I drank this whisky for the first time with Mr Bob Dalgarno, Macallans' famed whisky maker, when my whisky club hosted him not too long ago. He was a wonderful and pleasant guest and the whiskies weren't too bad either.
The one thing that stuck with me as I interviewed him for my YouTube channel was essentially how hard his job is. To match color, taste and maintain consistency in all his whiskies without any caramel is quite an astounding feat.
Add to the fact that he started his career at Macallan as a warehouseman and then worked his way through every stage of whisky making – mashman, brewer, stillman, warehouse supervisor, operations manager – to finally join the panel which selects casks for bottling in 1994 you can be sure he has my respect.
Known as the Whisky Maker he set about creating this one-off NAS expression exclusively for travel retail. When asked about the curious 42.8% alcohol strength he told me that prior to January 1980 the standard bottling strength used to be 75 Imperial Proof before it was dropped to the current 40%. This is a homage to that era.
Using a combination of European sherry-oak balanced by American sherry & ex-bourbon this whisky has a number of ages in it but apparently none younger than 12. I will take his word on that. My sample is from a brand new bottle and served at 42.8%
Quite crisp. The sherry is quite sharp. Hops. A touch malty. Bitter chocolate. Milk chocolate. Hazelnut. Praline. Lots of oak. Gets earthy after a while. Jute bag. Barley. Then fruity. Orange peel. Red apple. Red grapes. Then spicy. Ginger. It's not a bad nose. It started off nice and crisp but the slight maltiness threw me off a little. This could have been perfect. But it's not. 22/25
When I first had a sip of this at our tasting I was floored. It tasted absolutely amazing. However, I'm now convinced that the mood and the setting had a huge part to play in that. Quite thin. Lots of oak. Cinnamon. Peppercorns. Almonds. Hazelnut. Bitter marmalade. Clove. Feels a little raw for some reason. It shouldn't. But it does. 21/15
Long. Coffee. And that oak again. 22/25
I'll be honest. I liked it a lot better when it was Bob and myself sharing a drink. Not so much right now. Though, I must be honest. My friend and I pretty much killed this bottle while watching a horror movie at his house. Not sure if I liked the whisky too much or if I was just using it to take the edge off.
Probably the latter.