Lagavulin 1997 Distillers Edition PX Finish Review


“Sweet Malt, Salty Price”

Whisky Review # 752

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Lagavulin 1997 Distillers Edition PX Finish
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 16 Years - Bottled in 2013
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 43%
Maturation: Ex-Bourbon Casks with a few months of Pedro Ximenez Cask Finish
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 120-170 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Nice Single Malt. The regular 16 Y has a better P/Q ratio.


Colour:

Full Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Nicely matured Islay Malt. The PX Finish gives it a bit of extra Sweetness. A few  Sour, Herbal, Rubbery and Dusty Aromas. Quite pleasant and Medium-Dry. This Lagavulin would shine even more if bottled at 46%.

Main Aromas:

Toasted and Malted Cereals, Burnt Toast, Treacle, Brown Sugar, Heather-Honey, (Cigar) Smoke, Peat, Iodine, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Plums and Figs, Seville Orange, Cinnamon, Pepper, Leather and Tobacco.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Vanilla, Soot, Tar, Brine, Salted Ham, Bacon on the BBQ, Lemon, Wax, Red Apples, Maraschino Cherries, Roasted Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Cloves and Menthol.


Palate:

A little Thin. An ABV of 46% would have been more adequate. On the Palate, the PX Finish is Bitter-Sweet with a few Salty, Mineral and Grassy notes.

Main Flavours:

Toasted/Malted Cereals, Heather-Honey, Treacle, (Cigar) Smoke, Peat, Iodine, Tar, Soot, Ashes, Smoked Fish and Bacon, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Figs, Oak, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Pepper, Menthol and Licorice.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Nuts, Red Apple, Dusty Track, Wet Rocks/Sand, Herbal Tea, Roasted Coffee, Lemon, Tobacco and Cloves.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter-Sweet and Medium-Dry. I find Toasted and Malted Cereals, Toast, Treacle, Caramel, (Cigar) Smoke, Peat, Iodine, Ashes, Soot, Tar, Salted Fish and Bacon, Wet Stones, Dried Fruit like Raisins and Figs, Dark Chocolate, Oak, Seville-Orange, Roasted Coffee, Leather, Tobacco, Licorice, Pepper, Cloves and Menthol.


Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose becomes more Malty and Peaty. More Salty Bacon and Spices on the Palate and in the Finish. I liked it both ways but be sure to add only a few drops. Otherwise you will drown this Lagavulin.

Rating: 86.5

Nose: 22 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21.5 - Overall: 21.5


Drinking Experience:

Good. It deserves an ABV of 46%.

Conclusion:

The distillery was founded in 1816 by John Johnston and is located on the South-Eastern coast of Islay, close to Port Ellen. It changed hands various times during its history but today it is firmly controlled by Diageo. Lagavulin currently produces around 2.5 million litres. Lagavulin is one of the key Malts in the White Horse Blend.

This PX Finish was launched for the first time in 1998 and it has become an annual crowd-pleaser. The edition I'm tasting today was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2013. It's a nice and balanced Single Malt although the ABV is slightly on the low side. An ABV of 46% would be perfect for this Malt. My problem with this Single Malt is the price. Because in reality it's just the regular 16 years with a short PX cask Finish. This short Finish makes this Lagavulin a little Sweeter but its Price Tag quite Salty! I can easily live without both. The Lagavulin PX Finish Distillers Edition is a nice Single Malt but the regular 16 Years has a much better Price/Quality ratio.

The pictures were taken during our visits to the distillery in May 2014 and May 2017

Speyburn Bradan Orach Review - Cardhu 18 Years Review - Allt-A-Bhainne 1995 (Chapter 7 Cask 166300) Review - Longmorn 1991 (Carn Mor Cask 54953) Review


“Speyside Special # 3”

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the coming months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result, my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific region like today or with specific bottlers, countries or distilleries. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't touch too much details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In this special I will review four random Speyside Single Malts. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 748

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Speyburn Bradan Orach
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS (Probably 5 Years or so)
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: Refill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 20-30 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ž Negative. Smells and Tastes like a cheap Blend. 

