Macallan – Sure, why not

I’ve had very few times to write up reviews. Thus when I do, I’ve been batching them together. It’s fun, really. Everyone loves super long reviews that take a long time to read (this is sarcasm).

Let’s get caught up and then maybe, just maybe, I’ll go back to singles (that’s a lie).

Alright, I’m doing this because I had a bunch of Macallans and I meant to do them before and it’s been tough this past two years! (Now you’re oversharing).

I am not a daily Macallan drinker. I’m not someone who dreams of trying more of it. It’s made for a specific whisky drinker. Someone who has the money (not me), someone who likes the bottle art (kinda me but not really), and someone who likes a sherry driven whisky that is hard to get in cask strength (not me at all). It’s super okay if you partially, completely, or completely don’t fall into any of those groups. We’re still cool.

However every so often someone (well it’s either Macallan or an Independent bottler) brings out a Macallan release I want to try. The recent Editions have been an interesting foray, and I hope… wait, they stopped after No. 6, didn’t they…. Damn.

Okay, so let’s try and catch up a bit on those, and then we have a treat: We can see what Macallan used to release and an independently bottled version that people are positive about is Macallan.

Let’s see how these differ, shall we?

Thanks to Bradbobaggins  for the sample.

Macallan Edition No. 4 has a purpose. Or a porpoise, you never knew when something is going to have a typo which leads to owning a large marine mammal.

What’s the purpose? To celebrate “The Macallan’s whisky making heritage”. Specifically wood management (heheheh) and how it makes Macallan. And when you think wood (teehee), you think sherry casks.

As such they used seven different types of sherry casks to make it: Refill and first fill, American and European oak;, hogsheads, puncheons, and butts. All from multiple cooperages across Spain.

Frankly I’m all for it, and not just because of the butts. Let’s be honest here: When someone talks about quality in a blend or a vatted malt, they’re speaking to an interesting combination of casks to elevate the strengths of each one. So in theory a single cask bottling shouldn’t be as good as someone who knows how to blend.

Thus this release should be that, based on the marketing. And I don’t just say that due to my unending hatred of my old profession (marketing, not alcohol). I say that because it’s literally telling us how the sausage was made.

But to beat that saying to death (forgiveness from my non-pork eating readers): If the pig you put in there or the spices or the salt isn’t good, then it doesn’t matter if I know the recipe like the back of my hand, it’s not worth the squeal.

Let’s see if this one squeals, shall we?

Price: $175 CAD

Region: Speyside

Bottled: 2018

Cask type European / American Oak Refill Butts

Number of bottles: 300,000

Abv: 48.4%

Colour: 10YR 5/8

Nose: Grapefruit, brown sugar, ginger, hot cross buns

Bit light on the nose, and that mixed with the sheer amount of bottle has me a tad worried. Typically in these “higher end” releases you get an amazing nose. And here with have a light nose that eventually gives you some cinnamon/yeast notes, but otherwise smells like a standard sherry finished whisky.

I’m looking back at No.2 with longing now.

Taste: Apple fritter, icing, candied ginger, roast pineapple

Ok, ok, now I’m getting it. The malt still shines, you get some well developed fruit notes, some interesting sweet aspects, and some yeast that tries very hard to balance it all out.

It doesn’t work, but as a consistent sweet eater who’s wondering if he’s having whisky or sweets after dinner most nights I’m good. This has a good amount of spice as well, so while that doesn’t balance as well as say bitterness or acidity, it does help a lot. And as long as you enjoy desserts, you’ll be a happy camper.

Finish: Orange chicken, ginger, spice cake, dry leaves, gingersnaps

Alright, now we’re getting even more interesting. If the nose is generic, and the taste is on the verge of impressive, then the finish is showing you complexity.

Proper balance, good acidity, some meatiness, some vegetal notes (not sweet? Oh my goodness!), and even some additional work on the spice/cereal/cake notes from before.

