The Macallan (12 year)

Color: Bright Amber

Nose: Sherry, peach, almond/amaretto, golden raisins.

Palate: Rich bodied, big sherry notes of red plums, canned apricots, and well-aged red wine. The oak is heavily present as well, with undertones of vanilla, and a sweet, sappy, freshly-cut-lumber quality. Young, sharp, and bright tasting, although the complexity of the malt is overshadowed by the heavy sherry and oak influences. Not as sophisticated as the older Macallans, but shows a decent balance between oak, sherry, and malt.

Finish: Long and evolving, turning fruity and raisiny.

Adding a few drops of water gives the malt a sweeter, more enjoyable aroma, with a hint of flower pollen. On the palate, the water thins the body but reveals flavors of honey, rosewater, and lighter fruits (banana, champagne grapes, peaches, yellow plums). I highly suggest a few drops of water with your Macallan.

ScotchNoob™ Mark:

About The Distillery

The Macallan is big. Real big. Prized by collectors, consumed all over the world, The Macallan is a marketing powerhouse, with a very wide range of single-malt expressions targeting local tastes in every major market. Distilling almost continuously since 1824 when Scotland first legalized the production of spirits, The Macallan releases “replicas” of its older bottlings and also continuously experiments with new finishes. With global whisky tastes evolving away from the classic “all Sherry, all the time” style, The Macallan is battling its image as a Sherry Monster by releasing a “Fine Oak” range that focuses on the wood influence, and using a lower proportion of Sherry aging. You can always rely on a flagship Macallan to display big sherry notes of dark fruit, raisins, and spice.
The Macallan (12 year)
43% ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $43-$55
Acquired: (Bottle): Costco, Folsom, CA $37.

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  • Although my wife does not enjoy the taste of a good whisky, she loved the smell of this one. She enjoys the smell of the room whenever I pour this. Sherry bomb for sure in my opinion, but that is what makes it one of my special drinks!

  • This was my first scotch I ever tried, and I’m so glad I did. Currently I base all my opinions compared to this. I don’t rate stuff a 3 star, 4 star, etc. I rate it:

    “Is this better than Macallan 12yo? If so, does the price suit my tastes?”

    It’s a simple rating system and it works for me.

    While some call this a “sherry bomb”, I don’t feel the sherry overpowers anything. While the sherry flavor is at the forefront of the nose/taste, it’s balanced IMO. Well worth the $50 price tag here in Ohio. My top 3 for sure.

  • Good grief. Whatever they are doing is absolute genius. It’s not even close, people. It’s not a peat deal , it’s not smokey, but it is a sweet, sweet wisky.

  • At the moment my two favorite scotches are this Macallan 12 year and Laphroaig 10 Year. That said they could not be more different – the slightly sweet and smooth Macallan vs. the smoke/peat/more smoke of the Laphroaig.

    I am a relative newb at Scotch, and I have a few different bottles of Islay malts on order (Ardbeg 10, Laphroaig QC, Lagavulin). But I expect that I will always have a bottle of Macallan 12 on hand, it is that good.

  • I was really looking forward to this. It tastes like bourbon to me. I like bourbon, but not what I was looking for when I bought the bottle. I’m still trying to find that go to skotch. I prefer glenlivet 12 to this. I’m looking for something like the glenlivet with more burn and complexity.

    • Hi Flip, you might be reacting to the sweetness of the sherry-cask influence in the Macallan. It sounds like you prefer the plainer style of scotch, which is aged in ex-bourbon barrels (like Glenlivet), and which turn out less sweet than sherry-aged scotches. Try Balvenie DoubleWood 12 year, which is a combination of both types, or Glenmorangie 10 year. If you like complexity, you might also try out a peated scotch, like Laphroaig 10 or Ardbeg 10, which are very complex. 🙂 Cheers!

  • Thanks for the insight and recommendations. Interesting thing happened. I had my 2nd dram of macallan 12. And it was a completely different experience. Tonight, I got the “sweetness” and really enjoyed it. The other day just must have been a day I should of had something else. I had just had a large meal, maybe that had something to do with it. And thanks to your review, I already have a bottle of laphroaig. Can’t say it’s my favorite but it is something I will always keep in supply. Sounds like doublewood will be my next purchase. Thanks again.

