Macallan 10 year old Fine Oak is reviewed by Steve Crotty
The Macallan 10 Year Old Fine Oak Edition
Speyside Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Approximate price £25 – 30
Some companies are regarded as being at the zenith of their industry. Through hard work or high quality output they have risen above the mediocrity of their competitors to a point when they are removed from the economic chain, where recessions are not a threat but a minor hindrance to their sales. I apologise if this sounds like a business lecture, but such is the reputation that Macallan carries that I felt it necessary to quantify. In the whisky world Macallan is the king of Speyside.
Multi award-winning, critically acclaimed and with a huge and dedicated fan base (although the Ardbegites and the JD lovers are still the most devoted) it already seems unnecessary of me to review the whisky. However, all these plaudits and accolades reverberating around my head mean that I intend to attack the Fine Oak with my most acerbic critiquing skills. Game on.
The 10 Year Old Fine Oak edition is Macallan’s cheapest and most readily accessible expression available; the name deriving from the fact that the spirit has been matured in three different casks throughout its childhood, namely Spanish and American Sherry casks as well as American Bourbon.
The whisky’s producers describe the colour as pale straw and it’s hard to disagree with that statement. Does this indicate the spirit hasn’t been in the barrel for long enough to pick up some oak colour and presence? Is this a chink in the infallible armour of Macallan? Not really. If anything it merely indicates no spirit caramel has been added to the product to up the colour. Macallan favour all things natural, and 10 years is still fairly young in the whisky world so we can forgive this upstart its pale complexion.
If the colour belied a presence of oak then the nose certainly reverses this trend. It is apparent as soon as I lower my nose to the glass. Counterbalancing this is the lively grape resonating from the sherry casks that were used in maturation. Neither aroma falls over the other to get its point across; the two gracefully complementing each other long after you’ve actually stopped inhaling.
The taste is something altogether more unquantifiable. First of all this is smooth, as smooth as any whisky I have tried so far; there is not a trace of young alcohol to be found. Don’t let this delicate Speysider hoodwink you into a tranquil state though. Underpinning that smoothness and clarity is a heavy oak presence that hides itself from the palate initially only to come steaming up from the back like a goalkeeper coming up for a corner in the dying seconds of a cup match. But there’s more: a sherry presence on the finish that waits for the oak to have its say before delivering its fruit encore. All these flavours are surprising and yet delicate enough to never be overpowering. Water and/or a mixer are a waste here, muting flavours that do not need to be quelled.
I would have loved to tell you that The Macallan Fine Oak was a disappointment, that all the hyperbole and acclaim were nothing more than romanticist corporate advertising. If I was to have any criticism it would be that it is too drinkable, that kick of malt that is so synonymous with whisky not really evident at any stage. This is a minor gripe though. When you have clarity and balance in abundance like this does, you can’t help but feel that Macallan deserves its place at the top of the whisky pile. My next purchase is now also obvious; bring on the 10 year old Sherry Edition.
Overall Rating 8/10