The Macallan comes in packaging that seems to be aimed at the task of being difficult to reproduce. The bottle is boxed in a foiled carton that is a distinct dark, purplish red. Inside, the bottle its self is not quite round, but is more and more ovoid closer to the top (this feels odd in the hand at first, but once you’re used to it, it’s quite comfortable.) The makers of the Macallan even
put a seal on the foil over the cork, a holographic sticker like you’d see on officially licensed sportswear or a Microsoft software disk.
In the bottle, The Macallan is distinctly dark brown, and in the glass it’s a medium dark amber. There’s not much to the scent of it when uncorked, and pouring it into a glass doesn’t change that much. It smells not like something aged in casks, but like something that was distilled and bottled right away. I’m not one to spend a lot of time nosing, but even I found my self with my schnoz deep in a tumbler, inhaling slowly and deeply trying to find the scent, like a hound dog being set to the chase.
On first taste, there wasn’t much to find either. There was the flavor of alcohol, and a very subtle taste that was so faint I hesitate to say that I think it’s the wood from a cask. It is very smooth, giving some tingling on the lips, the edges of the tongue, and the top of the throat, with hints of a little burning. But even smoothness doesn’t seem like a much; it just helps to reinforce the feeling that I get that this is less a spirit and more a ghost, with not a lot of substance where you look to find it.
Having finished a glass with not much of an impression, I poured another and dropped an ice sphere in. The cold enhanced the odor and flavor a little, making it smell and taste a bit like whiskey, but not really bringing it to life. It also wasn’t as smooth cold, being chilled ads a little bite, but nothing excessive.
As my ice melted, more flavors started to come out. It became slightly sweet, with a fruity scent and flavor. It developed a smokey taste as well, but in the end still remained very mild. After two glasses, I found my self a quite a bit more intoxicated than I expected to be.
There was no buzz and very little sensation of intoxication in the head, but my body became very relaxed, and as I continued to digest the alcohol began to feel heavy and slack. I do prefer to feel alcohol as a relaxation of muscles rather than an a feeling of drunkenness in the brain, but this whiskey is quite strong, so I think in the future I’ll be keeping it down to one glass to keep from going limp.
Now, I’ve never been one to water whiskey. It seems a little odd to me to put H₂O directly into a spirit, since I usually have a glass of it on hand to sip side by side, to keep hydrated and cleanse my palate. But, since The Macallan seemed to take more to being watered than being chilled, the next day I poured another glass and added a few drops of water directly.
With water, The Macallan’s aroma bloomed, once again becoming sweet and fruity. It tasted sweet too, even sweeter than with ice, but didn’t taste as fruity as before. It took on the maply taste of wood sugar, and while with ice it had tasted smokey, with water tasted almost earthy. After a few minutes, the water also brought out a nutty flavor, and a little later some toastiness as well. Again as with ice, it wasn’t as smooth with water added, but it won’t give you cause to complain.
As someone that enjoys strong, bold flavors, The Macallan’s 12 Year Old single malt was at first a little underwhelming, being as it is on the subtle, meeker side of the flavor spectrum. But, having spent time and made an effort to find the flavors hidden away inside of it, I’ve found I quite enjoy it. Sometimes, having to work for something makes it that much more satisfying.