The Macallan Gold Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)

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The Macallan Gold Single Malt Scotch Whisky (700ml)

Speyside, Highlands, SCOTLAND
$120.00 Bottle
  • ABV 40%

Traditionally one of the 'Grand Marques'of Single Malt Scotch Whisky, Macallan have been on a marketing revision that's lasted several decades. Most recently they announced a new range to replace their ''Fine Oak'' and ''Sherry Oak'' ranges - the "1824 Series" (in reference to the year the distillery was founded).

All the whiskies in the range are from ex-sherry casks - these include both European and American oak casks, of which there is a mix of first-fill and second-fill casks. These are of differing ages, with the 'average age' increasing as you progress through the series, with the darker colours said to be more representative of traditional Macallan.

Reportedly, "...part of the impetus for change comes from Macallan’s initiative to alleviate consumer confusion with regards to their Fine Oak and Sherry Oak ranges—but it is also a bold step intended to challenge some of the established norms that have developed in relation to age-statement whiskies".

Macallan's contention seems plausible to this point - afterall, anyone whose sampled whiskies of vastly divergent ages will have come across relatively young whiskies that belie their youth, as well as extremely old whiskies that have fallen out of balance after an excessive period in oak. Hence, age statements are exactly what they appear to be - but they're not a certificate of style or quality.

However, Macallan have implemented a more radical change - they've differentiated their new collection according to gradations of colour - Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby - rather than disclose age statements. (For what it's worth, to our eyes, the difference in colour between the Amber and the Gold editions is almost indiscernible). But more importantly, it's a given that while the colour of a wood matured spirit may be a very general indicator of age, a deep colour doesn't necessarily imply a great drink. Colour remains largely irrelevent to a spirit's quality.

The logical end to this approach is that Macallan seem to be asking consumers to swallow what is an over simplification at best - that certain colours in whisky will relate to certain flavours.

In short, marketing on colour alone rather than disclosing age statements is a questionable strategy that seems ultimately geared in the producer's favour, not the consumers. So far the blogosphere is alive with debate on the subject and has bestowed mixed reviews on the '1824 range. We'll endeavour to post tasting notes as soon as samples come our way.

The Gold is drawn from both first and second fill ex-sherry casks and is designed as the 'entry level' whisky of Macallans new range.

Other reviews... The first expression in the new Macallan 1824 Series, ultimately intended as a replacement for the current 10-year-old. The 1824 Series comprises bottlings from casks chosen for their colour rather than age or wood type, though all casks have formerly held Sherry. Future expressions will be Amber, Sienna and Ruby. The nose offers apricots and peaches, fudge and a hint of leather. Medium-bodied, with malt, walnuts and spices on the palate. Quite oaky in the medium-length finish. 40.0% Alc./Vol. - www.whiskymag.com