Jay Liddell is a Scotch man, which works out well as he is one of three brand ambassadors in the United States for The Macallan Scotch. His counter parts reside in New York and LA, but The Macallan has placed Jay in Dallas, as this is the area they consider to be best for celebrating current The Macallan aficionados, and to grow future supporters of this premium single malt scotch. I had an opportunity to sit down with Jay recently to get an insiders perspective on why The Macallan is so special.
First thing to get out of the way is why The Macallan is referred to as “The Macallan.” Simply said, would you refer to who some call the greatest rock band of all time as “Beatles?” Of course not. And since The Macallan is the world’s most precious whiskey, you of course refer to it the same way.
This is not just a company belief, in 2007 a 1926 vintage bottle of The Macallan was auctioned off at Christie’s Auction House for a final bid of $54,000, making it one of the most expensive single bottles of liquor ever sold.
This year they are preparing to release an acclaimed 57 year aged single malt (only the second release ever) in hand crafted Lalique crystal, with a price tag around $15,000 a bottle.
For those of us in a different tax bracket looking for a single malt with depth, character and intense flavor the 15 year Fine Oak Highland Single Malt, or the 18 year Sherry Oak Highland Single Malt are solid bets.
The Macallan received its license to distill scotch in 1824 in the Speyside region of Scotland in the Easter Elchies House, Craigellachie about 150 miles north of Edinburgh, (though it had been making it since the 1700’s.) Though there are many distilleries in the region, The Macallan is considered by many to be the best.
This is a clean scotch, with approachable flavors not masked by earthy, smoky peat found in many scotches. Some refer to it as liquid gold, or the Rolls Royce of Scotch. Their refined, slow production process ensures impeccable reviews never change.
The 15 year Fine Oak is aged in three different casks (barrels), American oak Bourbon casks, American oak casks that are used for Sherry, and European oak casks that are also used for Sherry. The Fine Oak series was just started in 2004 and was a break with a 180 year tradition of using only ex-sherry casks made of European oak. Since the 1970’s all casks used began to be hand selected by The Macallan for seasoning with Spanish Sherry for 6 months – 2 years before being sent to Scotland for Single Malt ageing. The Fine Oak is a break from this, and gives a new flavor profile to their traditional Single Malt Scotch Whiskey production.
The 15 year Fine Oak is what Jay calls a “social scotch,” effortlessly enjoyed and approachable, with orange blossom, vanilla and cinnamon aromas. In drinking it neat (without ice or water) chocolate, vanilla and tangerine flavors coat the palate with a long creamy finish. Add water and the high alcohol burn dissipates, softening the flavors and accentuating vanilla, honey and sweet spice tastes. Though easily enjoyed with just a few drops of water, the 15 also can be blended into a delicious cocktail, as shown at Fearing’swith the Fair 15. Created by bartender Ryan Salo and Jay, it’s a blend of 15 Year Fine Oak with Cointreau, Angostura Bitters, Ginger-Ale and lime.
The Macallan 18 Year Sherry Oak is much richer, both in flavor and profile. Aged in the hand selected ex-sherry European casks adding dried fruit, sweet spice and vanilla notes to The Macallan as it ages. The 18 Year aromas accentuate bold honey and smoke with nut, toffee, caramel and dried fruit essences coating the throat and ending with a sweet finish. This is an incredible scotch that is luxurious, yet still accessible.
When Jay and I met The Macallan had a new recruit in Fearing’s guest Sandra Stewart, who gave the 18 Year Old a try for the first time. Predominantly a wine drinker, her 18 Year Old experience was so good she vowed loyalty to The Macallan, as she had another sip. I have to agree with Sandra, as the 18 Year Old is just that good; it will convert most, whether you are new to scotch or have enjoyed other varieties in the past.
And this is what The Macallan and Jay hope to accomplish in Dallas. With the quality of the product it won’t be hard to do as enthusiasts are being made every day. If you too want to become a devotee join Jay this week as he celebrates The Macallan in a series of tastings at Edison’s, outside of downtown Dallas. Click here for information and availability. I promise you will become a believer too.