Whisky Connosr

Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

Average score from 41 reviews and 143 ratings 84

Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

Product details

  • Brand: Macallan
  • Bottler: Distillery Bottling
  • ABV: 40.0%
  • Age: 12 year old

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Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak

Ah, the classic 12 years old Macallan on sherry oak… who does not long for the days when this was just a standard whisky? And the flagship of the distillery. Affordable and very good. The malt on which the distillery built its reputation. Tasted many times, but never put my thoughts to paper. Why? Thanks to my whisky buddy Patrick, I can now rectify that situation.

Silky soft nose with an intense fruitiness on all kinds of dark and overripe fruits. Try as you might, there is no way you are not going to like this.

More of the same on the palate. Good body, soft and sweet, almost feminine. Intense sherry notes, as if a drop of PX was added to my glass. Good balance, nice spiciness (vanilla, ginger) and great taste. Yes, this is actually complex indeed.

The finish… could have been a bit longer though. I accuse the ABV. But nice on cloves, orange peel and soft caramel. Mildly drying.

While 95 EUR is quite steep for a 12 years old whisky, this one is worth it. If it were bottled at 50%, I’d even pay 120 EUR for it. Thanks for the generous sample, Patrick!

A whisky I rated lower than the notoriously tough @markjedi1 !!?? What is this world coming to? stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye I’m only kidding. My notes are similar to yours on the nose, but I found the palate watery and disappointing after the lovely nose. And I believe the version I tasted was 43% abv. The finish was drying, but the sample I tasted also had a really off-putting bitterness on the finish. Oh well, nothing can please everyone, right?

Thanks @markjedi1 The classic 12 is about the only drinkable and affordable Macallan left, and it's getting hard to find. The 12 year old Double Cask they introduced last year pales by comparison.


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.

@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.

@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.


I owned a bottle of this while in China, and remember it being decent. A local store has it for $54usd+tax and I was willing to pay that for the same experience. I then realized that in the US, this is bottled at 43% abv, while the bottling in Asia is at 40% abv. I was then definitely willing! So I'm going to review this and then compare my notes and what I remember from my other bottle.

Bottle is 90% full and opened about a week.

Nose: Nutty and chocolatey. Hazelnuts covered in chocolate. Dark fruit (plums, black grapes), cocoa nibs, and brown sugar. It smells like ferrer rocher tastes!

Palate: More fruits and less nuts than the nose. Raspberry, blackberry, plums, dark grapes and baked gooey cherries, all surrounded by a layer of milk chocolate. Good strength of flavors for a low proof Speysider.

Finish: Brown sugar, baked cherries and hazelnuts linger for a short/medium length finish.

Overall: The biggest difference to me between this 43% version versus the 40% version are strength of flavors on the palate, which is what the 40% lacked. This is a very good product and a very good whisky, not just a name.

@casualtorture - Thanks for a great review! It's funny, it's the 40% and relative high prices that put me off buying Macallan. Such a shame we have it, and so many other malts, at the lower end of the abv scale.

Glad your enjoying this one, it sounds delicious.

@BlueNote I've owned a bottle of Glenmorangie 10 at 40%. It was OK but didn't blow my socks off. As with this Mac, it is bottled at 43% in the US. I'll have to get a bottle and do a comparison.


This is not my first review of Macallan 12. I did an “on the fly” review last year when I was on a trip to Boston, but the glass and atmosphere(a huge Bar Mitzvah party) were not really conducive to a proper in-depth review. It can be viewed here:


A long-time fan of high-powered whiskies, I was pleasantly surprised by this low ABV gem. Of course, it has not been available in Canada for a long time, and I had pretty much given up on the idea of owning a bottle (I tried and enjoyed a few pours of the 18 YO the next night, but that one would be out of my price range), but when @Victor was able to source a couple for me at just under $72 US (each) out the door, I jumped at the opportunity. Coupled with the sweet-talking expertise of @Paddockjudge to ensure there were no taxes at the border, this was a great acquisition.

Using the Highland Whisky Glass, this expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

I rarely comment on the appearance but after swirling around in the legs seem to last forever. The colour is a dark amber but I can’t say if it’s from the sherry casks or e150a.

Nose: 22.5/25

Rich nose for its 43% ABV. Initially I get a vegetal note but after a few minutes this tones down and I get dried fruits predominating. Prunes for sure. Heavy syrup, baking spices. This is a sherry bomb nose. Water gives it some higher pitched notes, like cherry, and a little leather. (23/25)

Taste: 21.5/25

Sweet sherry on the arrival. Slight alcohol nip. Some spices. Pepper, and slightly sour in the development. Water makes it bit more spirity but it settles down, and tones down the pepper. (22/25)

Finish: 21/25

Dry, astringent, fairly short. Less peppery and a little minty on the exhale with water. (21.5/25)

Balance: 22/25

The nose is a little more complex and richer than the palate but this is quite a full-flavoured whisky.

Score: Neat - 88 /100 With Water: 89.5/100

This was one of the first lower ABV Scotches to open my eyes and make me realize that they have a place in my cabinet. Benromach 10 was a pleasant surprise last year as well. Another I recently discovered, deep in my cabinet, was HP 12, which I hadn’t poured in several years. I took a chance by committing to 2 bottles after only tasting this at a party, and it looks like the gamble paid off.

