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The Macallan 1861 Replica Single Malt Scotch Whisky (750ml)
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John McWilliam established his business in Speyside during the middle of the 19th Century and his shop was a familiar landmark until the beginning of the 20th century. As well as purveying general provisions, such as groceries, tea and coffee, he offered a list of fine wines and spirits which he bought by the cask and bottled himself. The Macallan distillery located close by on the opposite bank of the river Spey was the local favourite and a handful of his bottles still exist in the Macallan archive collection. The earliest bottle dates from 1856 and the latest from 1898.
In 1998 The Macallan acquired a very rare bottle of 1861 from John McWilliam’s private collection and presented Bob Dalgarno, Whisky Maker, with the formidable challenge of replicating it.
"I drew a tiny sample from the bottle with a hypodermic syringe inserted through the long driven cork. It was surprisingly fresh and vibrant, clearly The Macallan, but full of youthful vitality. Of course, we do not know the age at which it had been bottled, but judging from its golden colour and relative robustness in character, we suspect the whisky was matured in oak sherry casks from Spain. Together with my team of expert nosers, I began to comb through our warehouses of maturing casks searching for whisky which matched the profile. The problem was that every time we went back to the original it seemed to be revealing new layers of complexity. In the end we vatted together twenty-eight casks, at different ages, to achieve a balanced profile which, in our view, reflects the true character, aroma and flavour of this historic whisky."
As well as replicating the whisky, Macallan were determined to recreate the 1861 bottle and label. The original bottle had been hand blown and closed with a driven cork and lead capsule - all characteristic features of its age and provenance. Master glassmakers, Stölzle Flaconnage of Nottingly, West Yorkshire, fabricated a new mould and carefully added colour to the molten glass until it matched the original. Even the flaws in the 1860s bottle were replicated, but in a way which maintained the integrity of the glass. No two bottles are the same, with bubbles, scratches and flat spots randomly created.
Of this rare bottling, Macallan Chief Whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno offered the following tasting notes: "The nose displays citrus, dried fruits with spice and is lightly floral with hints of toffee, wood smoke, apple, light oil and malt. The palate reveals spice, light lemon-citrus, resin and lightly smoked oak flavours with hints of toffee re-emerging. Lingering slightly sweet aftertaste of spice, subtle smoked wood and malt. 42.7% Alc. / Vol.
Meanwhile, noted Whisky writer, Michael Jackson commented:
" [The palate is] slippery-smooth. Very sweet. Perfumy. Anis. Restrained fruitiness. Candied orange peel. Delicious sherry character. Great depth of flavour. Quite an achievement. Like the previous ‘replica’ edition, this is more delicate than the robustly sherried Macallans of today."
Further notes sourced from www.tastings.com: Rich copper hue. Sweet fruity nose with a splash of toffee. A buoyant, satiny entry leads to a medium-to full-bodied palate of caramel, pepper spice and chocolate fruit peels. Finishes with a fruity fade of nuts and spice. Deeply flavorful and very well-balanced.
International Review of Spirits Award: Gold Medal.
RATED: 90 points (Exceptional)