Conclusion: Spice forward but balanced in the end. Is it the best of the Editions, as stated by Men’s Health magazine and not totally written by a total shill at that magazine? No, seriously someone get that gremlin something worth tasting and force them to drink it out of a paper maché cup made from their “article”.

This is a nice spicy dram. Is it the best Macallan you can get? No. The Editions are nice, the Editions are tasty, and this one is in the middle of the pack. We haven’t jumped the shark yet but the marketing makes me think we’re starting the boat engine and buying waterproof leather jackets.


Thanks to Herr_Maltenburg  for this dram.

Macallan Edition No. 5 follows in the line’s idea that it’s an homage to something. This one? The “diversity and complexity of natural colour”.

I…come on guys, I’m trying to be as nice as I can. Colour is to whisky as a CD player is to a 2020 car: You shouldn’t give a shit.

Before someone says it: I get it, you eat with your eyes first, a dark amazing whisky looks more enticing, and the use of any colouring has 0 impact on flavour other than changing your initial judgement of the whisky. It’s annoying, it’s problematic, and I thought Macallan would have learned to stop that after their “colour” releases ended.

Ok, luckily I didn’t know this was a dedication to visual perception and how “sherry is red durr”. I drank it blind, said “It’s an edition, there’s a story, hopefully it’s better than No.2, which so far is the best”.

So, did dedicating a whisky to a CD player work? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: €175

Region: Speyside

Bottled: 2019

Cask type: Oak Casks

Number of bottles 260,000

Abv: 48.5%

Colour: 5Y 7/8

Nose: Peach, cloves, caramel, pastry, cinnamon

Fruity, spicey, some caramel. Starts out like “oh well” and then eventually wakes up and realizes that they are asking for a lot of money for a whisky dedicated to colour and then starts delivering some more spice and well developed butter notes.

Taste: Peach, cinnamon, treacle, mineral

This time the whisky delivers a well developed caramel note because it somehow knows I’m prejudging it because of future knowledge. Some nice minerality pops up. All in all it’s sweet and well balanced, and you can’t ignore the strong, complex caramel note.

Finish: Honey, mint, apple, vanilla icing, mineral

The finish is an exploration in sweets, some sharp acidity, and then that mineral again. I find myself enjoying drinking it, however I was expecting more.

Conclusion: Not bad. Nice flavours.

So let’s break this down in different ways: Looking at this purely as a whisky on the market you end up with a well made if not too unique sherried whisky. People who buy it will enjoy drinking it. Full stop. That’s the review.

If we continue (which we shouldn’t), one look at the price (which again I try not to consider in my reviews ever) and you’ll know that we’ve jumped the shark. Gone are the nods towards tangible, interesting releases and now we’re onto “colour” as a reason. It comes off as a made-up reason from marketing for an otherwise okay whisky that they’d like to make more money on.

It’s up to you to decide to buy whisky for the reasons you want it: If you want to look at something on your shelf, if you want something like art, or if you just like the taste and have the money, then you’ll buy this and it’ll look great beside unopened bottles of the others, or even in a decanter (I just threw up in my own mouth).

Doesn’t matter that you could save money and buy an age stated version of Macallan from an IB that would be a lot better, in my not-so-humble opinion.

If you’re like me, you’ll have this at a bar, and leave it at that.


Macallan 10 Sherry Oak is an older, entry level whisky the company used to bring out. Back in the before times, or as we normally call it, like 7 years ago, your entry level Macallan was either this or the Fine Oak line. Eventually this was replaced by a 12-year-old offering.

Yes, for those of you currently staring in disbelief: They replaced it with something older. It was a turbulent time. There was a war going on in Afghanistan, after all. And various other places. Certain people were getting more money.

But enough about how horrible the past was: Let’s look at how good it may have been! Maybe this whisky was the bees knees, or maybe it’s a pack of killer bees, or perhaps it’s just a bumble bee that you stepped on. That’s the new metric people, we’re onto collective flying insects here.

Let’s get to the whisky.

