Macallan 1991-2014, 23yo, 47.7% – SMWS (Northern Lights)

This fairly well aged Macallan from a refill hogshead came from my whisky buddy DSA, who sent it as a blind sample in our latest swap. He loves it, but I know Gal hates it. I think Bourbon matured Macallan is truly a hit & miss thing. Unfortunately, even the hits from Macallan are not great, or not affordable.

The distillery is, from my point of view, purely running on past results and getting a headline here and there with their next ridiculous decanter and € 50.000 price tag. In short, not a distillery I’ve bought anything of for a long while now. It’s a shame, really, since their sherry matured whisky is awesome. They’ve just priced themselves out of many regular folks’ wallets.

Now this one. A bourbon matured one. I’ve not had many great experiences with bourbon matured Macallan, and I was glad to taste this one blind. I find you become much more critical but also more open minded. Critical in a way that I generally don’t buy much whisky I’ve tasted blind since there is no reputational pollution of my opinion. Doing this more often, or preferable with every dram I try would save me a lot of money. I wouldn’t fall for the “Oooh, a new Clynelish!” trap.

Image from Whiskybase

Image from Whiskybase

It starts very malty, but there is a very freaky sweetness to it. Not malty in the sweetness but more fishy. Like seared scallops are sweet too. That’s the first thing that comes to mind, strangely. There’s some oak, some green, leafy scents too. Weird.

The palate is rather sharp and slightly peppery. Lots of malt, some oak, sweet and sugary. Tree bark, and pizza crust. Dough, but with something of an oregano flavor to it.

The finish is fairly straight forward for a well aged whisky at first with malt, wood, spices. Then that pizza crust and the fishy sweetness pop up again.

What the hell is happening here? I had no clue what to make of it, but I was fairly certain we had to do with a single malt here. No idea where from since those weird flavors can also be an indicator of it being from a not-expected region or the world.

The seared scallops scent and flavor is not something I’ve come across often, and I can’t say I really mind. I like scallops well enough but I think the flavor was a bit out of place here. It would fit better with a more briny whisky I think. Bruichladdich, Springbank or Old Pulteney for example.

In short, an interesting whisky for a tasting or something to share it with others. It will polarize opinions, I think. But I’m glad I don’t have to go through an entire bottle since it’d take me years.

Macallan 1991-2014, 23yo, 47.7%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society. It’s called Northern Lights and went for some € 150.

About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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