Show rating data charts
Distribution of ratings for this:
For the 1994 bottling.
Nose: Purple grape & sugarcane, at first. Then adds cocoa, as fine and dry as cinnamon powder... and with a punch as sharp as orange zest. After more time, vanilla and butterscotch round out the spices, and the grape seems more like strawberry.
Palate: Enters as a dry woody oak, just rounded out by faint grapy sweetness. Then it becomes a serious very dark chocolate, just on the edge of bitter but never tipping. (I might also call this almond or walnut skins, or something like lavender.) Then the palate doesn't change too much for a spell, but adds a little spicy hot ginger. (If held in the mouth longer, soft caramel arrives followed by strawberry rhubarb pie.)
Finish: Oak and ginger. Then a further impression of that very dark chocolate. If you're looking for it, there is purple grape (or plump raisins) floating in the background.
This is a beautiful whisky, even though my first impression was that it was too dry and lacked the fruitiness I had come to expect from sherry finishes. This is a drier sophisticated expression, I would think for lovers (like myself) of very dark chocolate that is almost too bitter. If you are looking for something as fruity as the nose promises, then you should turn elsewhere (the 10 or 12 year old, or an Aberlour, etc.).
I can think of a few similar malts with this prominent tannic cocoa sensation, all of which add some creamy character relative to the Macallan. The first to come to mind are Glenfarclas 25 & 30, which are nuttier, whereas the Macallan has more wood/grape/zest. I enjoyed the Macallan just a bit more, perhaps because it came across slightly fuller, especially on the entrance-- but (today) the Mac is 50% more costly. Glenmorangie's Sonnalta is also similar but has more sweet grape/vanilla influence, whereas the Macallan is drier. I rate them about equally, but would open them for different situations. Luckily, the Macallan seems more available, for now. I look forward to trying the 1995 vintage too.