Macallan 9yo 1999/2008 (46%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt, for Van Wees, First Fill Sherry Hogshead #12378)

Wow, look at his colour! I’ll explain shortly what I mean. Also, unusually dark for a Speymalt from this vintage. For those of you who don’t know, here we have an independently bottled Macallan. Maybe this is the way to go for the non-millionaires amongst us, since the owners of Macallan seem to have gone completely over-the-top bonkers with the “brand”, super premiumizing it, crystallizing the bottles, teletubbying the distillery and… well you know what I mean. Let’s shy away from the marketing and focus on quality then. The quality of Macallan’s distillate, the quality of what we’re getting, putting this quality distillate in a quality Sherry cask the good people of Gordon & MacPhail provided for this distillate and reviewing this drinkers’ Macallan…

Color: Vibrant mahogany! No it’s not just orange-brown, it’s mahogany, and it’s only mahogany when it has this redness to it, a red flame if you wish.

Nose: Restrained for a short while. Wonderful Sherry and woody notes. Ever so slightly waxy and also fresh and airy. Milk chocolate, with a tiny hint of smoke, which most likely came into the mix from the burnt insides of the cask. Next, some pencil shavings. Smells fantastic. Quality Sherry cask. Classic Macallan. Not a lot of vanilla, so, I’m hardly guessing, this was matured in european oak, although I do pick up on a slightly creamy note as well. Hard to explain why, but this smells luxurious, elegant and perfumy. Reminiscent of the great Macallans from earlier decades. Remember the times before Fine Oak, and all the stuff that came after that. Remember the days of, “…which science can’t wholly explain…”? Elegant and fruity and in no way, harsh nor overpowered by the first fill Sherry. Not cloying nor heavy. Excellent cask.

Taste: Smoky and slightly tarry. Black coal. Thin honey, yet not a lot of vanilla sweetness. Initially very, very nice. Reminds me of the Macallans, Strathisla’s and Longmorn’s, when Gordon & MacPhail bottles still had screw caps and were bottled @ 40% ABV. (…and still had enough power)! The body is about Sherry and wood, beautiful spicy, and perfumy, wood, and shows a little bit of nice woody bitterness as well. Soft and silky bitterness, which adds to the overall flavour of the Whisky. Quite fruity and almost drinks like red fruit lemonade. Nice notes of mocha and coffee with milk. Rather short finish though. This is where the relative youth comes in, but I don’t think this should have stayed in cask longer. First fill Sherry can be a brutal thing! Short bursts of warming and red fruity notes. And the aftertaste lingers longer than the finish was. Again classic style.

On the other hand, maybe, this could have stayed in cask longer, since in no way it is overoaked. The flavours could have been more powerful, and the cask itself seems very elegant and good. Or maybe it should have been bottled at cask strength, who knows. This might have had some more to it in the end. For me the best bit of this Whisky is the start, when you take a sip and keep it in your mouth for a while before swallowing. Nice woody and licorice notes start emerging that way. Tar and coal. Wonderful stuff. Tiny hint of the typical acidity from rather new oak, which is a different note from fruity acidity, mind you.

The ABV, is slightly higher than the regular expression of the Speymalt from 1999/2008 which was bottled @43% ABV. Darker as well. Still it manages to come across a bit thin. Would it be too harsh at cask strength or is it an economical move by Van Wees? As in, if you dilute it with water you get more bottles from the hoggie? Probably not since it’s a Speymalt. All things considered, this is a classic Macallan. Wonderful stuff. Sure, maybe more could have come from this, maybe not, but I’d still get it as it is. Most definitely I would. Much better than many, and I mean, many modern Macallans, bottled by the (owners of the) distillery themselves. Highly drinkable, so a bottle of this wouldn’t last long…

Points: 89

Macallan 1980/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)

Next up an already rather “old” Macallan. Macallan is a brand with a huge reputation as a Sherried Speysider, and therefore a huge following. The quality is unmistakable there, just have a look what older bottles fetch these day at auctions. Since the “new” Fine Oak series, Macallan have again a huge reputation, but this time more as a marketing giant, but again with a huge following. Alas from a connoisseurs point of view it not thát much of a Sherried Speysider anymore, not as they used to.

This is an independently bottled Macallan, and it doesn’t look like a heavily Serried Speysider. If I’m not mistaken Gordon & MacPhail can bottle Macallans in the Speymalt series, with a vintage, when the distillery themselves do not have a vintage of that same year themselves.

Macallan 1980/2012 (43%, Gordon & MacPhail, Speymalt)Color: Orange gold

Nose: Hmmmm, fabulously old and waxy smelling Speysider we have here. Lovely! Old soaked wood and very deep half-sweetness. The initial blast of fruitiness, and waxiness leave the building. What comes next is dry and dusty. The wood turns into old cardboard, but it works. It’s not an in your face Sherried Speysider, but definitely a very nice and elegant Macallan. Quality stuff. Toast and burn paper in the finish of the nose. Hints of a bonfire and vanilla (pudding). The nose is top-class.

Taste: Sweet with an edge. Estery and some acidity, that makes for great balance. Creamy and soft-toffee. Hints of black tea and a tiny hint of anise. Hardly any wood, which is a bit odd after give or take 32 years in the cask. The wood does show itself in the tiny bitter (and soapy) bite that graces the finish.

Absolutely a fine nose, alas the taste doesn’t match up. It somehow lacks some complexity. Having said that it is a damn fine Whisky, that for the price is easy drinkable. Gone before you know it. Therefore easily a favorite when on my shelves. For me a tad too much reduction here, I would have liked this at 46% ABV. Old Fino?

Points: 89

Thanks to Stan for the sample!