Macallan 15, 1995 (A.D. Rattray)

Macallan15, 1995
This is a somewhat unusual Macallan as it is from a single bourbon cask. Macallan’s own We’re Running Out of Sherry Casks and Need to Change Our Story Fine Oak series, of course, includes ex-bourbon whisky in the vattings but I’m not sure if any of those are from only bourbon casks (the labels all say “Triple Cask Matured”). At any rate, it’s the only Macallan I’ve had that I know to be from only bourbon wood. Now I wait for my readers to tell me that in Belgium and Austria only bourbon cask Macallan has ever been available.

Macallan 15, 1995 (46%; A.D. Rattray; bourbon cask 11251; from my own bottle)

Nose: Mellow fruit–dried apricots, figs, pluots (no, I haven’t forgotten that this is a bourbon cask). With time there’s some citrus and a mild musky note. With more time there’s a hint of toasted wood as well. Water brightens it up, emphasizing the citrus and bringing out more malt. 

Palate: Fruity just as on the nose but there’s a lot more citrus here–oranges, candied lemon peel. A malty sweetness below the fruit and then some toasted wood shows up, trailed late by some wood spice that doesn’t quite mesh with the fruit. Water gives it a little more acidic bite and integrates the wood a little better with the fruit.

Finish: Medium. The fruit lingers but at the end the wood/spice has a little too much to say. Water integrates the notes on the finish as well.

Comments: I opened this bottle for a tasting last month, and I have to say I didn’t like it quite as much then as I do now. I wish the fruitiness were a little more intense and the wood/spice a little less obtrusive on the finish, but I really do like it tonight. I wonder if it was bottled at 46% because the wood was far more expressive at full strength. But, on the whole, this is a good advertisement for bourbon cask Macallan: bring it on, I say, and stop messing around with colour-coded whisky.

Rating: 85 points.

6 thoughts on “Macallan 15, 1995 (A.D. Rattray)

  1. I recently purchased a cask strength Macallan 15 also bottled by AD Rattray. While mine was distilled in 1997 and bottled in 2012, it’s also an ex-bourbon cask. As such I get very different tasting notes. The wood spices are a lot more muted but the fruit and vanilla dominate. And the Macallan is very creamy texture-wise.

    The Macallan Fine Oak series has ex-sherry casks blended with the ex-bourbon whisky so there is a very light sherry note when tasting. Entirely ex-bourbon Macallan appears to be only available from the independents.


  2. It seems like you got a much better one. Is it still around in the US? Perhaps you could run an experiment and dilute a pour down to 46% and see if the fruit gets muted and the wood/spice expands.


    • Beltramo’s still has a few bottles if you’re ever in California. It was $110 which is expensive for 15 years old (but a better bang for your buck compared to the 43% Macallan 15 Fine Oak). But I wanted to try an ex-bourbon Macallan.

      Almost forgot to mention that it’s 54.3%.


    • I’m giving this a taste (bottle is at the halfway mark) and I think the wood notes are more prevalent on the finish. Nose-wise, I’m reminded of a vanilla and lemon cookie and it remains even when water is added. Water also makes the palate creamier. I really don’t detect any spice in this one.

      What’s interesting is this tastes nothing like a Macallan. Had I been given this blind I probably would have named another Speyside distillery (maybe Glenlivet Nadurra?).


  3. Finishing this bottle tonight and now it’s much sweeter than it was at the time of this review, with berries and cream and less wood impact on the palate and finish, and also less citrus. I’d probably give it the same score though.


  4. I just consumed the sample that Mao graciously provided. I had a similar experience: lots of fruits, reminiscent of ex-sherry whisky, in this ex-bourbon cask, but also plenty of woody vanilla (the generic kind, like in a vanilla wafer). Buttery, with a hint of citrus. Bitter finish. Not a remarkable whisky in my book. In fact, I liked the Macallan 10yo Fine Oak better. As Mao hinted, the wood is strong in this one.


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