The Macallan has moved almost wholly into NAS whisky in recent years, although a harbinger of change has appeared recently in the form of an upcoming 12 year old release called “Double Cask”, probably trying to get Macallan back on track with an age stated sherry matured whisky. The difference is that while the old 12 year old is matured in traditional sherry casks, and the Fine Oak series is mostly ex bourbon casks, these new casks are sherry seasoned European and American oak. The proof, of course, is in the liquid, and I look forward to seeing if it might, indeed, rectify the downward sloping course the distillery has taken in the past few year.
Again, on its own, NAS is neither bad nor good. I’ve stated time and time again that each whisky is judged by me on its merits. Some NAS whisky is good (like the Macallan Oscuro), other is not so good (like the Macallan Ruby) or just downright terrible (like the Macallan Gold). This is no different than age stated whisky, which can be anything from terrible to utterly divine.
The Rare Cask is part of the 1824 series, to which the current core range belong. In Macallan’s description of this whisky it’s stated that “Combining Spanish and American sherry seasoned oak casks, a high proportion of them first fill”, kind of sounds like the 12 year old Double Cask. I very much hope the 12 year old will be better than this expression.
Macallan Rare Cask (43% ABV)
Appearance: Bronze, thin legs.
Nose: Classic sherry nose with sultanas and some mild wood spices. But there’s also vanilla and a lighter sweet note. Chocolate and dried fruit meet, with some cereal.
Palate: Spicy rather than sweet. The spice is quite a bit more than was expected. A lot of oaky bitterness, but not balanced in the way that the nose would suggest. Pepper, even some cayanne with a wave of sherry but without substance. Bitter, but unbalanced.
Linger: Medium with pepper and a mild drying, with an annoying ring coating the top of the throat. Some bitterness, but not the type that makes me love a whisky.
Another NAS Macallan, and sadly rather disappointing. This isn’t young whisky, at least for the most part. The nose is fabulous, but the palate and linger are very disappointing.