Macallan Fine Oak 12

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Macallan Fine Oak 12

Postby Admiral » Mon May 16, 2005 1:35 pm

After months of reading other people's thoughts and opinions about it, I finally got to try the Macallan Fine Oak 12. The setting was in the company of a malt appreciation club I belong to.

Our panel consisted of 9, with the majority being well-seasoned and well-educated Macallan drinkers.

Well, the overall verdict was negative.

Not surprisingly, one of the main reactions was "This ain't Macallan".

Personally, I didn't agree with this statement. It certainly wasn't the Macallan that we all knew, but it seems stupid to burden the whisky with the legacy of the distillery's previous sherry bottlings, as the whole point is to present the market with something new.

So I spent far more time judging the malt on its own merits, rather than bringing Macallan baggage to the table.

So what were my thoughts?

Well, it was not unpleasant. It was perfectly drinkable, and I concluded by referring to it as a "quaffing whisky". However, it did have its faults: Both the nose and palate weren't as multi-dimensional as a good malt should be.

Once you re-attach the Macallan baggage, you end up asking some very interesting questions:

1. Was this whisky worth the very expensive price tag of $79? No, I think it is ridiculously overpriced for the quality of the product. If bourbon casks are so much cheaper than sherry casks, surely the Fine Oak should retail cheaper than the sherry wood Macallan?

2. Macallan used to stand for top quality. For a name that supposedly is associated with being a Rolls Royce, this malt was decidedly in the Volvo or Volkswagon category. Are Macallan happy to just produce "quaffing" whiskies?

3. I believe I am capable of picking a traditional Macallan out from a crowd when conducting a blind tasting. The Fine Oak doesn't offer much that is defining or unique, and I think I would struggle to pick it from one of any number of other non-descript Speysiders.

I scored the Macallan Fine Oak 12 at 7.3, which was one of the higher scores. After all scores were submitted, the average for the Mac was 6.9. This was the same group of people who only 10 months earlier gave an average score of 8.1 to the regular sherry wood Macallan!


Deactivated Member

Postby Deactivated Member » Tue May 17, 2005 7:29 am

If it's the sherry casks that make Macallan, what does that say for the quality of the spirit? A substandard malt from a tired cask is one thing, but one presumes that bourbon barrels labeled "Fine Oak" would be up to snuff. (Looking forward to Glen Googly Snuff Cask. :roll: ) I understand the business decision to roll out this line, but one wonders whether these casks were filled with the express intent of sending them off to the blenders, and what effect that intent might have on the finished product. Either Macallan are pushing a line that does not show off their whisky at its best, or else the body under that lovely dress wasn't what we thought it was when we left the bar. :oops:

As to price, I learned long ago that pricing is done to match perceived market conditions, not according to what you or I might think of as intrinsic value. To some extent, Macallan (and every other distiller, and indeed every other producer of goods and services of any kind) charge what they do for their product because they can. And when the product is in short supply, as often happens in the whisky world, the price will find its own level. You and I make the judgment as to whether the bottle is worth $79; when the price reaches such a level that there are exactly as many people willing to pay it as there are bottles, it is high enough. To sell at a price lower than that would only aggravate shortages and encourage the black market.

Another example of pricing what the market will carry is in the North American automobile industry. Identical models of cars are significantly cheaper in Canada than in the US for no other reason than that the industry perceives the price points at which Canadians will buy a given car are lower than those Americans are willing to pay. (But don't bother thinking about getting your next car north of the border--the impediments to importation more than make up the difference.)

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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 17, 2005 4:18 pm

The 15 year old and the 21 have a lot more to offer IMHO. I recently bought a bottle of the 15, the price was C$86, that's a reasonable price for a 15 year old in this part of the world.

As an aside, last week at the JM tasting in Victoria we had a 'traditional' Macallan 18 that was sulphered and that cost C$168 a bottle. The sulpher issue is the main reason for the Fine Oak line up.

I agree with you that in a lot of peoples minds they are going to be saying of the Fine Oak range that it isn't Macallan. However I think that will change in time but I will miss the old 'traditional' Macallan.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue May 17, 2005 4:52 pm

Lawrence wrote:I agree with you that in a lot of peoples minds they are going to be saying of the Fine Oak range that it isn't Macallan. However I think that will change in time but I will miss the old 'traditional' Macallan.

Do they intend to discontinue it altogether? That has not been my impression, and I see no reason why you should miss it.

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Postby Lawrence » Tue May 17, 2005 5:13 pm

Sorry, I wasn't trying to convey the message that they are discontinuing the one line up for the other which is not the case. With the advent of sulphered casks the availability of the traditional Macallan sherry line up will be limited and I'm quite sure my home market will not see very much of the sherry line up.

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Postby andrewfenton » Tue May 17, 2005 5:18 pm

From what I heard they won't be discontinuing the sherry-casked range, but they simply can't get enough casks to maintain an all-sherry range. The same has happened with Glendronach - they can't make the 15yr 100% sherrywood anymore, and I've heard elsewhere Signatory are switching more towards oak casks (they're in quite a price-sensitive part of the market)

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Postby patrick dicaprio » Wed May 18, 2005 1:49 pm

i tasted this at WhiskyLive and was very disappointed. in fact on my tasting notes i believe i gave it the lowest numerical rating, i think something like 6 out of 10 but will have to dig it up. so the results dont surprise me.


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