Colour:

Pale Gold (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Young, Thin, Harsh and Yeasty. It smells like a Bottom Shelf Blend mixed with Lager Beer. Alcohol and Refill Cask are quite present. Not really enjoyable.

Main Aromas:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Refill Oak, Straw/Grass, Pine Needles, Nuts and Nut Shells, Dough, Caramel, Sour Berries, Lemon, Cheese, Cooked Potatoes and Green Plums.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Toffee, Floral Soap, Grapefruit, Wet Cardboard, Green Apple, Pineapple, Unripe Pear, White Pepper and Mint.

Bradan Orach (Golden Salmon)

Palate:

Thin, Watery, Hot and Sharp. A mixture of Sugary Sweet, Bitter and Sour notes.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Caramel, Alcohol, Refill Oak, Saw Dust, Nuts and Nut Shells, Pine Needles, Green Apples, Grapefruit, Lemon and Pepper.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Sour Berries, Green Plums, Green Banana, Mint, Aniseed, Dried Herbs and Tea.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Sharp, Edgy, Hot and Watery. A mix of Sugary Sweet and Bitter Refill Oak. I find Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Toast and Margarine, Aspartame, Refill Oak, Green Apple, Grass, Sour White Grapes, Grapefruit, Herbal Tea, Caramel, Nut Shells, Alcohol and Pepper.

Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Harshness retreats. Not much else is left though. Palate and Finish practically disappear as well. This is a mixing Alcohol at best!

Rating: 70

Nose: 18 - Taste: 17.5 - Finish: 17 - Overall: 17.5

Drinking Experience:

Below Average. In a Blind Tasting most Whisky fans would probably assume this to be a Bottom Shelf Blend. Given its low price it might be considered as raw material for mixing.

Conclusion:

The Speyburn Distillery is located in Rothes and was founded in 1897 by the Hopkin Family. Today it is owned by Inver House Distillers, part of Thai Beverage PLC. The distillery is quite popular in the USA, mostly because of the low price I suppose. Next to the Bradan Orach, the core range includes a 10 and 25 Years. Most of the production goes into Blends like Inver House.

Bradan Orach is Gaelic for Golden Salmon. The River Spey of course is a great place for Salmon fishing. It's a beautiful name for a very mediocre Single Malt. It really smells and tastes like a cheap Blend. It is indeed not expensive of course. I even saw it on offer for 15-18 US Dollars in some places. So you can't expect Whisky heaven at this price level. But without considering the price, the Bradan Orach is not interesting enough to consider as a sipping Malt.



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Whisky Review # 749

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Cardhu
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: A mix of mostly Ex-Bourbon casks and some Sherry Wood.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 70-85 (July 2018)
Buying Advice:๐Ÿ˜ Nice for Starters. Boring for advanced Whisky fans.

Colour:

Golden Amber (Artificially Coloured)

Nose:

Light, Sweet, Perfumy, Malty and Buttery. The Sherry casks are noticeable but the Sherry influence is limited. It keeps a low profile for an 18 Years old.

Main Aromas:

Malted Barley, Buttered Croissants, Vanilla, Straw/Grass, Floral Perfume, Citrus Peel, Grapefruit, Fresh Pineapple, White Orchard Fruit, White Chocolate, Fresh Herbs (Mint), Freshly Polished Leather Upholstery and Caffe Latte.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Gewurztraminer, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots and Plums, Almonds, Peanuts, Gooseberry, Nectarine, Cinnamon and Cloves.


Palate:

Light and a little Thin. An 18 Years old deserves an ABV of 46%. Mainly Sweet with a few Sour and Dusty notes. Uneventful.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Raisins & Plums, Citrus Peel, Pear, Apple, Dusty Track, Hay/Grass, Milk Chocolate, Cinnamon, Pepper, Tobacco and Leather.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Brown Sugar, Musty Oak, Caffe Latte, Fresh Herbs (Mint), Kiwi, Peanuts, Cloves and Cardamom.


