The Macallan Vertical Tasting @ Cardiff & Newport

It’s great to be back and to celebrate our return we opened a few fantastic Macallan’s from their 1824 range, culminating in the Macallan Ruby. Read on to find out about the evening

After our summer break we’ve returned full of enthusiasm to start sampling some more drams and what better way that to start with something a little special – a Vertical tasting of The Macallan, focusing on the 1824 range.

We had one of our best turn outs this evening, with 27 people joining us for our whisky exploration. We also tried something a little different this evening, including providing nosing samples and starting the evening with a cocktail, but more on that later.

Unlike previous events which have a variety of expressions, such as delicate to peaty, oaky to sherry bomb, or even just scotch to bourbon, tonight was about complexity and subtlety. That’s not to say that these whiskies didn’t have differences, far from it, instead it’s specifically about exploring and understanding the interaction with wood and finishing on the dram, and the 1824 series is perfect to present that.

Here’s a run down of the evenings drams:

Welcome Cocktail – Gordon and MacPhail Speymalt 2006 “Old Fashioned”

Trying something different, we began with a cocktail to awaken the palate. The recipe will be published soon, but essentially this contained a gentle helping of homemade ginger syrup, angostura bitters and a little orange just to highlight the complexities of the dram. It seemed to go down well and no doubt we’ll look into a few options around this in the future. As for the Speymalt, we’ve included this a few times in the past under independent bottlings and it’s classic Macallan, but a little fresher and gentler due to it’s youth. A great way to start the evening though and a perfect spirit for this cocktail.


Macallan Gold – 40%

A feature of many whisky cabinets around the world, the Gold is the start of the 1824 series. Most people have no doubt tried this in the past, but it’s a great way to start to understand the development of the spirit. Light, fresh, citrus and a little menthol are prominent, with green apples and malty notes throughout. Obviously not the favourite of the evening, but a popular dram overall.

Macallan 1824 Amber – 40%

Now the first time we sampled this, I will admit, I wasn’t impressed – specifically the ‘wave’ of flavours was just too delicate for me. The second time, it’s grown on me. It’s not so much a weakling of a whisky, but more ‘dainty’ – you have to look for the flavours and then you are rewarded by them. Very floral, a little butterscotch and ginger, it’s above a breakfast whisky in character. The overall favourite of about a tenth of the group.

Macallan 10 year Old Fine Oak – 40%

While the previous two drams featured only sherry casks, the fine oak also features some american ex-bourbon, and that really shows in the comparative depth of this dram. The three different woods give it a much more traditional whisky style, with a bit more body and sweetness than the first two 1824 series. It still features the same quality mouth feel as the rest of the Macallan’s, created by the short stills and finer spirit cut. As expected this was a popular expression of the evening, but few people’s overall favourite.

Macallan Sienna – 43%

What a difference a few percentages of proofing makes!  Much warmer than the 40%’s of the previous drams it just adds a little ‘kick’ to the last two expressions that are definitely worth paying the extra for. Still very smooth and extremely well balanced this dram is quite drying with the sherry influence, with lots of dark fruit notes; dates, figs but still has enough sweetness to carry the expression along. Without doubt the most popular dram of the evening.

Macallan Ruby – 43%

At nearly £150 a bottle, this was the peak of the evenings exploration into spirit and sherry. The most impressive part of expression is the colour, obviously a deep ruby red – created using no artificial colourings. Created using only 1st-fill spanish oak this has very strong sherry flavours, but isn’t a sherry ‘bomb’ like a Glenfarclas – it’s much more controlled and balanced. Even more drying than the Sienna, dried fruits, butterscotch and oak play well together. A very long and lingering finish compliments the overall dram. A favourite of a few people, with the price being the main factor – the opinion being we’d rather have 2.5 bottles of the Sienna than one bottle of the Ruby.

As always, thanks to everyone who attended and special thanks to The Old Market Tavern for providing the venue.

Onto Newport!


The following week we ran the same event in Newport, this time at our new venue at the Pen and Wig. It was another fantastic evenings with very similar results as the previous week – the Sienna clearly the overall winner, few people preferring the Amber as much with the Fine Oak being the 2nd most popular.

Thanks to the Pen and Wig for hosting us and we look forward to seeing you again in November!



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