The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Whisky
Review:The Macallan Fine Oak 17 Year Old Whisky 92/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on April 24,2011
This review is based upon a small sample provided to me from the personal collection of J. L. Wheelock, who is part of the Beam Global team here in Alberta. The sample was smaller than my normal 200 ml minimum sample size, and the reader should be cautioned that I was not able to give the sample my normal rigorous tasting regimen of five independent tasting sessions. Instead I completed two tasting sessions of the sample and completed my review on that basis.
The Macallan Fine Oak Series is a range of single malt Scotch whiskies, produced at The Macallan Distillery at Craigellachie in the Speyside region of Scotland. These whiskies are matured in seasoned American oak casks, (sherry as well as bourbon), as well as seasoned sherry casks from Spain. I have previously reviewed the The Macallan Fine Oak 10 Year and The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old expressions here on my blog, and I am happy to continue this series with a review of The Macallan Fine Oak 17 year Old.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
The range of whiskies which comprise The Macallan Fine Oak Series are housed in attractive display boxes which are full of information about how they are made, and why the Distillery feels that these factors are important. The boxes also contain additional information regarding the expected nose, palate, and finish. Because Scottish Single malts can vary so much in flavour profile, this information is very important to help the consumer choose a whisky which will be suitable to his or her particular palate. The display boxes also add a touch of ambiance to the occasion of opening the bottle for the first time especially in front of friends.
The glass bottle containing the whisky is of the same typical Macallan style which is used for most of their whisky range. It is a slightly wide shouldered whisky bottle topped with a solid high density cork. My only quibble with the presentation is that this is essentially the same display that is used for the lower end of The Macallan range. My expectation when I spend the additional money at the higher end of the range is that even in the presentation I will receive a little more for my money.
In the Glass 9/10
When I pour the 17 Year Old Macallan Fine Oak into my glass, my nose is greeted by sweet honey and marshmallow scents as well as a lovely creamy light butterscotch. This is noticeably sweeter on the nose than my previously reviewed 15 Year Old Macallan Fine Oak, and that sweetness seems to make the aroma more penetrating and assertive. A certain astringency is in the air as well which seems to stem from sharp citrus scents which pour out of the oak spices.
After the glass has been given time to decant, faint wisps of sherry smoke appear in the breezes which carries the aroma of dry fruit (prunes and raisins). As well, a firm almond/marzipan scent is detectable as is a light sensation of vanilla. Overall, I must say that this is a very nice beginning.
In the Mouth 55/60
There is a certain creaminess to the whisky which coats the mouth and helps to bring the flavours forward. I taste light butterscotch leading out in front; but, it is quickly smothered by sharper oak spices. As the mouth becomes heated with oak tannin, that penetrating sweetness which was present on the nose begins to assert itself beside the sharper oak acting to temper the heat and give the whisky a pleasant marshmallow and citrus appeal. (I cannot help but think of marshmallows as I sip on the whisky, as the flavour I encounter seems to have that similar intensity of sweetness.) The whisky begins to reveal more complex flavours as you allow it to sit in your mouth and begin to chew on it. Dry fruit sensations, more citrus flavours, nutty marzipan, and soft vanillans are all present in varying degrees. I find the whisky to be wonderfully complex; the balance between the heat and the sweet is practically spot on.
In the Throat 14/15
Fading echoes of dry fruit, wisps of almonds and vanilla, and perhaps a smidgen of chocolate appear during the finale. The exit is long and heated with the oak spices overtaking the marshmallow sweetness at the finish.
The Afterburn 9.5/10
This is a wonderfully nice whisky. It is complex and appealing. I find myself wishing (now that my sample is gone) that I had been given a larger portion to taste, such that I could tease out more flavours and enjoy this 17-year-old whisky more completely.
Fortunately, Father’s Day is approaching and my wife always likes a good gift suggestion…
You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.
As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)