Finish:

Middle-Long and a little Thin. Mainly Sweet and Malty. Some Sour and Bitter notes towards the Dry end. I find Malted Barley, Toffee, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Milk Chocolate, Caffe Latte, Heather-Honey, Orange Peel, Raisins, Apple, Pear, Dusty Road, Oak, Nutella, Menthol, Pepper, Cinnamon and Cardamom.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and you will get more Fruit on the Nose. Peach and Banana. Palate and Finish become too Thin though. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 82.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience:

Okay/Good. Underwhelming!

Conclusion:

Cardhu means Black Rock. The Distillery is located in Knockando, Morayshire, some eight miles South-West of Aberlour. It was founded in 1824 by John Cumming and was bought in 1893 by John Walker & Sons. Today it belongs to the Diageo Group. Cardhu Single Malt is mostly known as a very important part of the Johnnie Walker Blends but it has always been a very popular Single Malt in Spain. Today, Diageo is looking to reposition the Cardhu Single Malt in other markets  as well. The Distillery possesses a Stainless Steel Full Lauter Mash Tun, 10 Wash Backs and 3 Pairs of Stills. In 2017 their total production amounted to around 3,4 million litres. The core range of the distillery includes the 12, 15 and 18 years and the NAS expressions Amber Rock and Gold Reserve.

The 18 Years was released in 2011. Usually my favourite Whiskies are in the 16-18 Years range but I can't include the Cardhu 18 unfortunately. It's not really bad but it's a very low profile Single Malt considering its age. Of course it should not have been Chill-Filtered and of course it deserves a higher ABV. The way it is presented, the Cardhu 18 years is a very "Middle of the Road" Single Malt with hardly any complexity. It will scare off no one and it's perfectly suitable for the beginning Whisky drinkers. Experienced Whisky drinkers will find it very bland. Perhaps not a coincidence as Cardhu is one of the work horse distilleries for the Johnnie Walker Blends. The Price range is okay when you consider its age, not so good when you consider its Aroma/Flavour profile. I keep thinking that the Cardhu 18 Years could be so much better with a little extra care, good casks and attention for details. Here's a challenge for you Diageo!


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Whisky Review # 750

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Allt-A-Bhainne 1995
Bottled By: Indie Bottler Chapter 7, Switzerland
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask # 166300 - 264 Bottles
Age: 18 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 59.2% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: Around US$ 130 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜€ Good Whisky. Quite Dry and Woody! Not for starters!

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

The high ABV and active Cask are noticeable right away. On the Nose, this Malt is a mix of Bitter, Sweet, Sour, Woody and Dusty notes. Quite Dry as well. Be sure to give it sufficient time in the glass to open up.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Cereals, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Grass/Straw, Caramel, Vanilla, Toffee, Hazelnut, Red Apple, Banana, Roasted Pineapple, Dusty Wooden Book Shelves, Orange Peel, Peach Jam, Cinnamon and Cocoa Powder.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins & Apricots, Dusty Track, Mature Bourbon,   Mandarin, Nectarine, Fresh Herbs, Caffe Latte, Leather, Nutmeg, Cloves, Pepper and Milk Chocolate.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Dry, Woody, Mature and a bit Hot. This Malt is really governed by its cask.

Main Flavours:

Toasted and Malted Cereals, Buttered Toast, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Dusty Oak, Orange Peel, Toasted Almonds, Toasted Pineapple, Straw, Milk Chocolate, Pepper and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Apple, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots and Coconut, Nutmeg, Ginger, Cocoa Powder, Menthol and Licorice.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Bitter Sweet and a little Hot. A few Sour and Herbal notes as well. I find Toasted Cereals, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Straw, Orange Peel, a mix of Nuts (Almonds and Hazelnuts), Toasted Pineapple, Herbal Tea, Grapefruit Juice, Sour Grapes, Apple, Cocoa Powder, Pepper, Cinnamon, Menthol, Ginger and Licorice. Quite Dry in the end.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and that helps of course to tame the Alcohol. I do not think the added Water significantly alters the Aroma/Flavour profile. It's just a bit easier to enjoy this Single Malt this way. I do notice a little Metallic note now that I didn't notice before. Anyway, this Alt-a-Bhainne accepts a little Water so just add a few drops at a time to find the perfect balance for you.

