The Macallan 10 year old is the October Malt of the Month.
The Macallan is a famous marque of scotch whisky. It has traditionally been one of the most sought after single malt whiskies. Before all the marketing BS, its reputation was built on producing a very narrow cut of new make spirit, and ageing it in the richest Olorosso Sherry casks. The Macallan 10 year old is no exception. Confusingly, though The Macallan bottle labels state “Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky”, the brand prefers to be known as a Speyside whisky. As Speyside is technically a subregion of the Highlands, it is allowed.)
When wort (which is exactly beer minus the hops) is heated, molecules which evaporate at lower temperatures than water start to turn into vapour. The lightest of these are called the foreshots, which contain lots of toxic compounds and unpleasantly harsh flavours. At the other extreme is the feints, which are heavier compounds. These also tend to be unpleasant. In between the foreshots and the feints is the heart, or the cut which contains mostly ethanol and certain delightful ester flavours.
Macallan’s stills are very small. The copper in the stills removes sulphur and form more esters. By using very small stills, there is more surface area relative to volume, hence less sulphur and more esters. Sulphur creates unpleasant odours, whereas esters are very pleasant, and add a creamy mouthfeel.
Macallan was so good and created such a reputation that its success was its own undoing. It ran out of its signature sherry oak barrels, so had to change to a “fine oak”, which was a blend of what ever they could find. Needless to say this was a significant dent to its reputation. Finally though, Macallan has rebuilt its stocks of sherry aged barrels, and has released a 10 year old solely aged in sherry oak casks. So I taste this whisky with some nervous trepidation.
Wow, what a great whisky the Macallan 10 year old is. It is surprisingly delicate on the front pallet, which is surprising given the aroma it puts out, full of dried fruits, nuts, some citrus, coffee, treacle and golden syrup. The flavour kicks in the middle pallet with a richness of flavour. The finish is seriously dry, like a water cracker and leaves a fisherman’s friend flavour (aniseed, I guess).