MANILA -- Renowned Speyside whisky distillery Macallan completes its core collection in its Double Cask range with the launch of its 15-year-old and 18-year-old expressions.
The Double Cask range was first introduced back in 2016 with the 12-year-old. With this expression, Macallan gave a preview of its blend of whiskies aged in European oak and American oak ex-sherry casks.
With these new 15-year-old and the 18-year-old expressions, Macallan levels ups and refines what made the 12-year-old stand out.
Macallan takes pride as one of the few distilleries that have total control over cask production. Macallan takes a lot of pride in the story of its casks. It collaborated renowned Magnum photographer Steve McCurry, best known for “The Afghan Girl” National Geographic cover, to chronicle the journey from wood to whisky cask.
The casks start out as American oak from the forests of Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky, and European oak from Spain and the Pyrenees. Steve McCurry
Selected wood is then sent all around Spain to build the casks. Cask makers cut these into wood staves and are toasted to release the natural sugars in the wood. Steve McCurry
The casks are assembled from the staves and then given the 'high toast' -- heated with flames to give the casks that distinctive curve. Steve McCurry
The casks are then seasoned with oloroso sherry wine for one-and-a-half years to remove the harsh flavors in the wood in bodegas like these in Jerez, Spain. Steve McCurry
It takes about five years for these casks to be used for whisky. Only then are the casks brought back to the Macallan estate. Macallan fills these ex-sherry casks and ages them for years until they’re ready to be blended, bottled, and sipped by whisky drinkers all over the world. Steve McCurry
The traditional Macallan style of whisky uses European oak with the more tannic flavors such as raisin and dried fruit spice. With the use of American oak, they introduce sweeter flavors like vanilla and citrus orange.
According to Macallan brand ambassador Hans Eckstein, this blend made the 12-year-old expression an instant classic, especially for those new whisky drinkers.
“Sometimes purely European oak ex-sherry can be a little bit heavy, a little bit rich on the palate. The added element of the American oak makes it more approachable,” explained Eckstein.
The result is a whisky that’s generally sweeter. The expressions are easy on the nose without any of that hostile ethanol punch associated with sniffing whiskies.
The 12-year-old double oak would make a very good base for an Old Fashioned. Taken neat, it is a sweet whisky with some of the sharp finish typical of a 12-year-old. Eckstein recommends pairing this with seafood for its fruity acidity.
As the expressions get older, the sipping experience takes a noticeable jump. With the 15-year-old, that sharp finish has been tempered and the mouthfeel becomes richer and oilier. The citrus notes take a back seat as the sweet toffee flavors come forward.
With the 18-year-old, the difference is even more pronounced. The mouthfeel was even thicker and much more indulgent. It takes on a deeper sugar and honey flavors with a refined, polished finish with none of the sharpness associated with whisky.
It would be a shame to use the 15-year-old or the 18-year-old in a cocktail. These are meant to be sipped neat and savored slowly without anything to distract the drinker from its inherent pleasures. These older expressions are also a fine introduction to one of the greatest pleasures of drinking whisky -- that of a creamy, rich, oily, syrupy whisky coating your tongue.
In summary, the Double Cask range is a whisky for those who want to sit back and just relax with a dram. It has something for everybody -- sweetness and friendly notes for someone just getting into scotch, and that indulgently rich mouthfeel for grizzled whisky drinkers.
The Macallan Double Cask expressions are now available at liquor stores and major supermarkets, as well as on Thirst.com.ph and singlemalt.ph.