Here is the second of the recent Macallan trio from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. As I noted on Monday, the SMWS took whisky that had matured in oloroso butts for 10 years and then put it into different cask types for a further two. Monday’s 12 year old spent its last two years in bourbon casks. This one spent two more years in oloroso—in the original casks? in re-coopered oloroso hogsheads? I do not know. Well, I was not hugely impressed by the bourbon cask—too much alcohol and too much oak for my taste. This oloroso cask is at an even higher abv, but will the sherry cover up some of the oak? Let’s see.
Macallan 12, 2008 (63.6%; SMWS 24.149; oloroso casks; from a bottle split)
Nose: Rich oloroso notes (big surprise): raisins, cherry liqueur, dried orange peel, a bit of salt and a mildly beany note. Not much sign of oak on the first few sniffs but it emerges as it sits and gets some air: a big tannic burn that begins to cut through the rich notes. With more time the oak calms down a bit and the fruit reasserts itself (orange peel and cherry now joined by some apricot jam). A few drops of water and there’s much better integration of the fruit and the oak, and there’s some leather too now.
Palate: Yeah, the oak (and the alcohol) make far more of an impact here from the get-go and a sourness dominates the fruit. The texture is rich. Not much change from sip to sip. Let’s give it some air. The sourness from the oak subsides a bit and there’s better integration but this needs water. Yes, water allows the richer notes to come to the top and the oak gets less sour and more spicy.
Finish: Long. Hot and uninteresting at first with a bit of sherry separation. Improves, as on the palate, with time and air. With water it’s spicier and then sweeter here at the end.
Comments: Well, this was not terribly promising neat even though the sherry covers up the big oak and alcohol on the nose. As with the bourbon cask, the nose was more interesting throughout. The palate improved a fair bit with water but I don’t know that it adds up to very much more than the bourbon cask in the end. Will the PX make it into the next tier?
Rating: 84 points.