Rating: 86.5 

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5 

Drinking Experience:

Good.

Conclusion:

All-a-Bhainne was founded in 1975 by Chivas Brothers, basically as a supplier of Malt for their Blends. It was mothballed between October 2002 and May 2005. A distillery range of Single Malts does not exist so we have to look at Independent Bottlers. It's a large distillery with two pairs of stills that produce over 4 million litres per year.

It's not easy to encounter Allt-a-Bhainne Single Malts. This is my second review of this distillery. I kinda like the Spirit this distillery produces so a lot of what happens after distilling depends on the cask and the time of maturation. In this case I believe that cask 166300 was a very active one. It certainly left its mark on this Single Malt. Personally I think 15 years would have been enough. As it  is, this Allt-a-Bhainne is a well-made Single Malt that will please advanced fans. There's enough to discover despite the fact that the Wood really dominates the procedures. I think this distillery should reconsider its policy a little bit. I believe that a 15 Year old Distillery Bottling that matured in a First Fill Ex-Bourbon cask would be a potential cracker. Another challenge, this time for Pernod Ricard!



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Whisky Review # 751

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Longmorn 1991 - Distilled 30/04/1991
Bottled By: Carn Mor - Celebration of the Cask - Bottled 02/02/2015
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask 54953 - 191 bottles
Age: 23 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57.4% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: Bourbon Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 175-210 (July 2018)
Buying Advice:๐Ÿ˜‰ It's a Good Malt but very Woody. Too much so for me!

Colour:

Golden Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Full and Mature. It does not seem overly complex. Quite Malty. Be sure to give this Single Malt enough time in the glass. This Longmorn is slow to give away its Aroma treasures. I do get a few off-notes as well. Varnish is the first. The 2nd is a bit more difficult to describe. Iron Dust comes to mind although I don't think I've ever seen let alone smell it. Other than that the Nose is a combination of Sweet, Herbal and Sour notes. The Alcohol is strong.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Buttered Toast, Apple and Peach filled Pastry, Brown Sugar, Wax, Dusty Track, Dried Herbs, Old Oak, Straw, Lemon Peel, Gooseberry, Grapefruit, Pepper, Ginger, Cinnamon and Menthol.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Vanilla, Apple-Vinegar, Orange Peel, Papaya Cream with Cassis, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Nutmeg and old Leather.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet and Strong. Wood and Wood Spices are quite dominant. I believe this Longmorn should have been bottled a few years earlier. I miss a bit of much needed balance here. But that's personal of course.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Cereals, Apple- and Apricot filled Puff Pastry, Vanilla, Old Wood, Straw, Lemon, Seville Orange, Dusty Track, Walnuts, Menthol, Pepper, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Banana Ice Cream, Caramel, Papaya Cream with Cassis, Rum, Dark Chocolate, Herbal Tea, Cardamom and old Leather.

Finish:

Middle-Long, Strong, Woody and Bitter Sweet. Quite Spicy, Dry and a little Hot  towards the end. I find Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Toasted Cereals, Vanilla, Walnut, Apple, Seville Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, Cassis, Herbal Tea, Straw, Mature Bourbon, Earth, Pepper, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Licorice and old Leather.

Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Spirit relaxes. The off notes on the Nose disappear and the Fruit and Malt take over. Wood and Wood Spice still rule on the Palate and strong Menthol can be found in the Finish. I advise you to add a teaspoon of Water to this Longmorn.

Rating: 85

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 21 - Overall: 21.5

Drinking Experience:

Good. The Wood dominates the Spirit. Too much so for me personally.