Price: £199

Region: Speyside

Cask type Sherry

Abv: 40%

Colour: 10YR 5/8

Nose: Orange, vanilla, Skittles, earth, ginger

Smells a bit like a creamsicle, then goes sweeter, and the sherry dominates quite a bit. Not bad nose.

Eventually the gingers take over like we’re in opposite world. Sorry, I meant the ginger takes over.

Taste: Butter, ginger, melon, cashew

More whisky influence now, reminds me of some of the entry level whiskies on the market that happen to have some sherry to it. Again, ginger is the main element, however the nuttiness eventually ramps up as well and you get mostly just those flavours.

Finish: Ginger, mineral, orange, caramel

Bit of mineral to round out all of the sweets, and more ginger. It’s gingers all the way down. Nothing but bright crotches and a fear of the sun.

Conclusion: A ginger nut dram. Make your own jokes there, I’m not even touching that.

There’s a good amount of spice, some acidity, some standard buttery/fatty notes, and some fruity elements. Is it perfect? No, far from it. There’s simple flavours, you can’t really determine what the whisky is bringing versus other distilleries, and the nose is overly sweet. I’m super happy I got to try this. To “complete” it, if you will. Try it if you have a chance, otherwise you’re good.


(Please ignore the abv. on the sample, that’s a typo)

Macallan Unnamed Speyside 12 2007 Signatory Vintage Un-Chillfiltered Collection wasn’t labeled as a Macallan. That said, the internet has stated this is a Macallan. The store link says it as well.

And no, not in the same way they’ve announced every single unnamed Speyside is a Macallan. Stop just saying everything is Macallan. Speyside is a big, big area and not all of them are Macallan. Some are, and others are not.

So yes, while I can’t 100% say it’s Macallan, a store has said so, even though the bottle isn’t allowed to. So we have a 12-year-old ex refill sherry whisky. I’m actually wondering if the person who swapped me this had the incorrect abv on the label, sadly..

Thus we have something interesting: We have multiple casks that were vatted together, sold by Macallan, and then sold to K&L. Let’s see what Macallan is willing to give up, shall we?

Price: $110 at K&L Wine Merchants

Region: Speyside

Vintage: March 5, 2007

Bottled: June 8, 2019

Cask Type: Refill Sherry Butts, Vatting Cask

Cask Number: 17/A 190#28

Number of bottles: 604

Bottled for K&L Wine Merchants

Abv: 63.4%

Colour: 10YR 7/10

Nose: Pineapple, coconut, hand soap, oak/dry grass

Tropical fruit, tropical fruit, and tropical fruit hand soap. Strong. That eventually releases some oak and grass. Nice, if a bit soapy. Granted I once grabbed an entire handful of soap gum and stuck it in my mouth, so I’m not the best at judging soap in food.

Taste: Metric ton of caramel, sand, passionfruit, honey, oak

Wow that’s a lot of caramel. Hard to get to much else, though some dry sweets, some tropical elements, and even a bit of funk stick out.

Finish: A metric ton of orange, vanilla/floral, oak, dough, ginger

Too much sweets? How about being buried alive in oranges and floral elements? Better? Worse? Really depends on how much Florida or Spain has hurt your life.

And yes, I just said Spain is the Florida of Europe, but only because of the oranges. Spain has to work on some more drugs before they hit Florida levels of bad.

Conclusion: Thicc syrup dram with big, simple flavours. Nothing here is complex (ok, maybe the passionfruit) but makes up for it by being loud. Which I believe is called “the American method of speaking a new language”.

Alright enough slamming the US. Is this nice? Yes. Are you ready for something this thick? Probably not. Turns out that Macallan isn’t just in the juice and the casks: They know something about vatting. This was fun to sip on, however probably not worth the total hype. Hey, at least it’s not as pricey as Macallans.


Scotch review #1383-86, Speyside review #380-83, Whisky Network review #2059-62

101 Whiskies to Try Before You Die review #75

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