The Macallan 12-year-old Double Cask vs Edition No 2

For today’s tasting, I am having The Macallan side by side. This is a fantastic single malt, the one that most likely newcomers will spy. It’s got a price tag to match for its privilege, and many will tell you that it is overpriced. They’re not truly wrong, and I tend to agree when it comes to its older and vintage selection. Take a read through this pairing of The Macallan alongside GlenDronach, and you’ll quickly begin to appreciate the intrinsic prestige that it carries within. But what about the distilleries other expressions? That’s is the fun part of this site! I’ve got two drams to explore here today (including the originally reviewed 12-year-old Sherry Oak Cask for a baseline). So let’s see where they stand, but first, we need music! Now playing: Sven HelbigSkills.

A quick recap of The Macallan 12-year-old Sherry Oak, which I brought from the US. This is a 43% ABV bottle (the Americans always gets a higher percent!) of a single malt “exclusively matured in selected sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain.” This means that the Scotch spent its life in ex-oloroso oak casks for at least twelve years, and then all of these casks were married (blended) together for the final product. Let’s not deny – this is a fantastic “Highland single malt” [although officially located in Speyside]. Now let’s get back to the subject at hand and take a sip of The Macallan 12-year-old Double Cask. Right away, it feels like a different whisky. Its arrival is fuller, rounder, with more caramel and soft toffee. It is denser than the Sherry Oak dram. It’s more buttery, oily, and waxy. Very surprising, considering it is bottled at 40%! This bottle contains a blend of “sherry seasoned” American and European oak-aged whiskies [hence the name and the two barrels on the bottle’s label], and it still has that slight sherry flavour, but it’s sweeter and more viscous than the whisky that has been matured in “true” sherry casks. I say “true” because “seasoned” means that the distillery [or the hired bodega] purposely filled the barrels with the sherry versus buying used casks. So the type of sherry and age would be different. It is more “curated” for the taste and can ensure consistency, but it feels like a shortcut, if you know what I mean.

The Macallan Edition No 2 always felt like a gimmick. When the first edition came out, it was rumoured that the distillery ran out of the eighteen and twelve and was moving towards a “no age statement” release to preserve on its stock. Whether factual or false, these easily collectable “editions” started flying like hotcakes. I believe I got mine for a mere $80 or so [I don’t remember breaking a sweat], but I wasn’t impressed. Meanwhile, now, this [unopened] edition will fetch close to £600. And I think that it’s dumb if you want to ask me, while the collector’s market will dictate its actual price through supply and demand. Anyway, the rant is over, so let’s see what’s inside. Bottled at a higher 48.2% [how do they ‘choose’ the percentage anyway?], the extra alcohol helps out the flavour. It is round and smooth but is light on the nose, and the finish has slightly a dark, bitter end. Matured in a combination of six (!) different barrels, including sherry butts, puncheons, and refill hogshead, it is definitely unique and an experiment of sorts as a “collaboration” between the Macallan master blender, Bob Dalgarno, and [famous?] Spanish chefs and brothers Josep, Joan and Jordi Roca. By definition, this is a limited edition and is instantly collectable. It’s a marketing thing, but I do not regret buying it in the least [at the original price]. Also, for the record, the distillery states that both bottlings have “natural colour”, but it doesn’t dispute this fact on the label.

Can you guess from my words which I fancy today? I suppose some of them have that built-in disgust for a gimmicky product. But the whisky is excellent, and although it is a true “single malt”, it is most likely on par with a great blended malt than a nice single barrel. With that said, I’ll admit to my pleasant surprise at the flavours and fullness of its core double-cask. It’s a pretty “accessible” bottle that is currently sold for [just] £55 at your trustworthy Waitrose. Meanwhile, good luck finding a taste of that nice looking orange prize. Maybe you can locate a sample. With that said, I’ll conclude and proclaim that the Double Cask wins this round!

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