I should note that I didn’t look at my previous review before writing my tasting notes this time, and they seem pretty consistent.

Macallan 12. If only it would come (back) to Canada…

Spot on review @Nozinan. The last one I got from Oregon was $49US. I’ll have my sister in law bring a couple up towards the end of this month. I think it’s up around $60 now, unless it’s on sale. Well worth it either way, and that extra 3% ABV makes a big difference.

@fiddich1980 That is good news. The Pole Dancer Series (thank you @MadSingleMalt) has been a disaster.


Macallan 12 YO. It's hard to believe I've had the 25 but I can't remember ever having tried the 12. It's long gone in Ontario, and I haven't seen it anywhere else in Canada. But what does a cask strength snob like me care about that?

So here I am in Boston and it's one of three Scotches offered at the bar in the dining hall I'm at. I have had and have access to the other 2 so it's a no-brainer. The first dram lasts me a good hour and a half so I get another, a 45 cc pour from the quickly emptying bottle, and while it's not the best glass, and not the best setting, I think I can get enough for a quick review.

The bottle was full when I had my first pour and about half full when I came back an hour and a half later. I added a few drops of water.

On the nose, definite sweet sherry, a mild vegetal note, maybe a hint of sulfur but nothing I mind. A hint of spice. 21.5/25

On the palate a little thinner than I'm used to, but not as I would expect from a 43% whisky. Sweet. Sherry. Spicy. Chocolate for sure. 21.5/25

The finish is quite long. After the last sip I could still feel its presence back in the hotel room. Sweet, slightly astringent. 22/25

Balance is wxcellent. The nose and palate complement each other. Good flavour for 43%. 22/25

Score: 87/100

This really surprised me. After having enjoyed cask strength sherry bruisers (not today) I was not expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. I hope this means that my palate is maturing and may be able to appreciate more subtle flavours.

I guess it also means I'll need to be more open to lower proof offerimgs in e future, if they are well-recommended...

I think the US and some parts of the world get 43% and the UK and some other parts of the world get 40%. Same goes for Laph 10 and several others.

Nice, about the same for me, I gave this one an 85. It's enjoyable and refreshing and easy to drink. Nothing too complex or interesting but what's there is nice. My bottle was only 40% though. Did you get lucky with an older one?


Macallan 12 yo Sherry Oak is matured exclusively in former Sherry casks. My thanks to @Maddie, who owns the reviewed bottle. The reviewed bottle is 60% full and has been open for at least one year

Nose: strong very fruity sherry with excellent sweet-dry balance. Sherry owns the malt, as expected, but very happily here. Score: 23/25

Taste: just perfect in the mouth, for sherried malt. There isn't much else to taste, but what do you expect from 100% sherry-oak matured malt? Yes, there is barley-malt, but the sherry owns it. This bottle rocks! Score: 23/25

Finish: stays much the same for a medium-long finish...lovely. Score: 22/25

Balance: very good in every respect. Score: 22.5/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 90.5 points


Strength: strong flavours, even at 43% ABV. Score: 22.5/25

Quality: splendid quality of the sherry flavours; the malt is fine too. Score: 23/25

Variety: enough...this is a sherry show; don't come here if that is not what you are looking for. Score: 20.5/25

Harmony: excellent harmony, of the wine flavours with each other and with the very back-seat malt. Score: 23/25

Total Non-Sequential Score: 89 points


Comment: OK, so why am I in my 440th Connosr review reviewing Macallan 12 Sherry Oak, for the very first time? Because this is far from my Macallan 12 Sherry Oak "first rodeo". I've had a few of them, and seen a good bit of variation among them. One had very noticeable wood influence. I liked that one a lot. One or two were just sherry without anything else, but with sherry not as tasty as this sherry. Those were my least favourite. What I want to express most here is this: Macallan 12 yo Sherry Oak has some significant batch variation, but I am very much hoping that my 3 unopened bottles of it taste exactly like this one which my sister owns! I can be very happy drinking this whisky and any which taste just like it, far into the future. This is the best Macallan 12 Sherry Oak which I have encountered

I believe that the different ABV is a USA thing and not an indication of the year. The same is true of Laphroaig 10yo by the way. I believe both are 40% in the UK and 43% in the USA.

The big test for age is the bottle shape. The newer bottle shape is taller while the older bottle shape is the “standard” scotch bottle (like Laphroaig but clear). I think they changed bottle design around 9-10 years ago.

@Victor, thanks for the review. Your sister’s collection is lovely. I would love to visit again. I am just amazed how many amazing bottles she has open at 90% full! How was that Johnnie Walker doing? I sincerely hope to get another taste before it is all gone . . . that bottle is haunting.

I also hope that your reserve bottles live up to this reviewed bottle. The variability of Macallan put me off some time ago. Macallan 10yo Cask Strength was one of my game-changer-whiskies around 2002. It began my love for cask strength whisky – big flavors whisky! Sadly, I quickly began to notice the variability predicted and called out by the late great Michael Jackson in his book because of Macallan’s change from Golden Promise Barley in 1994 to Optic and Chariot. So by the mid 2000’s I had more or less given up on Macallan. I have seen nothing since then to lead me to believe they have the interests of the consumer or of the product in mind. I am still amazed to see this 12yo sherry matured whisky on the shelf. Now there are plenty of No Age Statement Macallan’s up there with price tags well over $100. I don’t think so.