  • Didn’t see a review yet for the 10 year, but that’s what I bought in my newly started quest for Scotch. I first had the Glenmorangie Nectar D’or, and then had a little Irish man tell me to try The Macallan. I’ll always have a sweet spot for the Glenmorangie; but tonight with The Mac I actually had to set a limit- it went down that smooth. My wife who does not drink smelled the difference right away- even she gave it positive marks. I am amazed. Can’t wait for tomorrow night.

  • This is mostly a response to Flip’s comment above. I have been trying single malts for about 2 months now. I have tried several, and most of them have tasted quite different to me the second time around. It must be the effects of oxidation on the whisky!

    I just read the comment by Tim about the Macallen 10. THat is on sale right now in PA, so I was going to give it a shot in the next day or two. Can anyone comment on how it compares to the Macallen 12? I recently tried the Glenmorangie Lasanta. I liked it well enough, but it seemed rather unrefined. I was hoping that the Macallan 10 might be more along the lines of what I was looking for in a sherry-finished scotch, but it sounds like it might be heading in a different direction than the Macallan 12.

    • Rodl:

      Mac 10 is part of Mac’s Fine Oak series (10, 15, 17, 21, +) which are matured in ex-bourbon barrels and, as a result have a lighter, more delicate, bourbon influenced flavor. Mac 12 is part of their sherry matured lineup (12, 18, 25, 30) which is matured in ex-sherry casks. As a bourbon drinker mainly, if I venture into Scotch, I prefer deeper, more robust flavors like those in the sherry cask matured scotches like Mac 12 (and the 18; wow!), and those from Islay which are heavily peated and sea influenced (Laphroaig 10 is my favorite thus far). Hope that helps.

      If you’re interested in sherry matured scotches, Scotchnoob has some reviews of Aberlour A’Bunadh, Glendronach, and some others to give you a start.

      • Thanks! I liked the Lasanta enough to think that I would be very interested in sherry matured whiskies. I might still try the Macallan 10, but it sounds like the 12 really needs to be on my list. I’ll also take a look at the other ones that you mentioned.

        • I left out a very important detail when talking about my experience with my second dram. I added a few drops of water. And I literally mean a few tiny droplets of water. At the time I didn’t think such a small amount of water would make such a big difference. I always prided myself as someone who drank whisky neat. In the case of macallan 12, I prefer adding just a few drops. I really, really like this stuff. And Rodl, do yourself a favor and try Laphroaig. That’s when I discovered how much variety this skotch hobby has to offer. I love it.

          • THanks for the tip! I did pick up a bottle of Laphroaig Quarter Cask. I liked it well enough, but I’m not as wild about the heavy smoke. I’ll probably try another Islay at some point, but the smoke is probably not for me. I do love both Talisker (my current favorite) and Highland Park 12, so peated water is not a problem for me.

    • Hi Cheese,
      No, this is a review of the old version of Macallan 12 (with an age statement) that has recently been discontinued. When Macallan dropped the age statements, they also reformulated the recipe for the whiskies, which means this review doesn’t apply to any of the new bottlings. I haven’t tried any of them yet, actually.

  • I find this single malt a great intro into the growing world of sherry matured scotch whisky.

    It goes well neat, or when paired with a cigar, or a piece of chocolate, or a steak dinner.

  • This was my first Sherry style Scotch and I really enjoyed it. This will continue to be a staple bottle in my cabinet moving forward. Love the nose, taste and finish of this wonderful dram. Highly recommend!

  • The last bottle of 12 yr I bought was extremely sulfured, it’s been open for a long while now and is just now calming down to where it is decent. I’ll take Aberlour any day over Macallan 12.

    For The people looking for something w/o the sherry; I just tried my first Japanese single malt and it was fantastic. I was gifted a bottle of Yamazaki 12 yr and I couldn’t be more happy with it as a great alternative. I’m excited to venture further into the Japanese market.

  • Good stuff….. HOWEVER…… dare I say a bit overrated? If it were cheaper I think I would like it better, but there are a ton of liquor not just scotches I’d buy before this at it’s price point.