Wednesday 13 October 2021

The Macallan Concept No. 3 [Tasted #543]

Last year I wrote about The Macallan "Concept 2", a travel retail exclusive launched at a time when global travel was extremely limited.

Fast forward ~18 months, and the next (and final) whisky in the series has been released, "Concept 3" (at a time when global travel is still, sadly, very limited). Despite the lack of travel, The Macallan were kind enough to send me a bottle (part of this stunning kit) so I could try the whisky.

First though, some background. The third and final release in the “Concept” series sees a whisky which “brings together the worlds of whisky and graphic design”, through a collaboration with designer David Carson. Described as “bright & fresh”, the whisky was created by The Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan, at a unique 40.8% (because “8 happens to be mine and David’s favourite number”, says Polly 😁)

As you might expect from a collaboration with a graphic designer, the bottle and packaging have a lot "going on" visually, culminating in an impressive AR experience (via app download) which gives more detail on the whisky, design and collaboration via short videos from Polly and David. It's a fun and unique (in the world of whisky) way to add a little joy / interactivity to the experience. 


As for the whisky itself, details are limited, but we do know that it includes whisky from first fill sherry butts & ex-bourbon casks, along with "selected refill and virgin oak casks" (no word on if the refills are ex-sherry or ex-bourbon, or something else however).

I never covered it on the blog, but some of you may know I wasn't the biggest fan of Concept No.1 (for me, the "reverse" sherry-then-bourbon cask maturation didn't quite hit the mark), but I found No.2 to be a big improvement. So the big question is, how does the series finale stack up? Let's find out...

The Macallan Concept No.3 (40.8% ABV, NAS, Speyside Scotland, $TBC)
Colour: Yellow golden sunset.

Nose: Sweet yellow fruits - apricot and peach. Subtle ginger followed by a big dollop of honey, and sweet mandarin.

Palate: A lot of sweetness, with soft peach and pear notes, floral / pot pourri notes, and subtle vanilla hints. There's plenty here to let you know it's a Macallan, but it's sweeter than you might be familiar with (especially when compared with other recent NAS Macallans).

Finish: Medium in length, sweet and spiced (allspice), with vanilla hints at the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 90/100. A sweeter Macallan, but a well-constructed one and one that I suspect will be popular with a wide cross-section of drinkers. 


The Macallan Concept No.3 is available now via travel retail globally. A big thanks to The Macallan Hong Kong for the set pictured here.


Friday 8 October 2021

Highland Park Hong Kong Single Cask Edition #4 [Tasted #542]

Edrington's two most well-known distilleries (The MacallanHighland Park) get a lot of airtime on this blog, and that's largely because their commanding presence in the HK market means they can bring some pretty cool whiskies here, and launch them with some pretty amazing events

One area the brands really differ though is in their single cask offerings. The Macallan has the "Exceptional Single Cask" program (which has included everything from 12yo to 67yo whisky), but these are pretty tough to get a hold of, and typically come with a price tag to match their rarity (to be fair, their retail prices are very reasonable - but rarely can they be found at retail prices!)

(The Macallan also have a private cask program, but it's so incredibly limited I won't cover it here.)

Highland Park's single cask program on the other hand has seen hundreds of casks released, often at very reasonable prices. Some have been specific to certain shops, whisky clubs, bars or events, others are specific to the distillery visitor centre and yet others are bottled only for certain locations. In the latter camp, we've previously seen no less than four HK-exclusive casks (the first of which we covered almost 3 years ago) and now, Hong Kong has it's fourth - this time an 18yo!

Distilled in 2001 and bottled in 2020 @ 56.6% ABV, the Highland Park "Hong Kong Edition 4" 18yo comes from a refill Hoghhead (Sherry no doubt) and is limited to 296 bottles. It also comes in a pretty nice and very heavy wooden box.

To celebrate the new single cask, and the launch of the latest edition 50yo (which I later tasted thanks to Dram Good Stuff, but that's for another post...) a lunchtime tasting and pairing was held at St Regis Hong Kong with HK whisky stalwart Ron Taylor. The canapés were delicious and the whiskies expertly paired, but there was one whisky I was there to taste, and really spend some time with, and that was the new single cask...

Highland Park Single Cask Series "Hong Kong Edition 4" (56.6% ABV, 2001-2020, 18yo, Refill Hogshead #2585, 1 of 296 bottles, Orkney Scotland)
Colour: Amber copper.

Nose: Slight sulphur notes at first, then followed by citrus (calamansi?), vanilla and sour mix. The sulphur dissipates but some mild tannins remain, alongside some sweet orange notes.

Palate: Zesty orange, vanilla and coffee grounds. It has a sweetness, but at the same time there's a robust earthy note. Slight hints of grassy peat, then raw honey, hazelnut and orange chocolate. A few drops of water adds a little more earthy spice, with a hint of vanilla.

Finish: A long, floral honey nuttiness.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91. A very enjoyable cask.

The Highland Park "Hong Kong Edition 4" 18yo sells for $4,650HKD at Dram Good Stuff (but given its limited outturn, I suspect it won't be around for long).

A big thanks to Edrington Hong Kong, Ron and Lee Wolter for the invitation to the event.