Sunday 3 November 2013

The Macallan 1824 Series Australian launch event

(By Steph)

I’ve recently reconsidered my take on Monday nights. When you think of Monday, what do you think of? Monday blues? Although I do love what I do for work, it’s always a little disheartening knowing that you have 5 full days to push through before you have 2 blissful days of weekend. The solution? Spend your Monday night at the Australian launch of The Macallan 1824 series! It turns the Monday blues into Monday excitement, particularly when the spectacular location of such a launch is the stunning Blu Bar on Level 36 at Sydney’s Shangri-La hotel. Who can argue with fine whiskies matched with this view?

The night started with a bang in the form of a cocktail inspired by the flavours and aroma of The Macallan 1824 Amber expression. Created using Crème de Gingembre, homemade vanilla syrup, grapefruit bitters and lime, it was a delightfully refreshing cocktail, and the freeze-dried apple garnish made a delicious talking-point.  Cheryl Tang, Brand Ambassador for The Macallan in Australia provided the 100 or so guests with a brief introduction to the brand and expressions (as a few guests joked beforehand, it was almost guaranteed we'd hear the phrase "Rolls Royce of whiskey", and we weren't disappointed), and as always, it was a pleasure to listen to Andrew Derbridge, Director and Cellarmaster of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Australia talk us through each expression.

I’ll admit, Martin and I had tried the 3 expressions (Amber (40%), Sienna (43%) and Ruby (43%)) at The Oak Barrel’s Whisky Fair in September, and Martin recently posted an article about the Australian release, including some background on the growing NAS (No Age Statement) trend, so we had an idea of what to expect. NAS, sherried, luxurious and reflective of the colours of each expression. My favourite expression would have to be Sienna, however I'd also give the Ruby a sideways glance. All expressions were aged in sherry oak casks with natural colours and flavours (i.e. no added caramel). Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for sherry-aged whisky so the three expressions received my tick of approval. Martin also enjoyed the range more than previous Macallans, and found the Sienna his favourite too.

We were told that the canapés (created by Altitude Head Chef, Matthew McCool) were tasty and a great match for the whiskies, however sadly we'll have to go on this anecdotal evidence, as only one of the savoury canapés ended up making it around to our group (even though we were in a prominent part of the small room). Talking to other guests it seemed a significant number of us missed out on most of the food. Mind you, the chocolate truffle infused with Ruby, which we were able to try, was a delicious end to the night. 

Whilst the location and whiskies were both fantastic (and a great match for each other), it did seem like a number of guests really didn't care for anything except free cocktails and whisky, and consistently talked over the presentation of the whiskies by Andrew (who did an excellent job, considering the crowd, and read the audience well).

For an event that served (generous amounts of) alcohol and ran from 6:30-8:30pm, a little more food wouldn’t have gone astray. Most guests appeared to drizzle out as soon as the last expression was tried, perhaps to satisfy their growling stomachs. But overall, well done to Beam, CCA, Exposure PR and The Macallan for choosing such a stunning location and for curing my Monday blues. A fitting launch for what is sure to be a popular series in Australia.

- Steph.

(Martin will post detailed tasting notes on the series shortly).

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