Conclusion:

The Longmorn Distillery is located in Longmorn, Elgin and was founded in 1893 by John Duff, George Thomson and Charles Shirres. In 1897 John built the BenRiach Distillery quite close to Longmorn. Duff and Company went broke and ownership changed hands various times. In 1978 the distillery was bought by Chivas Brothers which in turn were acquired by Pernod-Ricard in 2011. Part of the production is used for blends like Chivas Regal, Something Special and the new Queen Anne.

Twenty Three years in an active cask is a long time and it shows! If you are a Malt fan of the Woody Woodpecker type you're gonna love this Longmorn. It's not quite my thing though. Wood and Wood Spices are too dominant, especially on the Palate and in the Finish. A little voice inside my head tells me that 18 years or so would have been quite enough for this Longmorn. I realise of course that this is highly personal. My personal Whisky motto is: The Cask should serve the Spirit. That's not the case here. The cask completely took over. If you like that, this Longmorn is just what you're looking for. If you don't you better spend your Whisky Dollars elsewhere. Cheers!

Jan van den Ende                                                                      July 9, 2018


Some of the Pictures were taken during our visits to these distilleries in May 2014.
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Macallan Gold Review - Macallan 12 Years Fine Oak Review - Macallan 1990 (Carn Mor Cask 11156) Review


“Highway To Hell or Heaven For Everyone” 
“Macallan Special” 

Introduction:

Most of you know that I mainly use samples and miniatures when preparing my Reviews. I usually buy these in Holland and sometimes in Germany or the UK. Sometimes I receive samples from friends or readers or independent bottlers. In only two cases I received a few samples directly from distilleries. When planning my reviews for the next months I always try to give attention to all Scottish Whisky regions as well as other Whisky/Whiskey/Bourbon producing regions all over the world with special attention to the USA, Ireland and Japan. And last but not least the blends. At the request of many readers I give preference to more recent expressions. As a result, my backlog of older samples has increased quite a bit. To do justice to those samples I will review them in the format of Specials. These specials will deal with a specific distillery like today or with specific bottlers, countries or regions. The reviews in these Specials will concentrate on the Whisky and won't go into details about distilleries, maturation etc. I do hope you will like these Specials just as much as my regular reviews and I look forward to your reactions and suggestions. In this special I will review three   Single Malts produced at the Speyside Macallan distillery. Enjoy!
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Whisky Review # 745

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Macallan Gold (1824 Series)
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: First-Fill and Refill Sherry Oak Casks from Jerez de la Fronteira.
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 45-55 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜’ Young, Rough and Thin. Macallan shouldn't be like this!

Colour:

Golden Amber with notes of Orange (Natural Colour).

Nose:

Young and Sweet with clear Sherry Wood influence. A few Dusty and Sour notes as well. I also pick up some Sulphur. This note tends to diminish over time so be sure to give the Gold enough time in the glass. Can't get excited by the Nose.

Main Aromas:

Porridge, Malted Cereals, Vanilla, Caramel, Toffee, Dried Fruit (Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots and Plums), Straw, Dusty Track, Yeast, Citrus Peel, Sour Cherries, Refill Oak and Nuts.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Floral Soap, Brown Sugar, Heather-Honey, Buttered Toast, Dried Herbs, Ginger, Ripe Banana and Dark Chocolate.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Young, Rough, Tannic and Thin. The Alcohol is quite noticeable.

Main Flavours:

Sugared Breakfast Cereals, Caramel, Toffee, Yeast, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Raisins, Apricots and Plums, Citrus Peel, Straw/Grass, Refill Oak, Dried Herbs, Nuts, Pepper, Cinnamon and Ginger.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Red Apple, Ripe Banana, Nail Polish Remover, Mint and Dark Chocolate.
Finish:

Rather Short. Sweet at first but with increasing Bitterness towards the Medium-Dry end. The Alcohol is quite noticeable and not in a very pleasant way. I keep getting Sulphur and a bit of Paint Thinner as well. It's quite rough for a Macallan  Single Malt. I find Toasted Cereals, Toffee, Salted Caramel, Vanilla, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Apricots and Plums, Red Apple, Ripe Banana, Citrus Peel, Heather Honey, Dark Chocolate, Refill Oak and Wood Shavings, Hay, Pepper, Cinnamon, Cloves and Ginger.