Because of your review (and the realization that age statements are dropping off labels almost monthly) I might just have to pick up a bottle of this 12yo for my bunker.

@Pierre_W, the mouthfeel from this bottle really was smooth and silky, and there was no sense of thinness in the body. When I tasted it I thought, "I've had some good Macallan 12 Sherry Oaks, but this is even better than I remember." The casks were also completely clean of sulphur, which is not something I can say of the bottle of 1991 Macallan 18 yo I had, or of some more recent Macallan special releases, e.g. Macallan Edition # 1.

My sister has a few old bottles hanging around her house, but most of them are not whisky. @Nock was floored, or, as he has been saying "haunted", when he had some Johnnie Walker Black Label over there that turned out to be the old 43.4% ABV stuff from about 1980, i.e. distillation dates in the late 1960s. So very very good, and so different from anything I've had from recent production. The wine element was big and very beautiful. Not something you associate with Black Label now, is it?


Nose is wonderful, with sweet dark cherry, vanilla, and sherry wine.

The palate is a letdown though. I get a bit of chocolate and raspberry. But it's not that pronounced and the flavors are somewhat weak. It's very smooth and drinkable though. Just, boring. Needs more.

The finish however is fantastic. Long and spicy, with a drying oak. The sweetness stays in your mouth for minutes.

This would be a nice everyday kind of scotch. Smooth and sweet, if kind of boring on the palate. But the nose and finish almost make up for it.

I see a lot of batch variation in Macallan 12 Sherry Oak. At its best, it is pretty wonderful. Sometimes it is monotone, though, and can be dull. Sure, we'd all like to see this amped up 5-10% in ABV.

Yeah if this was bumped up to say 46% or somewhere around there then it would be great. Then again wouldn't they all be better at cask strength? Lol. But this macallan isn't bad I would consider it again. I have Talisker 10yo arriving soon so we'll see. Talisker is much cheaper so if it's better than this macallan then I'll have an easy choice on a repeat purchase.


This is where I would start anyone new to Scotch. It isn't too expensive, but it has a great amount of flavor and complexity not present in cheaper offerings like Glenfiddich 12.

Nose: very soft. Definitely some ginger, with a strong presence of sherry, vanilla, and a little bit of butter.

Taste: a nice gentle peat flavor. Hints of chocolate, honey, spice and vanilla but mostly a strong presence of red wine.

Finish: not exceedingly long but smooth as far as Scotch goes.

I have not bought a Macallan for a couple of years now. I had a badly sulphured 18 that was very expensive and the last 12 I bought had a quite bitter edge in the dried fruit part of the finish. I have to agree with @Jules, the GlenDronach 12 is better whisky and better value. I'd also recommend the BenRiach 12 yr. old sherry matured and the BenRiach 15 yr. old Pedro Jimenez finish as cheaper, better alternatives to the Mac 12. Each to his own though, only you know what you like and we value your input here. Cheers.

I disagree. I think that overall scores on this site are unnecessarily low. I use the 7-good 8-great 9-amazing 100-masterpiece scale. I don't think a 100 should be unattainable, because in the upper echelon of superb whisky, it eventually just comes down to preference. I think the Macallan 12 is great for what it is so I don't feel like an 84 is too high of a score.


Nose: Sweet berries, spices, chocolate syrup, caramel, oak.

Palate: Deep berries like strawberries, raspberry syrup over chocolate cake with layers of chocolate mousse, exactly like PF Changs' Wall of Chocolate dessert. Medium bodied, spices, honey, caramel, a touch of papaya and molasses, cashews.

Finish: Medium to long, cake dough, confectioners sugar.

This is a fine dram indeed. It's refined and elegant--very well balanced. It plays it safe, it doesn't want to create wake. Is there such thing as too well balanced? This would be above 90, if it was non-chilled filtered,46% abv.


Ah, Macallan 12 Sherry. I’d wager that this is the most popular whisky here in Taiwan. But I don’t buy it too often. Why? Well, I feel it should be stronger and more affordable. This costs slightly more than most introductory 12 year olds with higher abvs, and I may hold that against them a little bit. But all that aside, it’s still a decent dram. Let’s get to it.

Nose: Classic Macallan sherry. Sweet, dry, spicy, woody, and musty. Chocolate, barley, grass, hay, oak, nutmeg, dates, maple, caramel, and berry jam.

Palate: Light and watery. Chocolate, amaretto, maple, roasted nuts, nutmeg, musty oak, sour milk, tiramisu, and rum balls.

Finish: Woodspice, amaretto, roasted pecans, milk chocolate, dates, leather, oak, molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Short, but pleasant and complex.

