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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
- 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.