Monday 28 December 2015

The Macallan Jazz Appreciation (Tasted #240-242: Macallan Rare Cask, Edition No.1 and Chairman's Release)

Edrington Hong Kong recently completed their series of "Jazz Appreciation with The Macallan" events with a fantastic finalé at one of our favourite Hong Kong Whisky BarsTiffany's New York Whisky Bar.

Described as reminiscent of the "roaring 1920s" New York Jazz scene, the event saw 5 expressions from The Macallan paired with Jazz tunes from a trio led by Jazz maestro Ted Lo.

Fine Oak 12 was served on arrival, as guests chatted and admired the line-up of drams (which for us was especially exciting, as it was our chance to finally try two new expressions - the Rare Cask and Edition No.1).

After taking our seats, Edrington's Peter Woo gave a brief introduction before handing over to our host for the night - good friend of TimeforWhisky and IWSC Judge Eddie Nara. Eddie explained that each dram had been paired with a jazz tune that showed similar characteristics. The line-up was:

  • The Macallan 12 Fine Oak (on arrival)
  • The Macallan 12 Sherry Oak
  • The Macallan 15 Fine Oak
  • The Macallan Edition No.1
  • The Macallan 17 Fine Oak
  • The Macallan Rare Cask

Whilst we didn't take detailed notes on the songs (this is a whisky blog not a Jazz blog, after all), both Steph and I thought they were well-matched - for example the Fine Oak 15 was matched with a light, playful "Summertime" Jazz song, whereas the Edition No.1 was matched with a heavier, deeper bossa nova track called "One note Samba".

We've visited some of the above drams previously, so have kept the tasting notes to the two that were new to us, plus an interesting addition that a friend had kindly brought along....

The Macallan Edition No.1 (48% ABV, NAS, Highlands Scotland, $680HKD)
Colour: Bright vibrant amber-orange
Nose: Reminiscent of a heartier Sherry Oak 12. Flint, mocha, some Christmas cake. Trademark sherry characteristics, and very in your face (more so than the Sherry Oak 12).
Palate: A continuation of the nose - lots of Christmas cake (cherries, Brazil nuts, also some raisins) but a lot bolder and richer than you get from other sherried Macallans (the 48% no doubt helps). Lots of pecans, but also some sherbert sweetness and even a little bit of bubblegum. More complex than the Sherry Oak 12.
Finish: Long, sherried and just delicious.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 93/100. Definitely one worth considering for any whisky fan living in (or visiting) HK. Good value at only $130HKD or so more than the Sherry Oak 12 (itself an excellent whisky).

The Macallan Rare Cask (43% ABV, NAS, Highlands Scotland, $2,680HKD / £189.50)
Bottled from 256 casks (all sherried, many first-fill).
Colour: Dark orange gold.
Nose: Clearly sherried, with quite a bit of toffee, but whereas the Edition No.1 was "in your face" (in a good way), this was subtle, smooth, barely peeking its head out.
Palate: The theme continues - it's elegant, refined, and smooth, but....too refined? Too smooth? Perhaps, for my palate at least. There's caramel toffee sweetness and some raisins, but it's all just a bit smooth and inoffensive.
Finish: Long with some tropical fruit and even some Banoffee pie.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100. A very well made whisky, and I'm sure it'll be a hit with those looking for a smooth, elegant dram, but for me, I'm looking for something with a bit more power, a bit more "oomph".

That was it for the whiskies on offer, however as we were enjoying the last tune, a friend and fellow whisky-lover brought over a bottle of The Macallan Chairman's Release (1700 Series) he'd acquired in Taiwan, and asked if we were interested. Not one to knock back a Macallan I'd never tried (let alone one selling for up to £1,500 per bottle!) I happily said yes and was poured a hearty dram!

The Macallan Chairman's Release (43% ABV, NAS, Highlands Scotland, No longer available)
Released as a limited edition for the China Market in 2011 as part of the "1700 Series", in a Cognac-esque short, bulbous bottle.
Colour: Dark orange.
Nose: Bitter dark orange chocolate. In fact, Terry's Chocolate Orange (Dark) in a glass!
Palate: Smooth, lots of dark chocolate, a little smoke and a little earthy flintiness. Very much a dessert whisky.
Finish: Long and slightly smokey, still continuing with notes of chocolate oranges.
Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 92/100. A very enjoyable and unique Macallan - one I didn't even know existed previously!

There are a lot of whisky pairing events these days (dinner, cigars, chocolate, cheese), and we're happy to report that, whilst perhaps a little unusual, this pairing of music and whisky was just as enjoyable.

TimeforWhisky would like to thank Edrington HK for the invitation, and for the many excellent whisky events throughout 2015.

Steph & Martin.

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