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!
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.)
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.
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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