Tuesday 22 August 2023

Halcyon Spirits 30yo Single Cask 1993 Macallan [Tasted #646]

Whilst this blog may feature a lot of "OB" whisky, you only need to see my Instagram stories on any given day to know I'm a fan of Independently Bottled whisky...to the extent that it probably makes up 80% of what I drink these days.

I have my favourites of course, but I also love trying whiskies from new "Indies" on the market - no easy feat, considering the difficulties in obtaining quality casks these days. Heck, the scene has changed so much that even IB stalwart Gordon & MacPhail recently announced their intention to cease independent bottling!

I was recently contacted about a new Scotland-based Independent Bottler, Halcyon Spirits, family-owned and based in Aberdeenshire. Founded by Daniel & Craig Milne (responsible for both Whisky Hammer & Still Spirit, now 49% owned by HK-based Rare Whisky Holdings) the bottler has a warehouse of over 2,000 casks which presumably means we'll be seeing many more bottlings to come.

Kicking things off with a bang, Halcyon released their first bottling in June - none other than a 30yo 1993 vintage single cask Macallan (from a First Fill Sherry cask no less).

Bottled by Halycon at a cask strength 49.8% ABV, the whisky comes in at £2,950 per bottle, with only 238 bottles available here (at the time of writing, there were only 97 remaining). As nice touch, Halcyon Spirits will also fund the planting of ten trees for every bottle sold, meaning this inaugural release will result in 2,380 trees being planted.

Described by David Robertson (former Macallan Master Distiller) as “a superb example of a well matured Spanish oak sherry vintage whisky", I was fortunate enough to receive a sample from the folk at Halcyon so I could share my own thoughts.

As a side note, when I taste samples I'll often taste half, then come back to the other half a little later and see how it's evolved. This time "a little later" became several weeks, and it was interesting to see how the whisky evolved over that time, with the breathing space adding an extra (positive) dimension the second time around, despite the sub-50% ABV.

Halcyon Spirits "Halcyon Release #1" Macallan Aged 30 Years (49.8% ABV, Single Malt, 30yo, 1 of 238 bottles, Scotland, £2,950)
Colour: Deep Ruby-Copper

Nose: Fresh sherry and oak, with a good whack of maltiness. There's "old sherry wood" complexity here, but accompanied by the freshness and vibrancy of a younger dram too. After time, I found hints of coffee grounds, dates, and an unusual (but welcome) herbal note, along with some maple syrup.

Palate: Initially, big fruit - not the spicy, nutty oak that the colour and nose suggested, but more strawberry gum(!) and interestingly, Eucalyptus! I spoke to a few other bloggers who found it a touch soapy, but for me it was more Eucalyptus (my Aussie upbringing perhaps?) 

After another 10-15min, some trademark sherry notes started to emerge - cigar box, toffee, cinnamon, caramel, but still with an underlying Eucalypt / herbal note, and after a few weeks, more of a rounded, caramel malt note. Not exactly what I was expecting, but certainly enjoyable, and isn't uniqueness the whole point of a single cask anyway?

Finish: Long, warming oak with slight tannins only towards the very end.

Rating (on my very non-scientific scale): 91/100 (Martin). A very solid showing for the first bottling from a new bottler (although clearly one with history and experience in the industry). Really looking forward to seeing what they release by way of future bottlings.

A big thanks to Halcyon Spirits & WSW for the sample.


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