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Macallan 18 Year Old Sherry Oak

Overhyped lightweight speysider

0 2875

@GeorgyReview by @Georgy

10th Oct 2016

0

  • Nose
    20
  • Taste
    19
  • Finish
    18
  • Balance
    18
  • Overall
    75

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I'm so glad I haven't splashed out on a whole bottle of this uneventful whisky and tried it in a whisky bar.

NOSE: a touch of menthol, raspberries, dense berry candy nose with a touch of berberis. Reminds me a lot of its younger brother the 12 yo sherried Macallan.

TASTE: some caramel, silky smooth, sweet dried fruits along with some stale dried fruits towards the finish.

FINISH: swift, not a lot to write home about, tea tannins.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: thank god for whisky bars. I would've been really bummed out about buying a whole bottle of this shockingly expensive, under-delivering malt.

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28 comments

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Georgy, thank you for a candid review.

Lightweight agreed, but over-hyped, I'm not so sure. The average score on Connosr is 88 and I believe that to be a fair assessment.

There is always an element of uncertainty when reviewing from a sample or a bar-sourced drink. When trying it in a bar you have no control over the state of the bottle. Storage and presentation are unknown and much the same can be said for some samples. There is no do-over when utilizing a small quantity, it is a one trick pony.

Macallan 18 may not be considered a top flight single malt by some reviewers. Before making that determination I would give it another chance, and from an alternative source. Would you by any chance know which release it was?

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@paddockjudge I absolutely agree with you! Of course, you can't really be too objective when sampling whiskies in bars. However, specialized whisky bars are a good option to get first impressions before buying. The whisky bar where I tasted this one had a very good storage system. No sunlight, temperature control, etc. And there were minimum distractions as well: no load music, very few people around, etc. And the bottle I sampled from was almost 1/3 empty so it had plenty of time to breathe. I also gave it a lot of time with just a drop of water, but it failed to open up in any way. It's got a nice nose, it's got a nice approachable body, but the finish is nowhere to be found. And in terms of what you pay for it - it IS, in my opinion, a rip off. Glenfarclas 15 beats this one any day, if you ask me. Also, I then tasted Auchentoshan Valinch in the same bar and I was very happy with the way it showed itself. A delicious lowland whisky! As for the release, I really don't know what it was exactly, sorry.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

I think this one has been living on its reputation from a couple of decades ago; the Michael Jackson years. More recent versions have been stupidly expensive and underwhelming. I bought a bottle at the distillery in 2011. It was more than slightly sulphurous and generally a big disappointment. It wasn't by any means undrinkable, but given its age and price I didn't think it was proportionally much better than the 12: I expected much more. I would probably give it 80 points. Haven't had it since, so I stand to be corrected.

I bought a Talisker 18 that same year from the distillery for about the same price and I would rate it well over 90 points. HP 18, 88-90; Laphroaig 18, 90+; Bunnahabhain 18; 88+. All of which are cheaper and far better than Macallan 18 IMO. I'm sure there are other 15-18 year olds that are a far better bang for the considerable buck than the Mac. I find Georgy's impression quite credible.

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@BlueNote Thank you! I totally agree. I also think that the reason some people may rate this one high is because of psychological reasons: when you've invested a considerable amount in a bottle of whisky like this one, you are more likely to go out of your way to justify your investment. One way to do that is to turn a blind eye to what is actually in the bottle.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I feel the same way about Macallan 25 - I can't believe they would bottle it at 43%!!!! And people would pay more than $1k for it!

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@Nozinan It is amazing what marketing can do.

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Georgy, in the case of Macallan, I would not call its current continued popularity marketing, I would call it reputation. "Back in the day", which is to say 40+ years ago, Macallan made whisky with beautiful clean sherry. The appetite for Cask Strength was not so popular then as it is now, and Macallan was one of the 6 or 8 Scottish distilleries to make single malt widely available outside of blends. Macallan got a big head start for quality and availability in the larger marketplace. That reputation persists in many quarters, often for lack of comparative experience with other brands. Most of the people who pedestalise Macallan now are not whisky connoisseurs with broad experience, but people who knew the whisky, or the reputation of the whisky, through the years...and, of course "brand ambassadors".

