Raise The Macallan with Ryan, Goran & Dan

2014-01-28 19.28.55Well how do you like that? Free scotch in a museum. With scotch. That was free.

I’ll let that sink in for a second.

Anyway, I got an email from the GrapeScot mailing list pointing to a Macallan tasting event to talk about their 1824 line of scotches, of which we’d previously tried the Amber. We signed up to two of the three sessions, Dan & Goran doing the 17h30 sitting and Ryan & I the 19h00.

2014-01-28 19.02.14There was (obviously) a lot of marketing material presented by brand ambassador Marc Laverdiere, giving us some of the history of Macallan (established legally in 1824) and a description of the location (in Speyside, sitting on 2 miles of the Spey banks). Because the 1824 line is focused on colour, we got a lot of information about the casks Macallan used, specifically American oak, sent to Spain and used to condition sherry before moving on to Macallan to age their baseline distillate. These different expressions have had different lives in oak, which was explained in detail but… not overly interesting, really.  Finding out they use the same distillate in the same wood and really only vary minor elements made me feel like this product is more iterative than innovative. Focusing on colour allows them to trash talk other distilleries for adding caramel while also freeing them from the legal constraints of a declared age. Yes, one of them may consist of 25 year old scotch now, but…

2014-01-28 18.57.442014-01-28 18.58.22But… here’s the thing. If I’m to be honest, I think I was the only one of the four of us who reacted so dismissively to the information presented. my cynicism blocked me from fully participating – I went into the event knowing that I haven’t enjoyed the previous Macallans I’ve tried. Dan, Goran & Ryan went in fairly neutral or buoyed by the prospect of free scotch, and enjoyed themselves, and commented specifically on feeling they had learned something. I lost the thread of simple enjoyment because I couldn’t turn off the media analysis commentary track in my head. Dear Self, stop being a pretentious git.

2014-01-28 19.00.382014-01-28 18.59.11Personal growth aside, Mr Laverdiere did a very good job of walking us through the four expressions Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby, giving detailed notes intermixed with anecdotes and whiskey factoids. Our table seemed to have a good sense of humour, as well as some complimentary palate-cleansing… potato chips and watermelon? Cool…

2014-01-28 19.31.21And it was further pretty cool to be in the new rooms at the Museum of Nature on Elgin St in Ottawa. A giant old castle, with a new glass solarium off the main entrance. Huge staircases and marble floors. The foyer and tasting room were both fully and brilliantly white, I guess to accentuate the colours involved in this colour-focused product line, but it did make the set displays look very clean. The tasting room had large projection screens for slides and short videos that paced the presentations, mostly stock footage of Scotland and people staring out windows through whisky glasses.

The notes are going to be a little bit all over the place, as Dan & Goran gave full notes but Ryan & I only managed a partial review. Here’s what we thought:

Macallan Gold:
Dan – mild golden
Goran – light gold

Dan – baker’s chocolate, floral
Goran – very light, slightly mossy, hay, chocolate

taste (neat)
Dan – sweet, orange, chocolate, earthy/hay
Goran – fresh fruit, light, no burn, banana

Dan – numbing sweetness
Goran – back of tongue, not throat finish, sweetness lingers

general impressions
Ryan & Simon – thin, nothing special. unstructured, taste lingers but is not great. citrus zest, mossy, slight artificiality

Macallan Gold – 40% 750ml – $64.95 – Highlands

Try it? Sure. Buy it? No.

Macallan Ambersee the previous review here.
Dan – n/a
Goran – dark apple juice

Dan – toasted chocolate, vanilla, oak
Goran – mineral, light, slightly saltier, flowers

taste (neat)
Dan – spicy, cider
Goran – lots of chocolate, vanilla, hint of fruit, banana

Dan – creamy, a little astringent
Goran – bubblegum, cinnamon

Macallan Amber – 40% 750ml – $99.95 – Highlands

Try it? Sure. Buy it? No.

Macallan Sienna
Dan – bourbonesque
Goran – light caramel, orange pekoe tea

Dan – soft, toasted malts, raisins, currants
Goran – no burn, very sweet, roses, butterscotch orange

taste (neat)
Dan – full, not thick, cereal, toffee, dry wood
Goran – very mild burn, more butter, chocolate, orange, just *more* flavour

Dan – simple, elegant burn
Goran – tingle, lots of buttery fruit

general impressions
Ryan & Simon – much darker. sits with a shine in the glass. definitely tastes like a Macallan and definitely more expensive. slightly more punch, more refined but still not great

Macallan Sienna – 43% 750ml – $174.95 – Highlands

Try it? Yes. Buy it? No.

Macallan Ruby
Dan – n/a
Goran – iced tea

Dan – orange peel, charred wood, dates
Goran – very light smoke early, more classical scotch, lots of vanilla & chocolate, some salt

taste (neat)
Dan – dates, apple, slight burn
Goran – spice & lots of fruit, butterscotch

Dan – warm, light
Goran – some smoke, lingering burn and cream

general impressions
Ryan & Simon – smells like more of the same, slightly more robust sweetness flavour is not significantly more or better

Macallan Ruby – 43% 750ml – $299.95 – Highlands

Try it? Yes. Buy it? No.

Don’t worry, BattleScotch! fans, we took notes of what we liked the best. Ryan preferred the Ruby, Dan & I liked the Sienna and Goran chose the Gold, as the simplest expression of essentially the same thing. And that’s the issue we had with this scotch – it’s good. But it’s not great. And you’re paying a “derp I put our old school name on the box” double mark up on everything in the line. At 60-75% of the current price it might be something to recommend but as of printing, none of us could justify spending our own money on the Macallan 1824 line. But we did have fun tasting it.


3 Replies to “Raise The Macallan with Ryan, Goran & Dan”

  1. 2
    Maxime L Séguin

    (sorry I don’t know how to reach you in private.)

    Would you agree to “lend” me the use of some of the pictures you took to use on a Facebook page of mine?


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