At the time of tasting I didn’t know what these were of course, but it’s an interesting experiment for sure. If I would’ve gone into this tasting with knowledge of the samples, things might have been different since those Macallans come with a reputation.
The Macallan Gold from the recent color scheme whiskies or whatever they named the series, together with Amber, Ruby and Sienna. Gold is supposed to suck. I hadn’t tried it before although they tried to sell me one as an exclusive when I hopped through the shop two years ago.
Then again, Fine Oak also comes with a reputation of actually being quite shitty Macallans and the first step of Macallan’s decline in popularity with whisky geeks. It came as a bit of a surprise after years of marketing ‘the best Sherry casks and only Golden Promise barley’ they suddenly had bourbon casks and supposedly inferior barley, and suddenly that was the big innovative thing.
And, lets be honest, great Macallans are sherried Macallans. The old ones preferably.
Sample 1: Macallan Fine Oak 10, 40%
It’s quite spicy on the nose, with a lot of malt. There’s some straw and some grass. Minerals, not bad but a tad thin. The palate is also slightly mineral like. Slightly waxy with oak. Some fruits too, banana and apple. The finish is consistent with the palate and fairly rich.
Sample 2: Macallan Gold, 40%
The nose is more flat than the previous one, but also a bit warmer. Grains, but watery. The palate is slightly gritty with some sawdust. Relatively rich and dry with oak. Sweet and slightly spicy. The finish is rather good and quite long.
I preferred the second one. I preferred the Macallan Gold. So much for reputations. Well, I didn’t finish any of the samples. These were not really bad whiskies, but neither of them was particularly interesting.
The Macallan Fine Oak is, in my opinion, an overpriced series of whisky that tries to fill its older brother’s shoes but doesn’t manage. The Macallan Gold is quite acceptable for a supposedly inferior NAS. It’s cheaper than the Fine Oak and therefore would have my preference, since I also think it’s a tastier whisky.
In the end, I think for good Macallan we have to look at the indie bottlers, or be willing to overspend.
Short review: I didn’t finish either sample. The Macallan Gold is better than the Fine Oak 10.
Concluding the Big Blind Tasting we can state the following, from my experience after these comparisons:
NAS is not necessarily better than entry level whiskies with an age statement. Neither is it worse. Also, I’m not very good at guessing entry level drams and NAS whiskies side by side. But, nobody will be surprised by my lack of blind-tasting-abilities.