Macallan Ruby – The Modern Take on the Classic Sherry Macallans of Old

Tomorrow I’ll be celebrating my birthday, and start my 46th orbit around our local star. Incidentally, my birthday dram (to be reviewed tomorrow) will also be my 500th single malt. In the meantime, we’ll be closing out my 45th year with a review of the Macallan Ruby.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

The Macalla Ruby is comprised of 100% first fill European oak sherry casks. I can understand those who prefer it as the best of the range, and still find it to be much flatter than the Sherry Oak 18, which presumably it’s supposed to replace. I wasn’t impressed, and gathered from the people at my table at the masterclass that this sentiment was shared. You’re drinking a Macallan sherry bomb and not loving it…something is really wrong here.

Before getting to my notes on the Ruby, I’d like to share my overall impression of the series. It seems that Macallan made a conscious choice to hit the lowest possible denominator in order to sell as much whisky as possible. As someone who has had a decent selection of the older Macallan, these expressions were but pale shadows both to the highly acclaimed Sherry Oak series and to the the Fine Oak series. Right after the Ruby, I had a dram of the Fine Oak 21, and the first thought that crossed my mind was “this is a Macallan”….

While never having been a huge Macallan fanboy, I had a lot of respect for the whisky they produced, and never turned down an offered Macallan dram. I can honestly say that I would very likely skip all the 1824 series expressions, with the possible exception of the Sienna, if offered outside a professional setting (like a tasting or an event where a toast was required and only one of these was available). I’m saddened to see a distillery which was the standard bearer in the industry stoop so low. Again, I want to be clear that this isn’t about age statements as I have given excellent reviews to NAS whisky (like the Edrington owned sister distillery’s Highland Park Dark Origins).


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Macallan Ruby (NAS, 43% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Bronze with a reddish tinge, slow to form legs.

Nose: This is more of a sherry whisky than the others in the series with notes of dried fruit, susultanas, cinnamon, warm Christmas cake, dry wood, wood spice and a light balsamic tinge. The nose is, nevertheless, rather light.

Palate: Mouth coating and dry, with wood tannins and sweetness mixing. Curiously, the spices are lacking from the palate, making for a rather shallow palate.

Linger: Medium-long with a dry effect on the sides of the cheeks and some latent sweetness.


While not impressive in any way, it’s drinkable whisky. It lacks depth of flavor and would not rally make any sherry bomb aficionado lose his head. Should you pay  £125 for it? I think the answer is self evident, considering that you could walk out of a store with the far superior Glenfarclas 21 and still have 45 quid left with which you could buy a bottle of (again, far superior) Glendronach 15, and still have money left to take the tube home.

I’ll conclude this series with the words of the Kaiser Chiefs in their so aptly titled song “Ruby”:

Due to lack of interest
Tomorrow is canceled
Let the clocks be reset
And the pendulums held

I fear this is where Macallan has gone. I hope someone there will have the good sense to stop the madness!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *