The Macallan Whisky Maker’s Edition

This Travel Retail 700ml bottle, with no age statement, arrives with basically no information on its label about its make-up or provenance. The Internet has revealed that it is comprised of both ex-sherry (the majority) and ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at Distillery Manager Bob Dalgarno’s preferred strength of 42.8% ABV. … In an effort to harken back to traditional styles of single malt scotch, Bob sourced some barrels of Macallan distilled from the now-defunct Golden Promise strain of barley. While the bottle does not state an age, it is (according to Bob) comprised of Macallan aged 12 years and up, with “some much older”.

Transparency in Scotch: Crusade or Marketing Ploy?

After the debacle with the SWA censuring Compass Box’s recent Flaming Heart (5th Edition) and This is Not a Luxury Whisky releases for, literally, revealing too much information about the recipe used in the bottle, Compass Box has come back fighting with a Campaign for Scotch Whisky Transparency. Is this just a publicity and/or marketing stunt by Compass Box to drum up more controversy and thus more exposure, or a righteous crusade for more truth and transparency in whisky marketing? Let’s break it down.

Hochstadter’s Rye

Cooper Spirits company sourced straight rye whiskies aged between 4 and 15 years from five different North American distilleries, located in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Alberta Canada. Then, they did what the Scots have been doing successfully for ages, and vatted them together. … The vats are maintained at the company’s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania headquarters until the components marry and then bottled at a hearty 100 proof (50% ABV) without chill-filtration.

Crown Royal Northern Harvest Rye

The Northern Harvest Rye bottling itself is a blended Canadian whisky comprising a high percentage (90%) of rye. (Most Canadian whisky contains rye, to some extent.) The packaging claims the rye used is from fields that over-winter under cover of snow which, we’re expected to believe, leads to smoother whisky. The result is bottled at 45% ABV. That’s pretty much all Crown has revealed. So, am I about to taste the world’s best whiskey?

Trader Joe’s Highlands Single Malt 12 year (2003 – 2015)

At any rate, this is an ex-bourbon single malt from the Deanston distillery. (The bottle says “Matured in Oak Casks”. Duh.) It was distilled in 2003 and bottled in 2015 at 40% ABV after 12 years of aging. Deanston’s official releases are bottled without chill-filtration, but there’s no telling what Alexander Murray chose to do when bottling this. I found it at Trader Joe’s in California for $30.

Trader Joe’s Speyside Single Malt 13 year (2002 – 2015)

Bland, and somewhat bitter. Not a successful malt. This should probably not have been saved from the mountain of “blending fodder” barrels for which it was no doubt originally destined. There are no redeeming florals, fruits, or even cloying sweets. Instead, it mostly just tastes like insipid wood and alcohol. If you’re standing in a Trader Joe’s right now, trying to make a decision, I’ll make it for you: Get the 12 year-old Highland (psst! It’s from Deanston) instead.