Thoughts: Well it’s no heavyweight, but it is rich and balanced. The profile is quite singular; it’s sweet, musty, and a bit charred. The sherry and wood notes suggest quality casks were used. The nose is lovely, but the arrival/development is weak. The finish is interesting, but not as powerful as it could/should be. The quality shines, but it’s handicapped by its 40%. This would be fantastic if they turned up the volume to 46% or higher. As it is, it’s a very pleasant dram, but not substantial enough.

@Victor, I haven't heard anything about Mac 12 Sherry being pulled in Taiwan. I assume we'll still have it here, as it is EXTREMELY popular with locals. But it's hard to say what stays and what goes. The economics of whisky escapes me for the most part.

I also hadn't had this in ages. So long in fact that I can't comment on any batch variation. As for this bottle, I find it to have a lovely balance. In fact it's a gorgeous whisky. I often whine about low abv whiskies, and of course most of them would be better at a higher percentage. But I feel that this one in particular would be GREAT if they beefed it up. Such a shame.

Well, I haven't had much Macallan 12 Sherry Oak in a very long time, but I went out and bought 2 bottles of it (and was gifted a third) a few months ago after they had announced that it was being discontinuted. Does Taiwan get an exception-to-policy on Mac 12 Sherry Oak discontinuance, as it did for Johnnie Walker Green Label? Local Taiwanese popularity seemed to do the trick for Johnnie Green.

I've found Mac 12 Sherry Oak rather variable batch to batch. Some batches are balanced and very nice, others just taste of sherry and have no balance.


I was ffortunate to receive a bottle of Macallan 12yo sherry cask from my father-in-law for Xmas. Although I gave it a very low rating a couple of years ago, I'm hoping that my palate has matured and I'll be able to appreciate its character the second time around, because I have an entire lovely bottle to drink!

Nose: old, soggy wood and sherry. Slight whiff of chocolate covered cherries after about ten minutes of breathing. The oak is starting to smell more crisp as time goes by.

Taste: thin mouth feel, not as bitter and astringent as I remember it being. Tiny little taste of honey and butterscotch followed by a long, mellow peppery finish.

This simple, easy to drink dram is still not quite my cup of tea, but I definitely got a bum sample last time. I can see where it could be a good way to introduce a newbie to scotch, especially if they're looking for something unpeated and non threatening.

I see you got stuck with a 40% abv bottle. That alone will contribute much to 'thin mouth feel'. The last of the Macallan 12 Sherry Oak around here is still 43% abv.

I had never bought myself a bottle of Mac 12 Sherry Oak until I learned that it was being discontinued. Those I have tasted in the past have varied a good bit, between 1)balanced and nuanced, on the one hand, and 2)nothing to taste but sherry, on the other. The balanced ones I much prefer.

@BlueNote, I completely agree with you that most Macallan has become ridiculously expensive...and I am paying nothing like Canadian prices for it.

Thanks for the review. I'm not sure about the most recent 12 yr. old sherry oak because it has completely disappeared from the shelves here, and I know nothing about all those multi-thousand dollar fancy-assed Macallans with famous photographers and other irrelevant crap on the labels, but I do know the current batch of core range NAS Macallans are overpriced and, for the most part, suck until perhaps you get up to spending a few hundred on the higher end ones I wouldn't know and probably never will because I am boycotting Macallan for the foreseeable future. Cheers.


I've been dying to do a side-by-side of the 12 Year Old and the Amber. And hey - now's as good a time as any!

My understanding is that the age statement Sherry Oak whiskies are being phased out (everywhere except in Asia, I think), to be replaced by the NAS 1824 Series bottles. So this 12 Year Old is nigh impossible to find in North America any more - apparently. If anyone wants to correct me on that, please feel free...

The colour is a deep, rich, coppery gold. On the nose, it's all sherry, sherry and more sherry, which (unlike the Gold) shows no trace of sulphur. It almost overwhelms the delicate barley sugar, but not quite. Medium dark chocolate, old leather, cinnamon and a basket of mixed fruit (dates, raisins, papaya and green apples). Water exposes the spirit a little more, but not by much. Exactly what you would expect - beautifully done but unsurprising.

The palate leans more toward the dates and raisins, with more spices (nutmeg, chili) and oak. Light chocolate notes, and obviously, tons of sherry. Silky, delicate mouthfeel. Water does a bit more to the palate than to the nose, upping the spice a bit. Straightforward, elegant and delicious.

The short-to-medium length finish has some cherrywood smoke, with gentler spices and a bit more oak. I do love this whisky but I can't score it above 90 (Mr. Murray gives it a 93, by the way) only because there is such a sensible straightforwardness to it, rather than more complexity. I'm not sure that is necessarily a bad thing - it's a fantastic malt, easy to drink and very satisfying. Maybe I'd score it higher if there was a bit more oomph to it, but who knows? If you can find it, grab it.

@talexander, I have bottles of all of those too. I bought them because I like to drink them. I certainly expect to drink them.

Comment on Jim Murray's "93" rating: he also said in that same review that he'd recently had some batches which disappointed him. I've seen a lot of variation in Macallan 12 Sherry Oak over the years. That is part of the reason why I've never before bought a bottle of it. Some batches/bottles have a great balance. Others show nothing but sherry. 'Nothing but sherry' works a lot better with Macallan Cask Strength than it does for Macallan 12 yo Sherry Oak.

@talexander I enjoyed your back to back comparison tastings. Your review really does highlight the differences and loss for the whisky enthusiast the phasing out of these aged expressions over the NAS core range. Recently the NAS range is appearing on shelves here in Sydney and the aged range are not being restocked.

@Victor with many distilleries releasing a NAS expression to their core range, I'm sure the bean counters are paying attention to sales to see if they can replace aged expressions. I've noted that the new Laphroaig Select is more expensive than the 10 yr and the new Macallan entry level NAS range is more expensive than the Fine Oal 12 yr. They are flogging off younger stock at a higher price.


Reviews of Macallan 12 yo Sherry Oak are all over the map, and so are my experiences with it. I’m either underwhelmed by its too-sharp tannins and younger-than-its-years booziness, or I’ve enjoyed its nicely rich sherry/malty/fruity sweetness. Maybe it depends on the neutrality of my palate. This is my first dram of the night after not having eaten in more than four hours, and it tastes especially good. Let’s capture it at its best.

(I often try to provide a bit of history and/or practical information in my reviews. But this is Macallan, or The Macallan if you prefer. One of those distilleries whose history goes back nearly as far as Gilgamesh. Let’s keep this of reasonable length, after all. And don’t get me started on their recent NAS bottlings. They have pretty colors; that’s all I’ll say.)

Review based on my third dram from a new bottle. I finished my previous bottle last week, and I don’t notice more than a negligible difference between the two. Bottle age doesn’t seem to be a factor with this one. Sampled with just a teeny drop of water.

Nose: Those sherry casks from Jerez, Spain were worth the investment. If you like sherry, this is textbook. There’s also loads of oak, maple, and vanilla, with a touch of raisins and bananas. A ten-minute rest allows some serious spearmint to emerge. Flowers and apples come and go. No complaints about this nose.

Palate: A slight letdown. Very neutral, watery arrival, although things improve as it develops. Sultanas, tannins, young oak wood, a little chocolate and cinnamon, and pancakes that could use another little drizzle of maple syrup. A 12-year-older that could use another two years. It’s fine…but that’s the best I can say for it.

Finish: A little short, but an excellent rebound nonetheless. Peppery spices, smoke, tobacco, all wrapped in chocolate, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Oh, for another 10 seconds.

A good whisky on the verge of excellence. Just a little more length and dimension would push things into the 90s. As it is, it’s a reliable cabinet staple that most of us know well.

Did the label say anything specific about the casks? I noticed no my Mac CS that the casks didn't technically mature sherry, they just were filled with Sherry for 2 years then used to mature the spirit.

@Nonzinan - Front and back labels say "Exclusively matured in select sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain for a minimum of 12 years." I believe the CS has been discontinued, no?


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.

Thanks, @Pierre_W for a great review. I especially enjoyed the historical information about the distillery.

The various samples of Macallan 12 Sherry Oak I've had have varied quite a lot. Some are well balanced great malts, and I experienced those rather similarly to the way you have experienced yours. Others have just showed rather one-dimensional heavy sherry, and I found them boring. At its best, Macallan 12 YO Sherry Oak is a whisky about which I can easily get enthusiastic, and would rate similarly to the way you have rated it in this review. Cheers!

Hi @mct, to be honest I don't know the Glenfarclas 12yo too well. I believe I tried it only once and appreciated it as a solid and honest ex-sherry cask matured whisky. The Macallan 12yo is unique, I think, for the silkiness on the tongue and the rich and super lush nose that belies its tender age.


...in my opinion. Or it may just be that I'm not as fond of sherry monsters as I thought. Because it's all sherry, here -- with toffee and cranberries in the nose, along with earthy wet blossoms. There's a sharp burst of fruit on the palate -- maybe a bit too sharp -- then it mellows to honey and sherry. The finish is long and spicy.


NOSE: obviously sweet sherry and muscat grapes notes( muscat dessert wine) with a bit of floral nature to it. TASTE: marmalade with citrus and of course sweet sherry. FINISH: medium-length but rather decent and grapy. OVERALL IMPRESSION: a dram that people who never tried whisky would describe right away like "smells like sweet grapes".

I would 2nd the Glenfarclas 15 yo as being far superior, in both quality and value, to the Macallan 12. The Glenfarclas is more of a "rich/heavy" sherry profile, rather than the sweet sherry of the Macallan.

I recommend you try Glenfarclas 15 year. Can you get that in Russia? If so, a great bargain.


On the nose, sherry and caramel predominate. Doesn't seem so complex but it's nice. Not in a hurry to get past this to the drink.

On the tongue, caramel again and the oak comes through, not as sweet as the nose suggests but very smooth.

Finish doesn't linger long. There's a nice burn. Very approachable.

Interestingly the bottle is about 2/3 empty and has been open for a couple years, but I find I've been enjoying it more as it goes. Won't be so easily replaced anyway, so all the better.


As you can see from my profile, anything that I rate below 70 is something I find to be downright repulsive. However, since many of you like this one, it is not fair for me to go below 68 on my rating for this one as well as other good malts that do not appeal to me. This would only lower the overall rating if I did such a thing. Only two blends that I have tried deserve a rating at 30 or below, which is stuff that I would not even give to a homeless person.

