Macallan is one of the most popular and well known Scotch whiskies in the world. While some of their older age statements come at a very high price point, their 12 year double cask is much more affordable. Aged in Sherry seasoned American oak and European oak, I’m going to see if this pour is worth it.
While I tend to drink much more bourbon and rye whiskey, I’m exploring more and more scotch.
- Spirit: Highland Single Malt Scotch
- Owned By: Edrington Group
- Distilled By: The Macallan Distillery
- Aged: 12 Years
- ABV: 43%, 86 proof
- Mashbill: 100% malted barley
- Price: $65
Let’s talk a bit about Scotch for a second. There are, generally speaking, two ways to categorize Scotch whisky. First is by the whisky itself. Second is by the region it’s produced in.
Types of Scotch
There are 5 types of scotch whisky – Single Malt and Single Grain, Blended Malt and Blended Grain, and just Blended.
- Single Malt whisky is produced at a single distillery and uses 100% malted barley
- Single Grain whisky is produced at a single distillery and uses various grains in addition to malted barley
- Blended Malt is a blend of single malts from 2 or more distilleries.
- Blended Grain is a blend of single grains from 2 or more distilleries.
- Blended scotch is a blend of malt and grain whisky.
Macallan, then, is made of 100% malted barley and is wholly produced at the Macallan Distillery.
Regions of Scotch
There are also 5 regions of Scotland when it comes to whisky.
If you’re familiar with Scotch at all, you should at least recognize Highlands, Speyside, and Islay. Islay is coastal and it’s where most of the heavily peated scotch comes from.
Speyside, the area surrounding the River Spey, is a small area, but it holds roughly 60% of all Scotch distilleries.
Here’s the catch. Speyside is actually a sub-region of the Highlands, so if a distillery is located in the Speyside region, they can market themselves as a Highland scotch.
Macallan, for example, is located right next to the River Spey. It’s a Highland Single Malt because that’s how they choose to describe themselves, but they could easily call their whisky a Speyside Single Malt.
Macallan 12 Double Cask Profile
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time to discuss the important stuff. Is Macallan 12 Double Cask good? What does it taste like? Let’s pour myself a dram and find out!
Nose: Honey, butterscotch, sugar and berries, sherry, plum. Bright with rich fruits.
Palate: Shortbread cookies and lots of rich, jammy fruits. You can definitely see the role of the sherry seasoned casks. A little smoke and oak comes in to play at the back end of the palate.
Finish: The toasted oak and smoke transitions to the finish with just a touch of nuttiness. A pleasant finish that is light but lasts longer than expected.
I’d had a glass of Macallan 12 Double Cask when the bottle was first opened – a very small glass – and I thought it was very forgettable. Just your average, run-of-the-mill scotch.
This second time around, I have a much more favorable opinion of it. I don’t know if it’s the interaction with oxygen over the last two weeks or something else, but Macallan 12 Double Cask was more flavorful and more complex with this glass.
Macallan 12 Double Cask isn’t outkicking its price point of $65, but it certainly displays its value. It plays as a bright, easy sipping, single malt with subtle complexities. It won’t be the most unique or exciting of any good lineup, but this is a good and approachable expression.
What is Double Cask?
Double Cask refers to the fact that the Scotch is aged in two separate casks – Sherry seasoned European Oak and Sherry seasoned American Oak.
These European and American casks hold sherry inside of them before being dumped and filled with Scotch. After a minimum of 12 years, whisky from these separate casks are blended together to give us Macallan 12 Double Cask.
The 15 or 18 yr selection of Macallan is going to run you a couple hundred bucks. The 25 or 30 Year…? A couple thousand.
If you have the means and the desire to spend that much, then be my guest. However, the 12 Year (or 15 Year) Double Cask will probably have to suffice for most of us. And that’s okay because it’s a pleasant whisky.
It may not knock your socks off or jump into your all time favorites list, but it’s approachable, complex, and fairly priced.