The Bottom Line
- A scotch portfolio that has yet to be a let down.
- Sipping scotch that anyone can enjoy.
- Single malt speyside scotch aged for between 10 and 30 years in Spanish sherry oak and American oak (used and new) casks.
- Retails for around (750ml bottles): $55 Sherry Cask 12 Year Old, $80 Fine Oak 15 Year Old
- 43% alc/volume (86 proof)
Guide Review - The Macallan 12 YO Sherry Oak and 15 YO Fine Cash Scotch Whisky
In March 2010 The Macallan put together a tasting note project on Twitter with SXSW in Austin, Texas that put the 12 year old sherry oak and 15 year old fine oak in front of drinkers of all calibers. The results reflected my impressions and in browsing the tweets, I believe that these are scotches that anyone can enjoy, though there is some dispute as to which is better. Some people liked the spiciness of the sherry oak while others preferred the more subtle characteristics of the fine oak. I could go either way and would choose one over the other based on the mood of the moment because each has their place and are distinctly different from the other.
I always find the aging processes of individual spirits interesting and in this instance it tells a lot about the characteristics of the two whiskies. The Sherry Oak range is aged in Spanish oak casks whose wood has been dried in the north and south of Spain before sherry is aged inside, after which it is sent to the River Spey distillery to be used for the whisky. The Fine Oak range uses some of these same barrels, but also employs new American oak casks from Kentucky and used bourbon barrels, and from all of these a marriage of whiskies is obtained by The Macallan's Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno. If you can, I encourage you to put these two "oak" expressions side by side because it is a great example of what different aging practices can do to what is essentially the same scotch.
The Sherry Oak is lighter in color and the overall taste experience than the Fine Oak, though it is considerably spicier and in one word I would call it a "sprighty" scotch. The Fine Oak is darker, warmer and, in general, a more refined scotch. As one tweet from the tasting note project alluded to, you can taste the difference of three years. Yet that is not completely fair because, yes you can taste the age but it is also the American oak that you are tasting in the Fine Oak. If these are the mid range of each of these lines I can only imagine and hope to get a taste of the older expressions because remarkable "young" scotch has to be astounding with 15 odd years added to it.