So why did I almost give this one back to the bar? It was just too thick and sweet for my tastes. Since this was a bad first try with Macallan, I would be very hesitant to try anything else from them. If you like it, then I respect this to keep my rating from getting ridiculously low.


nose (neat) grapes, cherries, soft floral scent

taste (neat) light, oily, wood, slight bitterness

nose (water) wood, cloves

taste (water) thin, bland, tastes like sake


There was a time when I remember wanting to drink only Sherry influenced whiskies and this expression was the reason why.

The nose is pretty much in perfect harmony. Big, fat, juicy, red grapes covered in sugar, sprinkled with black pepper, dipped in caramel and then dusted with dark chocolate are presented to you on a silver platter. A final nose brings out the beautiful wooden sherried oak that makes this nose what it is.

Like most Macallan's I've tasted the liquid is pure velvet. Burnt toast with black pepper and tiny cloves is the first thing to greet you. This is followed by the unmistakable taste of charred orange rind. Finall the palate is wrapped in a swirl of caramel, jaggery and a hint of roasted nuts.

The lovely long finish with it's dry clove and nuts feels quite mature for it's twelve years.

Pour your self a dram, sit back and relax. It's going to be a long night.

This is an old favorite that I also haven't had in quite a while, not since significantly expanding my palate into Islay malts and more expensive sherries. I'm curious how it will hold up when I come back around to it. It doesn't seem like Macallans receive much love on this board, but in the first phase of my Scotch-drinking career, this was the best bottle under $50 in my book.

I'm a sherry freak and I agree. Very sherry, but with more of a 'roasted' edge that isn't always present in other sherried whiskies. Haven't had it in ages... this makes me want to go out and grab another bottle!


This is the first time trying any of the The Macallan's lineup. When I popped the cork I got a full nose of scents. Very sweet smelling, caramel, fruity, and smoky wood. The taste: rich and smooth, very woody, spicy spices, dried fruit and the sherry is very prominent. The finish is warm and smooth. The sherry sticks with you...There is a slight bitterness followed by a lasting sweet.


Review is from a 50 mL miniature bottle I purchased.

I've had Macallan 12 a couple times but have never bought a full bottle. Last time I had it was a couple years ago, and I must say, this is not the whisky I remember (whether memory or whisky has altered, I do not know).

Nose: Much less sherry than I remember; more overripe banana, floral, vanilla. It reminds me of Glenmorangie... which is weird because Glenmo is a bourbon-cask whisky. There definitely are vinous/sherry notes, but they don't jump out like I thought they might. Also there is plenty of oak on the nose... overall quite nice! The vanilla/banana/oak combo does remind me a bit of bourbon, but the nose isn't bourbony overall.

Palate: Sweet, good body, hot from the oak. Vinous sherry. Grapes. Somewhat syrupy.

Finish: Hot oak on the mouth and sweet sherry on the tongue. Some banana.

So you can see from the notes that I get the most complexity from the nose. Overall, this is nice whisky. Nothing is off, it has "forward" flavors, and good body. The sherry is so well integrated it is truly a part of the whisky, but this does actually say "highland scotch" more than I expected: I just expected "sherry."

Overall, I still can't imagine dropping $50 on a bottle of this whisky. There isn't anything wrong with Macallan - it's the style. You get sweetness, hot oak, and no peat... sounds like bourbon. I can get good bourbon for cheaper, and I will. I'll spend the big bucks on scotch that brings something different from bourbon: peat. It is pretty good though...

Thanks for a nice review, @valuewhisky. It is tricky to review from a small sample because you really only get one shot at it, and can't go back and check your impressions at another time. I've done quite a few reviews from limited samples too, because often that is all that one might have available.

It is good that you gave contrast to prior experience with the Macallan 12. My experience with Macallan 12 is that it is rather batch variable. I have had some which was subtle and complex, and other samples of it which just gave me sherry, sherry, and more sherry. I much prefer the complex version, but would have little confidence that that is what I would get if I were to buy a 750 ml bottle of it. So I don't buy a bottle of it, but I am happy to re-try it whenever someone else is offering it to me, just to see in which direction the flavours of the latest bottle lean.

@Victor, very interesting! I would have thought that Macallan with a huge output and loyal following would be very consistent. I guess there's just no beating batch variation. Something to always keep in mind when judging a whisky based on one tasting or bottle.


All Scotch aficionados know Macallan and I've nothing to add other than the following recommendation. I live in a consistently hot environment and do not like to dilute most Scotch flavor with ice, nor do I carry chilling stones to a restaurant. I have developed a simple method to maintain a proper chill of my whiskey. I order Scotch in a snifter or even glen cairn glass as well as a rocks glass with ice on the side. Decant your drinking water into the rocks glass and nest the tilted snifter in the mouth of the glass. Give it a spin and let it chill to your preference. That's the McNamara method. I've been chilling like this for years and have never failed to have remarks of incredulity and uniqueness passed my way. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do. Vic McNamara


Let’s see…give me some sherry with sherry and an extra gallop of…hmm….sherry. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad but not great either…it is what it is…a sherry bomb with maybe some vanilla and little else. Just to one dimensional for me and not my thing, much better whisk(e)ys I feel at this price point. But if you like sherry..then by all means go for it..you’ll love it.

