Thursday, 30 August 2018

The Macallan Masters of Photography Magnum Edition Hong Kong Launch (Tasted #395)

We've been fortunate since moving to HK to attend some brilliant Macallan events (particularly lately), including a few for the various "Masters of Photography" releases. First it was the Mario Testino (5th) Edition, then last year's Steven Klein (6th) Edition (we also tasted one of the 58 different Elliott Erwitt (4th) editions), and this week we attended the launch of the 7th edition - the "Magnum Edition", celebrating the new distillery via the work of 6 Magnum photographers.


One thing I like about the "MoP" series is they don't follow any rules when it comes to the whisky's make up. Single cask, vattings, age statement, NAS - doesn't matter. The whisky is designed to reflect the nature of the photographers / photography, and over the years there's been some really interesting releases (The Mario Testino Edition especially, being a vatting of 6 casks, with the package including a miniature of each of the 6 casks).

The new "Magnum Edition" is also a vatting, of 7 casks, and whilst you can read the detail about how each cask reflects its photographers personality here, the one thing that really interested me was that one of the casks was an ex-Rioja cask - apparently one of only 3(!) the distillery has ever done.

Bottled at 43.7%, the whisky carries no age but after spending a good amount of time nosing and tasting it (see below), it's clearly not young. I'd hazard a guess the majority of the casks would be north of 20 years old (but that's just a guess).



Ken Grier, Creative Director for The Macallan was our host for the night, in what was sadly his last ever event for The Macallan. Ken opened proceedings by talking us through the 6 photographers (each had examples of their Macallan photography on display around the room), then introduced our dinner pairings, explaining that a "Triple Cask Vertical" of 12/15/18 was chosen to accompany the first three courses, as a nod to the original "Masters of Photography" release, which was a 30 year old Fine Oak 

("Triple Cask" being the new name for the "Fine Oak" series originally launched in 2004).



Dinner was a 4 course affair, expertly paired as always, consisting of:

Vanilla poached mangrove forrest prawn, smoked watermelon carpaccio, avocado creme, basil, roasted crustacean aspic


Seared Foie Gras, sour cherry jus, hazelnut creme


US prime beef sirloin, black garlic mashed potato, abalone sauce glazed morel mushrooms, cress salad


Dark chocolate 68% cigar, Baileys Cremeux, streusel, Hazelnut ice cream



Of course, it wouldn't have been much of a launch event if we hadn't actually tried the whisky being launched...


The Macallan "Masters of Photography" Magnum Edition (43.7% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, $26,600HKD)
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Colour: Yellow gold with a reddish tinge.

Nose: Fruity creme brûlée at first. Toffee apples. Then you get this subtle, but definitely noticeable smoke. Not big Islay-style peat (although one of the casks was "peated", we learned), but a definite dry, dusty, earthen smoke. There's some tobacco and aged leather, and after some time, some burnt orange peel.

Palate: Dry - very dry, with oak tannins quite noticeable. There's also some grassy tobacco, butterscotch, some hints of mandarin peel and more smoke, but underneath it all, an undercurrent of dry oak tannins.

Finish: Extremely long, with the oak tannins carrying right through.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. One that definitely needs time, and the more time you give it, the more you discover. To me, that complexity is something I look for in a whisky, so it scores well because of that. Whilst the palate didn't appeal to me as much as something like Edition 4, or a juicy old Macallan Cask Strength 10yo, it's still quite enjoyable (taste-wise), and the nose is definitely intriguing and hugely complex. Taste is a matter of opinion and plenty of others on the night really enjoyed the taste. Either way, it's definitely one to sit with and enjoy.


The Macallan Masters of Photography "Magnum Edition" is available for $26,600HKD, with a limited allocation of 72 (of 2,000) bottles coming to HK.

Thanks again to Edrington Hong Kong for another successful Macallan launch.

Cheers,
Martin.

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