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The Macallan distillery was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and was operated from the original buildings of Macallan farm. At the time it was named Elchies distillery after a nearby estate. The distillery changed ownership a number of times during its early days and stability came only when Roderick Kemp took control in 1892; under Kemp the distillery was renamed Macallan-Glenlivet. The Kemp family retained control of Macallan until 1994 when it was sold to a consortium of the Japanese Suntory Group and the Highland Distillers Group. In 1999 the distillery became part of the Edrington Group who are the current owners (excepting the 25% share held by Suntory). In 1980 the distillery’s name was changed to Macallan and the decision was taken to concentrate on producing premium quality single malt whisky rather than whisky for blending purposes. Many in the whisky trade thought this was a mistake but as we all know the decision has proved to be a great success. The current 12-year old Sherry Cask expression, bottled at 40% ABV, was first released in 2004 and has been a part of Macallan’s core range ever since.
The nose is rich and voluminous, distinct sherry flavours engulf you from the very beginning. There are prunes, raisins, dried apricots and touches of orange peel. Hints of caramel and vanilla combine with wood spice. Sheer pleasure!
The palate is surprisingly light, sweet, but also a tad spicy. Distinct sherry notes are followed by caramel, fudge, and cinnamon. Wood spice kicks in at the end. Overall perhaps a bit too light.
The finish is of medium length, sweet and oaky. Sherry notes appear again, this time alongside caramel and some milk chocolate.
I had not tasted this in a while and had forgotten how very drinkable this is. While the nose is superb, the palate might have benefited from a slightly higher ABV. Bless me I don’t know the older versions from the 1990ies that were bottled at 43%! All in all this is a super well-balanced whisky and arguably one of the best 12-year old single malts currently out in the market.