices (cloves, cinnamon), a little mint at the tail end turning to bitter wood tannins. Not a dealbreaker, but a little more bitterness at the end than I usually prefer.

Adding water brings aromas of red grapes and oak. It feels a bit fruitier and not quite as sweet with water added. The bitter wood tannins are more pronounced on the finish with water added though. So the nose and palate are better with water, but the finish is better neat. I believe that's what you call a conundrum.

Nevertheless, this feels like a pretty straightforward sherried malt. It’s well-balanced, pleasant, but not extraordinary. It doesn't have a massively wide range of flavours. I guess you could call that "balanced". I feel like it might be an ideal "background" whisky but I don't feel like this is a star in its own right. I'm surprised by how light (watery?) it was, and I don't think it's just a function of the ABV, since Glendronach 12 and Benromach 10 both feel richer than this Mac at the same ABV %. This Macallan 12 is not as rich or even as complex as most bottles of Glendronach 12 I’ve tried, but my experience with that malt is more extensive than it is with this one sample of Macallan. I would be open to trying this malt again, since every experience is just a snapshot in time, but given that Macallan 12 would cost me the same $$ as Glendronach 12, I can't see myself buying a bottle. However, I remain grateful to @Nozinan for his generosity in giving me the opportunity to try one of the best-known single malts on the market.

Related Macallan reviews


Nozinan commented

Thanks for that thorough review.

I would be insulted by that score if it were a sample of one of my prized Bladnochs, or an Amrut that I was crazy about.

This is THE Macallan. I have no emotional investment. I think the CS is excellent. I think this one is quite good. But not like the CS. I haven't had any in a while. If time permits I will try to revisit it.

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nozinan When I first nosed it, I honestly thought I’d like it more than I did. The nose is lovely and pleasant, though not life-changing. But texture is important for me, and that bitter wood tannin thing on the finish didn’t sit right with me. Of course it could be because of something I ate yesterday, the humidity of my living room or a whole host of other factors. Like I said, I’m more than willing to eventually revisit this one.

4 years ago 0

paddockjudge commented

It would be quite the rigmarole to explain the significance of conundrum (@conundrum or @rigmarole) here on Conosr. Interesting choice for a review title.

It just goes to show, the divergence in taste; Macallan is, if nothing else, polarizing. I'm not surprised you don't like Macallan 12 YO, you tend to enjoy less sherry in your malts.

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

Nozinan commented


Tasting it tonight I agree with a lot of what you've said. I get prunes where you get raisins, but I think we experience this similarly.

Scores for the same whisky on the same palate will vary day by day. I think I would score it higher than an 82, but I don't think I would rate it the 89 I gave when I wrote my review.

4 years ago 2Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@Nozinan I chose to taste this one yesterday because I've been eating very bland food lately (on purpose, for reasons that are irrelevant here)...I wanted to come to this Mac 12 with a clean palate because I'm aware of my bias against the big marketing machine of this brand. I did my best to keep that side of my brain out of it. And I really did think I would like it a lot more based on the nose. But I stand by my evaluation. That's not to say a different batch or even a tasting on a different day would yield the same result. I'm no whisky expert, but I know enough to know that there are too many factors at play for a single tasting of a whisky to be the first and last word. But @paddockjudge is right: I'm not a huge fan of heavily sherried malts.

4 years ago 2Who liked this?

casualtorture commented

I enjoy Mac 12 at 43%. To me it's one of the better choices in entry level 12yo whisky. I'd take it over Glenfiddich 12, Glenmorangie 12 Lasanta, and Glenlivet 12 for sure. But, I haven't had the Glendronach which I've heard from multiple people, including you, is very good.

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@casualtorture Like I said, maybe it was just my palate that day, or my particular taste buds, but there are a lot of whiskies I’d get for the equivalent of $80 CAD before this Mac 12. Glendronach 12, Tomatin 12, Glenfarclas 12, Glenfiddich 15, Aultmore 12, and even Johnnie Walker Green 15 Year. This one was just not my bag.

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

RianC commented

@OdysseusUnbound - I can see you've tried to be fair here but yet again I read a Macallan review that is less than stellar.

This is £70 and @40% in the UK. I mean . . . that's almost the price of two Glendronach 12s!

4 years ago 1Who liked this?

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