My relationship with “The” Macallan goes back to before my whisky journey truly began. I was gifted a bottle of the 25 YO by the husband of a patient. If I had known anything about Scotch I would probably never have accepted it (I was used to $20 bottles of Canadian rye from the LCBO that my father had bought when I was a teen). That gentleman eventually, much later, inspired me to start exploring the world of whisky.
I opened a bottle of the 25 back then because my uncle likes Macallan, and though I eventually shared it with my first tasting club, I’m pretty sure that I never really appreciated it as much as others might, or maybe as much as I might appreciate it now. That bottle is long gone, the last ounce reviewed (I thought but can’t find it) by @Victor some time ago.
In February 2014 I met @Paddockjudge, and in our first trade he gave me this bottle, at the time his favourite Scotch. When we discovered 8 bottles of this now-discontinued expression selling for $73 each (tax in) in Calgary that year, I opened it to see if I wanted any more bottles. I clearly did. I would have taken them all, but I was happy to stick with 2 spares and I know that the rest are in a special place.
This bottle was opened in 2014 and I have poured it sparingly since. I was preparing a sample of something else and looking for something to review and this called to me, so I decanted the last bit of the bottle and was left with about 30 cc which I am sitting with now. It has been gassed after each pour.
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.
Neat – Sherry, lots of sherry. Prune jam, like what I used to make Homen Tashen (Purim treats) this afternoon, dark fruits. Macallan CS has a specific bass character that no other sherry monsters have. Some vanilla. Very deep, rich and warm. 22/25
With water – I get a syrupy sweetness. The spices (could it be nutmeg?) are a little stronger. The medium pitch fruits become more prominent. Black cherry. A very complex nose. (23/25)
Neat – Sweet arrival, slightly effervescent on the tongue. It hides its ABV well, but you can feel it’s a little hot after a few sips. Prunes. Sherry. Spicy. 22/25
With water – Sweet arrival. Flavour explodes in my mouth. More spicy, more fruit. A little thinner but not a problem. Some pepper. More complex. WOW! (23.5/25)
Finish: Quite dry and long, in contrast to the quick sweet arrival. Oak tannins at the exit. Did mention long finish? 22/25. Water speeds up the finish. Slightly less dry, more peppery. The oak is a little subdued (in a good way). (23/25)
Balance: Nose and palate work together. Rich, dark, complex. 23/25 With water it remains, rich and complex (23/25)
This Scotch is continuing to open up a half hour after I added water for this review. Stunning!
Score: Neat - 89 /100 With Water: 92.5 /100
Adjusted Score based on enjoyment: 94/100
I didn’t realise I liked this as much as this. I think the bottle might have even been better after I first opened it, when the dark prune notes dominated more.
I don’t remember the Macallan 25 much, but I would guess that I probably enjoy this expression more. It has full flavour and is not diluted to 43%.
Thanks again to @Paddockjudge for introducing me to this Scotch at a time when I would have been satisfied with the sherry bombs of A’Bunadh and Bladnoch.
@Nozinan, great review. You are not deluding yourself about Macallan Cask Strength getting better with air exposure. Let it sit a couple of years in an open bottle and the fruitiness on the nose will blow you away like a bomb. It gets impossibly fruity. I think that if I had seen the air effects on Mac CS sooner that I might have put aside a lot more bottles of it than I did. I only have 2 bottles now, but if I had my d'ruthers I'd have at least 6 or 8 of them in my stored stock right now.
Important to note is that this North American release of Macallan Cask Strength has impeccably clean sherry, without a hint of sulphur present. The same cannot be said for many releases of, say, Macallan 18 yo.
...and you saw me review Mac CS at 90 points. With the bottle open 2 years my number would have about equaled the 94 points you gave.