Tasting Notes: The Macallan 18

Beloved by collectors, and found on the shelf of every bar — from local dives to high-end restaurants — there are few names in single malt whisky bigger than The Macallan.

Legally distilling since 1824, The Macallan is a Speyside malt known for it’s big, creamy, and sherried whisky. The creaminess and rich flavors come from the unusually small stills in which the whisky is distilled, and a direct gas heating method (rather than indirect steam heating employed by many distilleries) that caramelizes the malt. The sherry, of course, comes from the oloroso sherry casks in which much Macallan is aged.

A recently launched range of “Fine Oak” Macallan — aged in Spanish and American oak casks — is becoming more common. On the more expensive side, Macallan also has an extensive “fine and rare” vintage range, and a newly launched “1824” range is available exclusively in travel retail. On the cheaper side, The Macallan is also one of the primary single malts in the very popular Famous Grouse Blend.

This Macallan is an 18 year old aged in oloroso sherry casks from Jerez, Spain. It is made from whiskies distilled in 1990 or earlier.

The Macallan 18 Year

ABV: 43%

Color: Deep caramel brown.

Nose: Sherry sweetness and spice, creme brulee.

Taste: The sherried sweetness and some spice carry over from the nose. The whisky is big and creamy. A delicate, charred smokiness permeates the dram. More like a wood smoke than the coal smoke of Islay whiskies.

Overall: The big, creamy taste that The Macallan is famous for, with an added layer of complexity from the delicate charred smokiness. I love smoky whiskies, and I love the big creaminess of the Macallan. This is a perfect marriage of the two. If it wasn’t $150 a bottle, this would be my go-to whisky. For now, it will have to be a Christmas treat.

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