The Macallan distillery tour

I was really looking forward to this. An 11am tour of The Macallan with an extensive tasting at the end. The price was £20 which, actually turns out to be epic value as the tasting includes 3 whiskies over £100 and one at £400. More on that later. Mrs dramstats was driving so she did the standard tour and without a dram. They charged £10 for this!! Piece of advice one: book a precious tour by phone before you go!The tour is a “no photos anywhere inside the distillery” one. You know, for health and safety reasons. I wonder if things were still directly fired if it would be the same.It was a pretty good tour, they are distilling on a mind boggling scale and the stills, washbacks and tun we saw didn’t even represent half of the distilling power in other parts of the factory. The stills are really short with decending line arms to promote a really heavy spirit. I’m really getting into the geekery behind spirit still shape and character of the spirit! There are 2 spirit stills to each wash still as the spirit stills are so short.After the usual factory part and before the warehouse peak, there was a “wood feature”. On a floor above a dunnage warehouse was a mini museum on cask making and coopering with particular reference to spanish oak. This part was a little boring but at the end there was a cool feature with a number of large glass “vases” each containing a different scent found in whisky. This was good nose prep and everyone enjoyed it.In the dunnage warehouse we saw a cask patched up with a copper “plaster”. This was pretty interesting. I didnt realise they did such on the fly repairs to casks containing whisky. It was now tasting time…Whilst the whisky in this tasting was excellent, the guy gave us roughly 5 minutes per dram, less by the end. That was a real downer but i tried to write fast. The whisky really was excellent! Highlight of the week so far. Here are some dramstats:

The Macallan New Make

Nose: figs, prunes, dates and sultanas. Tyese are crazy sherry cask type notes for a new make! Currants and juicy raisins.

Palate: Dried fruit bomb! Like all of the ingredients of xmas cake without the sherry. Very full mouthfeel.

Finish: Never have raisins been so juicy! Fantastic new make and i can see why it goes so well with sherry.

Verdict: No kidding, if they bottled this and sold it i’d be a customer. It’s amazing stuff. Getting excited about the matured stuff now.

Fine oak 12 year old

  • Price at distillery £35
  • 40% ABV

Nose: vanilla, floral, apple, light chocolate.

Palate: Vanilla, quite sweet with a hint of mocha.

Finish: Hint of cocoa and lasting sweet apple.

Verdict: i like this. Its very good though our guide is rushing us so i cant really enjoy it. The issue is that i know there is a sherried version on the way…

Macallan 18

  • Price £100 (at the distillery)
  • ABV 43%

Nose: Sherry, dried fruits. Many notes from the new make. Prunes, fig rolls, raisins. Chocolate, orange and cinnamon.

Palate: chocolate orange, sherry, dried fruit, full bodied. Absolutely stunning!

Finish: well rounded and short with chocolate and all of the notes from the palate coming back.

Verdict: initially i was really pissed off with this. I mean £100 for an 18 year old OB?! Who can afford to drink this? But it is so nice! I am coming round to the idea of an affordable bottle for special occasions. After all, if the quality of the whisky is good, the age is kind of irrelevant. Ive got till the end of the week to decide whether to buy one.

Macallan Fine Oak 21

  • Price £230(?!)
  • ABV 43%

Nose: Vanilla, citrus, floral, some of the new make comes through with prunes a d dried fruit. Apples.

Palate: Apple, vanilla, with some prune and dried fruit and a touch of orange juice.

Finish: slight peppery kick, oiky with a hint of orange.

Verdict: Lovely, but £230!!!? Wow. Considering this is part of their core range, who are the people buying this? 3 years on from 18 and the price is up £130!

Macallan 25 year sherry oak.

  • Price £400(!)
  • ABV 43%

Nose: fantastic rich chocolate with prunes, hint of orange lots of dried fruit and sherry.

Palate: chocolate, dried fruit, apple and spices.

Finish: Rich chocolate and christmas cake. Hint of brown sugar and toffee.

Verdict: this is great! Really great! But still, £400 for 25 year old whisky. Out of my league but great to taste. Why could we only have 5 minutes though Macallan?

Overall verdict:

A great tour and the extended tasting is a bargain given the price of the bottles we got to taste. I love the distillery, the still shape, the new make and particularly the sherried versions which complete the new make so well. The prices of the standard bottlings make me baulk and i was gutted after 1 hour talking about wood that we were only given 4-5 minutes with some once in a lifetime drams. I definitely recommend going.

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