Let’s get this out in the open and drop the disclaimer and start off by saying I am not a scotch whisky drinker nor a seasoned alcoholic but I do enjoy the occasional bar rail drink from time to time as long as it’s not beer. So the question is, what am I doing at The Macallan Scotch Whisky tasting event? Well, let me say that this has been an education as I have discovered a whole new world out there.
Whisky produced in Scotland can officially be called Scotch Whisky and “The Macallan” name is synonymous with whisky of superior quality and legendary history.
It was a cold and damp Thursday night. The venue was 99 Sudbury Street. We were asked to arrive between 6pm to 6:30pm, and I knew there was a session at 7:30pm so we had a strict schedule to follow as eager scotch whisky tasters were herded in. Upon entry, we were met with a friendly welcome as each person was given a token for a glass of Macallan 10 (Macallan’s 10 year old single malt, matured in the sherry casks for which it is famous for).
We were instructed to take a plate of food with us before the actual guided tasting to help pad the alcohol that we were about to consume. The selection consisted of cheeses, different cured meats, olives, breads, and grapes.
The food table was tucked away to the side so the line up was quite long at one point (and the use of awkward forks didn’t help either). One suggestion would have been to place the table in a more central location so that guests could partake with more space. Nonetheless, there was plenty of food for everyone. The food was still good as I ate everything with the Macallan 10, which was strong, but manageable.
A little after 7pm, we were asked to enter the next room that was set up with numerous tables and chairs. On the tables, were mats (to guide our tasting) along with water, a spit container/bucket, and a glass of mixed nuts.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to enjoy a second round of meats and cheeses so the nuts were going to have to keep me satiated during the scotch whisky tasting. As the audience took their seats we were introduced to the history and the making of the Macallan, rich in quality and tradition. I always appreciate a product when I learn about the process and the years of development it takes to achieve the current state.
We were walked through a tasting of:
- The Macallan Sherry Oak 12: Deliciously smooth, with rich dried fruits and sherry, balanced with wood smoke and spice. Described by Paul Pacult, the renowned international whisky writer, in his book Kindred Spirits as: “simply the best 12 Year Old single malt around”.
- The Macallan Fine Oak 15: Macallan 15 year-old Fine Oak is matured in a combination of Bourbon & Sherry Oak Casks. This range has been around for a few years now and seems to have weathered the storm it caused amongst the faithful when it was initially released. This one is probably the pick of the (Fine Oak) bunch.
- The Macallan Sherry Oak Cask Strength: A cask strength Tormore from 1994, bottled in 2007
- The Macallan Sherry Oak 18: The latest vintage of Macallan 18yo is from 1991. A benchmark: not just for Macallan, but for aged whisky everywhere.
As we sampled each, we were taught how to appreciate the aromas by inhaling with a slightly open mouth. It’s amazing what you can experience when you actually know what you should be looking for.
One notable mention would be that if one individual were to consume the whole lot samples one after the other they would surely require some assistance trying to get out the front door let alone make it all the way home. There was that much alcohol content! This is where I would have loved to have my seat next to the meat and cheese sampling table.
Luckily, the guests savoured each sample responsibly, and really had the opportunity to enjoy and reflect. All together I thought the Macallan event was extremely thorough, well-planned, fun, and very educational.
Would I purchase a bottle of the Macallan brand? Yes, I believe I would. (It just won’t be a bottle of the Macallan 64 in the Lalique Cire Perdue decanter that went for a fantastic world record amount of $460,000 US at a charity event in mid-November.)
For more information on The Macallan please visit them at: www.themacallan.com