About 2 week s ago I had the opportunity to attend a Macallan Scotch Whisky tasting. (First off, there’s no ‘e’ in Scotch whisky. ‘Whiskey‘ is an Irish spelling from what I understand.
I was alerted to the event by my buddy Badger, a Philly local, who I went to college with. He sent me this Find a Macallan Event link and I signed up for the same one he was on.
We (Badger, Paul, Phil and I) were all able to gain admittance to the event at the Liberty Museum in downtown Philly. What a Great event! By coincidence, my brother Joseph had just attended the same event (with a different host) in Chicago the weekend prior, and also gave it high marks.
Here’s how the tasty goodness went down. Upon arrival, you are given tokens for beverages (one for most, sneaky bastages get more than one). I was a huge fan of the cheese and cracker table. Aside from it’s obvious responsibility-based implications, it was also quite delectable. Then you go into the presentation room. Nicely appointed, mood well set. And Graham, our “brand ambassador,” was certainly a character.
Negatives: (And I’m nit-picking here – because it was free Macallan. Grain of salt, people!)
I’ve been to other whisky tastings in the past – the most recent being Johnny Walker Scotch Whisky (also sans ‘e’). That one, by the way, led me to purchase a bottle of Johnny Blue through an offshore excursion. (“I like to shop at the Duty Free shop.” You know you were silently singing that in your head… ; ) The previous experiences were much more educational on what to look for in a good Whisky. “Look for the nutty flavor,” “… the fruity aroma,” “… the hint of orange or flowers.” I was expecting this to be very similar. However I didn’t get much of that during the actual tasting.
The Macallan – that should be self explanatory. The 18 year, I believe, was featured on Lost in past seasons. They don’t do that for Wild Turkey (no offense). The Scotch was delicious. The flight we were indulged with included the 10 (for the token), then while seated: the 12, 15, 17 and 18.
That alone is enough to promote this event. Also take into account a very detailed description of the distilling process, the barrels used, the people (and their remarkable noses) that determine what make up a batch. These were great anecdotal references to how and why The Macallan is what It is.
By the way, there was a great presentation by Graham, the Cheese table (both previously mentioned), Belgian Chocolate (was presented with the 12 year, but I found the 15 year was more ‘simpatico’ to this particular olfactory offering). Not to mention the Ginormous flat/touch screen that bore the information presented to us. That was just cool.
What was missing:
The one question that I posed to my cohorts was around why there would be two labels with but one year difference. Specifically, the 17 and 18 year. Why so different in taste, or so similar, that they needed separate incarnations.
Then came the goody bag: We received some flyers (etc, etc), some tasting glasses – one each, and a little flip book. I didn’t open the book until I was unpacking from the trip. Then I found the answer to my question:
It’s around the casking. The Macallan is casked in both Sherry Oak and Bourbon Oak barrels:
Bouron Oak – Houses the 10, 15, 17, 21 and 30 year Macallans
Sherry Oak – Houses the 12, 18, 25 and a different 30 year Macallan
The Sherry versions are darker in color (due to what is absorbed from their homes). And each bottle tells which type of barrel that particular libation arises from.
So there you go boys, one more mystery of the universe uncovered.