Agree To much sherry for me.

If your into sherry sherry scotch it might be a 90.


Nose: smooth, not a sherry bomb but a good dose of sherry on the nose, figs and raisins, roasted wallnuts and marmalade

Palate: sweet smooth sherry comes first, creaminess, chewy malts, dusting of cocoa, salted butter, caramel fudge, some citrus peels

Finish: Sherry sweetness, honeys, desert spice.


Nose: strong vanilla and a whole heap of classic sherry cask notes like almonds, a little cherry, chocolatey sweetness and oranges. A very gentle saltiness and something like toasted hazelnuts. This dram is ever so slightly oily and underpinned by a delicate wood-smoke that provides great contrast.

Palate: confirms the nose with vanilla, red berries, cinnamon spice and milk chocolate. Really good structure and very drinkable, the smoke holds well.

Finish: good, persistent smoke gives a long and dry finish that closes off the sumptuous mid-palate with aplomb.

Really good whisky this, and it goes down very easily indeed!


Nose: Classic sherry, lemon peel, caramel, a bit bready. Water really brings out these flavors. Water also pushes the caramel to the front. Not too deep, but quite enjoyable.

Taste: Sherried fruits, caramel corn, pound cake, blueberries. It lacks on the arrival. Rather vague.

Finish: Sherry oak and cane sugar. Sweet and decent.

This is a good whisky. It lacks complexity and can be a bit vague, but this makes for a good whisky to have when simply relaxing without paying too much attention. Overall, I prefer Macallan at an older age (the 18 year old from 1989 is great!), but this 12 year old is much, much better than the 12 year old Fine Oak Macallan. Recommended.


When I had my first SMSW tasting, one of the expressions was The Macallan 12 Fine Oak. Not overly impressed (because the tasting was accompanied by an HP18 that overshadowed everything else), the Fine Oak was not a bottle I wanted in the near future but it was a formidable intro to The Macallan brand.

I did however want and need a representative in my stash of the often mentioned "Sherry Bomb" that I kept reading about. There were so many choices, so many Macallan's, which to choose from?

Because of the sentimental attachment I had developed with The Macallan from my first tasting, and because of reviews I've read in this forum and in the Jim Murray 2011 Whisky Bible, the choice narrowed to The Macallan 12 YO Sherry.

  • Taste tested neat in a 12 oz. snifter, hand warmed and thought thru for approx. 30 minutes.

Nose: Macerated dried fruit and raisins, creamy caramels with of course sweet sherry on top of oak.

Palate: The sherry leads the way followed by sweet, fruity dessert tucked within a lightly oiled and smooth bite.

Finish: A somewhat sophisticated withdrawal as the sherry and oak slowly drift off as a little peppery burn follows with an even, slow fade.

Balance: Really an enjoyable dram with all the delicious flavors discovered and enjoyed from nose to finish.

This is a bottle to break out when with good company or when in the mood to retreat into self imposed solitary along with a good whisky book.


I had a 750ml bottle of Mac 12yr Sherry Oak last year, where I sampled it many times, never really "taking" to it. I ended up sharing it around quite a bit, giving away probably 2/3rds of the bottle. I never wrote a review on it, and frankly, I couldn't remember what it tasted like, or why I didn't really care for it. So, a year (and many malts) later, I picked up a 50ml miniature to re-taste it. Here are my notes:

The Macallan 12yr Sherry Oak is a whisky that has been exclusively matured in sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain for 12 years. It is bottled at 43%.

Nose: After pouring the dram, and before sitting down to write, I caught wafts of the nice sherry sweetness one would expect from a whisky matured 100% in sherry casks. Oh yeah... Sherry, honey, vanilla, hint of oak, and some hints of cinnamon.

Body: Pretty decent mouth feel. Medium.

Palate: Lightly sweet on the tongue. Brown sugar. Caramel. This is pretty good. Some spice coming out.

Finish: Long finish. Sherry comes back, but not intensely. Some spicy, peppery notes.

I am quite enjoying this dram. I am seriously considering buying a 750ml of this. It is good. I'm going to have to compare it more closely with my favorite sherried whiskies: Aberlour 12yr & 16yr. This bottle goes for around $45 in these parts, right in between the Aberlour 12yr and 16yr. This profile is one of my favorites: sweet & spicy.

It appears I am eating a bit of crow. The 12yr and 18yr were too subtle for me last year, but I am really enjoying this now.


This whisky is the best I have ever tasted. I am sure that I will change my mind several times since I am rather new to the world of whisky. Never the less, I bought this bottle at the Glenturret Distellery (The Famous Grouse Experience) in Scotland in October.

When I first opened the bottles and smelled the content, I was sure that it was an excellent whisky. The scent of candy, nuts and fruits in all variatins go well together. The finish has a slight hint of cinnamon.

All in all, an excellent whisky. Another bottle will be ordered as soon as this ones empty.

@Victor - I think you may be a bit disappointed with the 18y - not that you won't fully enjoy it BUT you will not enjoy it that much more than the 12y. In other words, IMHO, the extra 6y for this particular finishing did not seem to add a huge amount to the spirit (certainly relative to the triple price increase.... :-( ).

