Tuesday 31 March 2020

Tasted #479: The Macallan Concept Number 2

These are certainly unique, strange and (in many, many cases) devastating times in which we're living. Cities are on lockdown all around the world, unemployment is climbing well into the double digits, industries are being battered left right and centre, and global travel has more or less ground to a halt (for a shocking example of this, the other day Cathay Pacific only carried 582 passengers. Globally).

The spirits industry is of course not immune either, with many distilleries either shutting down, or switching entirely to the production of hand sanitiser (and to those who are also donating it to medical services in need, we say bravo).

I'd planned to pick up a bottle of The Macallan's new "Concept No.2" (a travel retail only edition) on an Easter Trip to Sydney, but with the trip obviously cancelled, I figured it would be some time before I got my hands on a bottle. Whilst this is obviously the LEAST of anyone's worries during these incredibly challenging times, it was nonetheless a lovely surprise when a bottle turned up at my home, completely unprompted, courtesy of The Macallan HK a few days later.

For those unfamiliar with the series, "Concept" is a travel-retail (what we used to call "Duty Free") exclusive series which, to quote The Macallan " fuses the passion behind The Macallan’s whisky making with innovative art, music and culture".

Concept No.1, released in 2018, focused on "surreal art" and saw the typical maturation regime flipped on its head - with whisky spending time first in ex-sherry casks, and then ex-Bourbon casks. If I'm honest, whilst I found it perfectly drinkable, I didn't think it was The Macallan's finest release, although having heard good things about Concept No.2, I was keen to give it a try.

 Concept No.2 (which, interestingly, despite being travel retail only, is available at Master of Malt) takes its inspiration from music (as you might guess from the packaging), and specifically house music, which Whisky Maker Steven Bremner practices as a DJ, commenting that:
“Creating a track and crafting a single malt can take a similar path. Beginning with the layering of sounds just like the layering of different flavours from specific cask types. Each different cask brings its own influence to the character of the liquid, like each instrument, or sound, adds depth to a track. In both cases, we can alter each different element to play up or down particular sounds or flavours.”
In this case, the "layering" is achieved with the use of sherry-seasoned American oak casks, Miguel Martin European Oak sherry casks, and ex-Bourbon casks. So on the surface, a NAS Fine Oak / Triple Cask? Actually on the contrary I found it closer to a Macallan 12 Sherry Oak, albeit with an overall sweeter profile.

The Macallan "Concept No.2" (40% ABV, NAS, Speyside, Scotland, $1,280HKD in travel retail)
Colour: Mid-copper brown.

Nose: Initially sweet. You get that trademark Macallan "flintiness" (as I call it), sherry-soaked sultanas, but with an underlying sweet strawberry sherbert note.

Palate: Largely follows the nose, with strawberry Hubba Bubba, rose water, toffee apple and almond meal also peeking through.

Finish: Medium length with an almond nuttiness, tart berry notes and slight wood spice hints to the end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. Not every NAS Macallan is a winner in my books, but this is definitely one of the better ones, and doesn't feel too "light" with a 40% ABV. If you like the typical modern Macallan profile, but prefer your whiskies on the sweeter side, this is definitely worth a look-in.

The Macallan "Concept Number 2" is available at Duty Zero by CDF Departure and Arrival stores in Hong Kong International Airport at an RRSP of 1280 HKD. Australian pricing TBC (although of course it will likely be a while before the opportunity to purchase it arises for most..)

Stay safe everyone.


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