The Macallan Amber with Goran, Ryan & Dan

IMG_0442The Christmas Macallan. Thanks, Roisin!

The Macallan Amber is the second rung in The Macallan 1824 Series, a newly launched non-age specific line focusing on colour and taste.  The entry level Gold expression will be reviewed in the near future.

Some interesting natural vs legal geography going on here. The Macallan distillery sits in what is the generally accepted region of Speyside, and calls itself the smallest on Speyside.  But because it doesn’t sit in one of several specific counties, legally it’s a Highland – Speyside is a region within the Highlands. To my palate, this is very much a Highland Scotch, so is my tongue being biased simply by the region designation? Maybe, I don’t pay a lot of attention.

But this might be a good time to go into regional flavour generalizations. It’s commonly agreed that whisky from the different Scotch producing regions each present certain similarities in flavour profiles. I found this map that shows about ten regions, but before that, why would regionality mean anything?

In a small region there are only so many suppliers, so many coopers, so many trained labourers and so many aquifers.  Clustering around the same natural resources and people means the same general levels of trace elements will be available to react during the same general fermentation and distillation processes to make aromatics and phenolic taste and smell compounds. Bam, regionality.

IMG_0490However, the range on this phenomenon is small. For example, with Canadian whisky, geography is no predictor of taste, because other than outside of Toronto, there’s no clustering of distilleries. (We haven’t looked at Irish regionality beyond the macro level commonality of sweetness and smoothness, more inherent to the differences in process than anything. Similarly there maybe something worth investigating in Kentucky, where a similar (but smaller) clustering of distilleries exists.) But let’s get back to Scotch regions and what to expect.

Northern Highlands
example: Glenmorangie, Dalmore
typical flavours: light, floral, dry finish, complicated nose

Western Highlands
example: Oban
typical flavours: light smoke, complex finish

Central Highlands
example: Dalwhinnie, Deanston, Aberfeldy, Macallan
typical flavours: thin, sharp, uncomplicated

Eastern Highlands
example: Glen Garioch
typical flavours: can’t tell you first hand but the Glen Garioch is on the to-try list

example: Auchentoshan
typical flavours: less peaty, fruits

example: Glenlivet, Glenrothes, Cragganmore
typical flavours: sweet to solvent, sherries and fruits

example: Bowmore, Ardbeg
typical favours: complex peat, chocolate, vanilla

example: Talisker (Skye), Highland Park (Orkney), Jura
typical flavours: smoke, peat, brine, full, robust (my favourite)

example: Springbank
typical flavours: no first hand info yet, but searching LCBO right now

So that’s a very broad strokes generalization based on our own information. We’ll revisit this when we’ve had examples from the two remaining regions. In the meantime, here’s what we thought:

Simon – tequila, sherry, spirits
Goran – honey & seaweed, not complex
Ryan – leather, heavy, full, simple
Dan – not so fond of smell, woody, peaty, apple, sweetness, non-acidic

Simon – can really taste the sherry cask, actifed, taste better than smell, bite is sharp
Goran – surprising caramel finish after spicy, not peaty, front
Ryan – lingering throat burn, sweet licorice, mild rose wate
Dan – tastes better than smell, thin, flavour lingers, almost dry, wether’s, sharp

Simon – turns everything down a bit, but more wood
Goran – kills sweetness, not pleasant
Ryan – n/a
Dan – more alcohol burn, thick almost, burnt caramel

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

Try it? Yes. Buy it? If on sale or duty free, full price is steep.

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