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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 (except for 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 18-year old Sherry Cask version was first launched in 1984; this particular expression was bottled in 2012.
The nose, in one word: WOWEE!! Rich and fruity flavours assail you from the very start, dark fruits, raisins, overripe pears, plum jam, everything is very fruity and soft at the same time. Later, notes of dry oak make an appearance. Classic Macallan!
The palate is medium-bodied and sweet but gets just a little bit spicy towards the end. Soft and silky on the tongue, this is again dominated by dark fruits, cherries, plums, and hints of chocolate and orange peel.
The finish is long, warming, and a little bit spicy. There is rubber (in a good way), and lots of plum jam. A mouth watering finish if there ever was one.
This was and remains my benchmark for sherried single malts, although I must say I was even more impressed by the older bottlings from the 1990s. Still, this is – pardon my French – damn good stuff! The rich and lush nose, the fruity and well balanced palate, the mouth watering finish… honestly, who would not like this? Then again, looking at what the guys at Macallan are doing to their core range makes your heart bleed. NAS bottlings all over the place. Whatever has happened to the good old distilling tradition at Macallan??