If ever, on a balmy Sunday afternoon, you thought it might be a clever idea to concoct your own brand of Scotch whisky, be warned it’s going to take more than barley, water and yeast. While auditors and sceptics who uncloak religious swindlers might disagree, every centuries-old whisky brand has a soul. It’s a spiritual force that permeates everything from the ingredients, to the distiller himself, to the property on which the said whisky is made. And this signature spectre can be found in every bottle of The Macallan. But even one of the world’s classical makers should never forego innovation and diversification.
Hence the Fine Oak 12 Years Old. Triple-cask matured in a combination of European oak sherry casks, American oak sherry seasoned casks and American bourbon casks, this whisky offers new breadth and depth while still maintaining The Macallan’s core characteristics. Long-time drinkers will still detect an emphasis on rich, fruity full-bodied flavours and a wholesome mouth feel.
But the complexities begin long before the maturation process. The masters of flavour at The Macallan begin by shipping new oak from the US to Spain. There, the casks are made and sherry seasoned before travelling to Speyside for another 12 years of maturation. These newer whiskies are then combined with those ages in select sherry seasoned European oak casks and American bourbon casks. As bottle statements indicate, all whiskies are a minimum of 12 years old, bottled at 40% alcohol by volume. This mean it’s either 80% proof in the US or 70% proof in the UK.
With the colour of pale straw, most reviewers report spices and butterscotch on the nose, with a light caramel and honey palate. With an ice cube, creamier flavours open up, and this is not surprising. This Fine Oak 12 Years Old offers a distinctly younger profile that lends itself more readily to modern cocktails and punches. Some might turn their noses up at this while others will let their taste buds lead the way. One never knows until one takes the plunge.
Still, with that much care and detail going into its production, I doubt this spirit will let anyone down too far. If anything, it’s a welcome departure that’s bound to attract new drinkers to this 190-year-old establishment. And that guarantees an awesome whisky for generations to come.