Right now, even when it succeeds in achieving clean sherry, which is rarely any more, the MAC 18 is just ridiculously expensive compared to its competitors. I had a 375 ml bottle of the 1991 MAC 18, which was quite enjoyable, but the sherry was not clean. I liked that bottle, which I considered expensive at $ 65 at the time, but I would not go anywhere near MAC 18 at current prices, which are double that price.

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@Victor Thank you very much for that piece of history there! I was wondering...what sherried malts with 90+ score would you recommend apart from Aberlour A'bunadh, being a big bold flavors lover such as yourself? Currently, I really love Glenfarclas 15 and Glendronach 15 as well as the recent Benromach 10 and my batch 55 of A'bunadh. But are there other great options?

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@Georgy, my list of preferred sherried malts also include, in the Cask Strength department, Amrut Intermediate Sherry, Kavalan Solist Sherry, Glendronach Cask Strength, and the North American release of Macallan Cask Strength (you'll likely never see nor taste that one, which was a beauty sold for $ 65 in 2011. Clean Sherry). In the more diluted sherry format, I prefer Glenfarclas 15 and Glenmorangie Sonnalta PX, which is pretty rare to find anymore.

There is now a lot of crappy Scottish sherried malt out there, if you can taste and smell sulphur. I am very reluctant to buy a bottle of Scottish wine finished malt anymore without having tasted it first. And tasting a lot of malts either takes a lot of money at bars and restaurants, or a lot of friends with whom one shares samples. I choose the latter route.

As for relying on the advise of others, I do that very very sparingly with sherried whiskies. I don't trust Jim Murray very much, but I do trust him to identify sulphur in a whisky.

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@Victor Thank you ever very much! And yeah, that's a great route to choose. I guess I'm going to stock up on Amrut soon!

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

I am not alone in being lured to this sherried malt. It is indeed unfortunate that @Georgy and @Bluenote experienced less than satisfactory examples of Macallan 18.

My experiences with the 1991, 1993, and 1994 iterations have all been enjoyable. My current bottle of 1993 Mac 18 was opened in July of 2014 with @talexander. It is now below the half-fill mark and remains as delicious as the day it was opened; however, the 18 YO is not my favourite Macallan. My favourite single malt is Macallan Cask Strength (60.1%), which happens to be a NAS whisky. I'm enjoying some now and wondering if we'll see another release of this beauty.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@paddockjudge, I looked back in my travel diary and the one I had was 1990 bottled 2009. Sounds like 19 years, but it was an 18. Serge gave it 87 points. Several others from the same era he scored high 80s to 90. I may have just got an off bottle, but based on @Victors comments, both for reasons of price and quality, I may never try another one.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Bluenote, the price is ridiculously high. I for one will not be buying another Macallan 18. I might never buy any Macallan again...unless the opportunity to acquire a cask strength arises.

Glendronach cask strength seems to be the way to go these days, for both quality and value.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

Glendronach - I've tasted an amazing 17 YO single cask.... I'm saving my sealed bottle for my retirement.

I woud also go with Amrut IS or single barrel sherry casks.

A'Bunadh is often phenomenal but I would not say the sherry is as "clean" as Amrut.

And yes, the Macallan CS is a winner.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

I agree, there are many excellent alternatives to Macallan. @paddockjudge, I had an opportunity to try theGlendronach cask strength batch #3 last weekend. Quite outstanding. @Nozinan, I'm still an Amrut virgin, but another friend is heading for Alberta shortly and it will be on my list.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I hope your friend has a large suitcase... Alberta has way too many Amrut expressions for your own good... Fusion, IS, Portonava, 46%, CS, peated 46%, Peated CS (some original editions and later batches of the CS versions), not to mention many one-off or limited releases. It's a goldmine!

3 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

The Amrut peated CS still remains elusive to this Wisconsin-based peatophile. In fact, it might just be the last big peater on the market that I've failed to try.

Anybody know an online store that ships to Wisconsin and carries it? I'm about due to place a big order anyway.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@Bluenote,

sherried Glendronach seems to be a safe bet. The port finished 18 YO did not leave a good impression with me.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@paddockjudge. Good to know. Cheers. @Nozinan. It's a roadtrip and he's got a van. :-)

What's my best bet for a sherried Amrut and a peated Amrut?