BTW - I tend to let my whisky open up by air rather than water - I don't have a problem letting them sit for an hour or even more. I found the Mac12 became nice and yummy after about two to three hours.... :-)

If you like the Mac 12yr that much, you are going to LOVE what else Scotch whisky has in store for you!


Quite a nice dram especially for the holiday season, big bold sherry flavors and aroma's with just the slightest hint of sulfur. But its full of nutty, fruity, and candy aromas and flavors.

To go with the full on candy effect the mouthfeel of the whisky is actually quite buttery. While the taste has hints of oak, nuts and toffee with a good helping of candied fruit.


Very good whisky. I drank two fingers with a single cube of ice and let it melt. Medium-bodied, low peat and floral accents. Very "hot" and the ice cube was much needed. Slight burn to it on the palate. Not a refined as some of your 18 years but a very good whisky.


Nose: Big sherry just i like. A classic Macallan! Sheer joy, Sultanas, plums, some orange peel as well, all very thick and luscious and syrupy. I like this one very very much.

Palate: Sweet stuff! Sultanas in liquor, some chocolate notes, plums, prunes, a real festivity of all dried fruit, sugar and some spice. Ace!

Finish: Long fruity (dried fruit remain for some time), with wee hints of cocoa.

In one word: Ace. a real gem of a dram.

I will not review the Macallan 18 as I've reviewed it in the past, but this time, it really did not strike me as that good. I think the problem was with the spirit, which was stored in a nearly empty bottle (as shown in the photo) which led to too much oxidization of the spirit, and loosing some flavours.


Color: Copper penny

Nose: Honey butter, oak, soft cherry fruit mingled with plum, undertone of fresh tobacco leaf.

Palate: Orange caramel, splash of hot sauce, poppyseed muffin.

Finish: Medium, hints of flan, with a bite of dried lemon peel and ginger.

A fine 12 year. Sweet with a depth of citrus and grape. It drinks well, if a little hot on the tongue. Good late summer dram if you prefer the medium-heavy malts.

@WmRamsey, well either they changed the formula, or you found a bad bottle, or you had a garlicky Greek gyros before your sampling ? You said it was a fine 12-year, but you gave it 1.5 stars ? Mac 12 is one of my favorite go-to malts, and IMO a good entry-level malt. But everyone's taste is unique ... just a little confused myself ... and now a bit worried about replacing my near-empty bottle.

@WmRamsey, well of course please disregard my comments. You can probably send a note to the Connosr Team, who can surely fix the error.


Sweet barley remains up front on the nose, quickly followed by fresh cut apple. After it's given a chance to open up, syrup, walnut, and nougat are noticeable. This is a smooth and subtly sweet scotch. Fresh wood is first on the palate, followed by the apple, grass, and a good amount of sherry. Not bad at all, especially when the sherry hits.

It's good, but nothing to get too excited about.


Macallan's 12-year sherry oak is pleasantly interesting. It has a non-offensive smoky nose with hints of dried fruit. Other aromas can be detected, but the prominent ones certainly dominate and hide the rest. A fairly complex flavor follows, led by a smoky taste that is balanced by the sweetness of the fruit that follows close behind. Very easy to drink. The smoke slightly overpowers the other aromas and flavors, and my only regret is that I don't get to experience them more.

Good call on "pleasantly interesting" and wishing it weren't so veiled by the smoke.


I thought the color was somewhere between dark gold and brandy. The nose was packed with marshmallows, vanilla, sugar, and latex paint. I like the smell of latex paint on a hot summer day, and that's what I found wafting from the glass from about one foot away. The palate was filled with wonderful toffee, wood smoke, and brown sugar. The finish was slightly oily, short, and peppery on the end. To me, this Macallan 12 is a good, basic sherry cask whisky. Not too complex, but not too shy about asserting itself from the glass.

I found this quite fudgey, sweet and well rounded.


Nose of sweet plum, barbados cherry and cwithmuth puddin'. Full bodied, and burnished gold in colour. Soft spiciness at the start with a warming finish with the flavours of earth, and turfiness.


On the nose there was definitely spicy and vanilla notes, maybe smoky, too. On the palate, it was strong woody, spicy and cinnamon flavors all the way and smoky, too.

The finish was incredible; long, warm, and smooth as the woody and vanilla flavors settled. Full-bodied, smooth, and rich, this is a very flavorful whisky.

I'm sure you've moved on from here, if so forgive me, I agree dudemeister with your 21-10-2009. I just joined a month ago If I may I tried the 10yr sherry oak. From there I've tried others and been satisfied since. Thanks for indulging me.

Good review!! I've been meaning to get into the Macallans, this just gives me another nudge... :)


Very creamy and fruity aromas. Smooth taste with slight traces of oak and smoke. Excellent value, defenitly recommended a premium scotch under $60.


The distribution machine that is Macallan has managed to place this bottle in virtually every bar I've entered over the last 5-6 years. Nevertheless, it's not altogether bad.

It is fragrant on the nose, with notes of honey and spice. Sweet and vanilla through the middle, with a rather alcoholic finish.

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