Drinking Advice:

The Gold does not improve with added water. It gets a bit less Rough but it also becomes too Thin.

Rating: 78.5

Nose: 20.5 - Taste: 19.5. - Finish: 19 - Overall: 19.5

Drinking Experience:

I'm totally disappointed with the Macallan Gold. It's way too Young and Rough for a Macallan. I'm glad that the distillery reviewed its portfolio recently!

Conclusion:

The Gold was launched in 2012 as the first expression of the 1824 Series. It was followed a year later by Amber, Sienna and Ruby. The Series were based on the natural colour of the Whisky and not on vintage or style. Some call it innovative while others believe it's just another marketing trick using younger Whisky while maintaining the same prices. It's probably a bit of both. Very recently, Macallan opened their new supersonic distillery and totally renewed their core range at the same time.

The Macallan is not an "easy" distillery for me to judge. When they're good, they are really good but also very expensive. I think it's one of the distilleries that is really suffering from the availability of large quantities of excellent Sherry Wood. They still get some of course but their production increases as well. The lesser casks are likely used for their less expensive and younger whiskies and that shows in Single Malts like the Gold. It's Young and Rough and Sulphury and Refill Oak notes show a relaxed Cask-Management. This is not the way forward for Macallan and I can't recommend this expression.



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Whisky Review # 746

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Macallan Fine Oak
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 40%
Maturation: American and European Sherry seasoned casks and Bourbon casks
Chill Filtration: Yes
Price Range: US$ 50-70 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜ Not bad but Thin and a bit Boring. Misses the Wow Factor!

Colour:

Light Golden (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Sweet, Floral, Fruity, mildly Spicy and Buttery. No sign of Sulphur here. Some Fresh Oak though. For sure better quality casks were used for the 12 Years Fine Oak. The Alcohol is not fully integrated.

Main Aromas:

Toasted Barley, Butter Kekse (German Butter Biscuits), Pineapple-filled Buttered Puff Pastry, Vanilla, Toffee, Hay, Grass, Nectarine, Milk Chocolate, Orange Peel, Almonds and Cinnamon.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Heather-Honey, Sherry, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Apricots, Cherry-Flavoured Candies, Refill - and Fresh Oak, Red Apple, Banana, Floral Soap, light Pepper and Ginger.



Palate:

A little too Thin. Bitter-Sweet with a few Sour notes. A combo of Floral, Fruity and Herbal notes. Not bad but not convincing either.

Main Flavours:

Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Caramel, Toffee, Straw/Grass, Almonds, Oak, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Pepper and Milk Chocolate.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Heather-Honey, Sherry, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Apricots and Plums, Citrus Peel, Red Apple, Grapefruit, Pineapple and Dates.

Finish:

Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. A few Sour notes as well. A little Rough and Thin. The Alcohol is noticeable. I find Sweet Barley, Vanilla, Toffee, Caramel, Heather-Honey, Dried Fruit like Raisins, Sultanas and Plums, Citrus Peel, Marzipan, Milk-Hazelnut Chocolate, Cherry-Flavoured Candies, Red Apple, Grapefruit, Herbs, Oak, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cloves and Ginger.


Drinking Advice:

I added a little Water and the Fruit enhances on the Nose. It also gets very Thin though and New Make Spirit is not too far away like this. Better sip it neat.

Rating: 82.5

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 20.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 20.5

Drinking Experience:

Okay/Good. This Macallan could do with a slightly higher ABV. It's a bit too Thin really.

