Friday, November 13, 2009

Review: Macallan on the Fly

Macallan recently (OK, not so recently—July) released upon the world its 1824 Collection, "a new family of single malts developed exclusively for the Global Travel Retail market." (Their capitalization, not mine.) That means whiskey for Duty Free shoppers, Ducky! That's right, you can't get this outside the airport. So pay attention to the names and look for them. Because they're all good.

The three expressions (there are four, actually, but I haven't tried the Limited Release, probably because, well, it's so limited) are Macallan Select Oak, Macallan Whisky Maker's Edition, and Macallan Estate Reserve. I began with the Reserve. I shared it with the wife. After a sip, I asked her what she thought. "Good," she said. (The wife keeps it simple.) I agreed: "Good." That doesn't sound like much, but, really, there's very little to criticize about this Scotch. Using specially reserved Sherry-seasoned hogshead casks, this whisky's nose is caramel and butterscotch all the way. It's a smooth dram, very even, on the soft side with a little spice hit at the front, then smoothing out to butter, apple and caramel at the end. Mature and round. Lovely.

The Whisky Maker's Edition is drawn from booze distilled from barley grown on the Macallan estate. It's even smooooother than the Reserve. There's spice, but it comes in the mid-palate this time. A nose of caramel, candied orange and pumpkin spice (possibly, or maybe I'm just thinking of Thanksgiving early) leads to a taste of orange and maple candy. It's smooth as silk at the end, with a pleasantly light burning aftertaste.

Whereas the Reserve and Maker's seem like brothers of a sort, the Select Oak comes off as its own man. The distillers use three cask types: American oak seasoned with Sherry or Bourbon, and first-fill European oak casks seasoned with Sherry. The Sherry makes its presence known. This is lighter in color. It's bright and citrusy on the nose, with light caramel, nectarine and toffee. The Scotch has a much lighter body than the previous two. Again, it's bright, bright, bright. The spice is light and consistent throughout. Peach, ripe orange, Meyer lemon, cinnamon, vanilla bean. It makes you happy.

The prices say that the Reserve ($165 for 700 ml) and Maker's ($99 for 1 liter) are your prizes, but at $53, the Select Oak is a bargain. So, if you're switching planes and need to get shed some foreign moolah before loosing on the exchange...

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