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Bluenote Well, if you're asking, The Amrut Peated CS is one of my favourite whiskies ever. I have only had the regular peated once at a tasting, and it was good, but the CS version is MAGICAL! Especially with the Ashok manoeuvre.

You can find, I believe, both the original edition in cardboard box or later batches in metal cannisters. and last time I saw a photo of a shelf, within the last 1-2 months, they were going for $90 +/- $10.

For a sherried , there are essentially 2 choices. The Intermediate Sherry will run you just over $100 if you can find it for a good price. My brother in law saw it for $$117 but had a $25 coupon in September.

The other option if available is a single cask bottling but it will likely cost more.

Amrut has a number of excellent non-sherry offerings too. The cask strength (either 2007 edition or a later batch) usually costs about $10 less than the peated CS, and is excellent, and bourbon -atured single casks are exceptional. And the "only" 50% ABV Fusion is more lightly peated and quite tasty. The 46% single malt is also very good.

So I would lead with IS and Peated CS but there's not much you can go wrong with.

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@BlueNote, I concur 100% with what @Nozinan has said.

Amrut is at the top of the heap for product quality across the board.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

Thank you @Nozinan. Exactly the information I was looking for. And thanks for your PM. And fully endorsed by @Victor? How can I go wrong!I will be going for the peated CS and the Intermediate sherry.

3 years ago 0

@paddockjudge
paddockjudge commented

@BlueNote,

I picked up a bottle of Mac 12 last month for $48 in New Mexico, solid vale. It is a birthday gift for a fan of sherry cask malts. He prefers the 12 YO Macallan to the 18 YO version.

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

The Mac 12 Sherry Oak is quite batch variable, but I don't think that I've tasted one yet with poor quality sherry. I have 3 on hand for this reason.

And, @Georgy, another lower proof sherried malt which I consider to be excellent is The Balvenie's 17 yo Doublewood. Yes, it is expensive, at near $ 100 or more. But lovely. The 12 yo Doublewood is very batch variable. Some are very good, some good, some not so good.

3 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@paddockjudge. That was a good deal on the 12. I picked one up in Oregon back in June. As I recall it was around US$60. A bit pricey, but I hadn't seen it in BC for several years, so went for it. The sherry influence seems a bit lighter than older versions, but at 43% it is quite drinkable. I would still say the Glendronach 12 Original, also 43%, is better value.

@Victor. I have not been particularly impressed with the 12 yo Doublewood since sometime in the late 90s when it was good quality and reasonably priced. The last one I got was at a duty free in 2012 and I thought it was very mediocre. I'd love to try the 17, but it's far too expensive here. I'll see if I can get a taste next time I'm in Britain. Currently I'm getting my sherry fix from Glenfarclas 15. The GF 12 is pretty good too.

I bought 2 Glenmo Sonnalta PX a few years ago and I am trying to nurse the second one for as long as possible. Now that is my idea of a top notch sherry finished whisky.

3 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

@BlueNote, I generally do not recommend either Balvenie 12 Doublewood or Macallan 12 because of their batch variability. I was a bit of a voice crying out in the wilderness on Connor several years ago when I went on record in reviewing a 12 Doublewood which I didn't like. In those days lots of people were on record for liking 12 Doublewood, and considering it to their 'reliable' "go-to" whisky.

I have had some since then which was a lot better. The point which is important to me is that I cannot recommend a whisky in which the risk of getting a "meh" batch seems to me to be high. In cases like that I want to be drinking a sample at the shop from the same batch before considering the purchase of a bottle. I have had delicious Jack Daniel's Old No.7 too, but I'd probably sooner jump off a bridge than buy a bottle of JD Old No. 7 "blind".

As for Sonnalta PX, yes, indeed, that is one very well-made whisky.

Do see if you can get yourself a taste of Balvenie 17 yo Doublewood. I would be shocked it if disappointed you. (unless it is a poorly handled bar sample)

3 years ago 0

@Georgy
Georgy commented

@Victor Yes, I remember you recommended Balvenie 17. Thank you! However, it IS quite pricey here in Moscow. I can actually buy 3 bottles of Amrut intermediate sherry instead. So I might try it when I strike it rich, but not anytime soon.

3 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I would be happy with a single Amrut IS open, and one in the bunker...

3 years ago 0

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