Conclusion:

The Fine Oaks Series was released in 2004. The 12 Years expression is not bad but suffers from the low ABV. It's quite consistent from Nose to Finish but it does not pack a punch! This Macallan screams for a more adequate ABV. It's a better made Whisky than the Gold I've reviewed above and it matured in better casks. It's quite easy to drink but once swallowed it doesn't leave any lasting impact. You sort of forget about it right away. Beginning Whisky drinkers will like the 12 Years Fine Oak but advanced fans will easily get bored by this Macallan.


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Whisky Review # 747

Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Macallan 1990
Bottled By: Carn Mor (Celebration of the Cask) - Whisky Import Nederland 10th Anniversary.
Type: Single Malt Single Cask Whisky - Cask 11156 - 128 Bottles
Age: 20 Years - Distilled: 07/06/1990 - Bottled: 24/03/2011
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 50.7% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First Fill Sherry Hogshead
Chill Filtration: No
Price Range: US$ 350-450 (July 2018)
Buying Advice: ๐Ÿ˜‹ Nice Sherried Speysider. If you can afford and find it, buy it!

Colour:

Amber with shades of Orange (Natural Colour)

Nose:

Full, Strong and Mature. Be sure to give this Macallan enough time in the glass. Lots of Fruit, mainly of the Dried variety. Sweet but not in a cloyingly way. The Wood influence is substantial. This Macallan could have been bottled a few years earlier perhaps. Good cask though.

Main Aromas:

Creamy Barley, Buttered Toast, Vanilla, Sherry, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Plums, Figs, Dates and Apricots, Straw/Grass, Varnished and Waxed Oak, Citrus Peel, Dried Herbs, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg and Ginger.

Supportive Aroma Accents:

Old Book Shelves, Dunnage Warehouse, Brown Sugar, Yeast, Dough, Honeydew Melon, Ripe Red Apples, Poire Williams, Strong Espresso with Cognac, Cloves, Pepper and Dark Chocolate.


Palate:

Bitter-Sweet, Mature, Tannic, Woody, Fruity and Spicy. Quite Dry. Good cask.

Main Flavours:

Toasted Barley, Brown Sugar, Buttered Toast, Thick Dark Honey, Dried Fruit like Sultanas, Plums, Apricots and Mango, Dried Herbs, Polished and Waxed Old Oak Furniture, Citrus Peel, Strong Espresso with Cognac/Armagnac, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Ginger and Cinnamon.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Caramel, Grass/Straw, Slightly Sour Berries, Pineapple Jam, Seville Orange, Tea, Nutmeg, Cloves and Cardamom.

Finish:

Long and Warming. Tannic, Woody and Herbal towards the Dry end. I find Sweet Toasted Barley, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Honey, Dusty old Book shelves, Waxed and Polished Old Furniture, Dried Herbs, Seville Orange, Dried Fruit like Plums & Dates and Mango, Strong Espresso, Cognac, Dark Chocolate, Pepper, Cloves and Nutmeg.


Drinking Advice:

I added a few drops of Water and the Nose relaxes. The Fruit shines even more and I find some additional Poire Williams and Gooseberry. Palate and Finish do not change in a significant way but the Spirit is just easier to enjoy this way. I certainly advise you to add a few drops of Water.

Rating: 88.5

Nose: 22.5 - Taste: 22 - Finish: 22 - Overall: 22

Drinking Experience:

Very Nice and Interesting.

Conclusion:

They say that life is too short to drink bad Whisky and after this Macallan 1990 I almost tend to agree. It would be an ideal world if I could taste Single Malts like this everyday. But you only have to look at the price level of this Malt to realise that that's impossible for most Whisky lovers including me. But let me forget the price for a minute and concentrate on the whisky. This is a very good Sherry cask matured Single Malt. The Aromas and Flavours are many fold and natural. There's nothing synthetic about this Macallan. I have spend hours with this Single Malt and loved every minute of it. Just good Spirit that matured in a good cask. Perhaps a few years too long as the Wood just starts to dominate a little bit. But still a very good and interesting Whisky. Would love to own a full bottle!

Jan van den Ende                                                                        July 2, 2018

The pictures were taken during our visit to Macallan in May 2014.