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The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Old Whisky

The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Old Whisky   (86/100)
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Posted on May 1, 2011

The oak casks which age The Macallan Sherry Oak Whiskies have been selected from refill Sherry casks originating in Jerez Spain where they previously held aged sherry for two years. Using two-year old Sherry casks is an expensive proposition; however, the makers of The Macallan Whiskies believe that the resulting combination of rich Sherry seasoning, and relatively young oak casks will result in a superior whisky. Indeed in my review I note the strong oak influence which sits astride the Sherry enhancement.

Permission to use this picture was granted by J.L. Wheelock

In the Bottle  4.5/5

The elegant display box housing the Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Old is full of information about The Macallan Whisky, where and how it is made, and why this is important. The box  protects the spirit from the deleterious effects of light ensuring that when I sample the whisky, it is as close to the distiller’s and blender’s intentions as possible, and adds a touch of class and ambiance to the occasion of opening the bottle for the first time.

The box also contains important information regarding the expected nose, palate and finish of the whisky. When selecting a Single Malt for purchase, this information is very important to help you choose one which will be suitable to your particular palate. I deduce from this box that the whisky should deliver the classic Macallan style with rich sherry notes and strong complexity.

The glass bottle containing the whisky is of the same typical Macallan style which they use for most of their whisky range. It is a slightly wide shouldered whisky bottle topped with a solid high density cork and you can see it pictured to the right.

In the Glass 9/10

I poured a little of The Macallan 18 Year Old into a small glencairn glass to observe the colour and consistency of the whisky. It is a rich mahogany which shows strong bronze highlights in the glass. Thick legs form when I tilt the glass and the whisky seems to have a somewhat oily consistency which should be indicative of a long finish.

Upon nosing the glass, smoke-filled sherry notes of raisins, prunes, and dates present themselves forcefully. Damp tobacco, and notes of caramelized brown sugars abound. I also detect a strong oak presence giving the glass somewhat of a cognac flair.

In the Mouth  51/60

The whisky delivers a wallop of smokey sherry flavour and spicy oak as it enters the mouth. The Sherry flavour is rich and intense, and it can easily overwhelm the palate lessening the impact of the other flavour sensations in the whisky. I taste dried fruit (prunes, raisins and dates), charred and caramelized baking spices, a woody cognac with a hint of grape, and a dab of cherry flavour all mingling together.

A few drops of water brings a nice brown sugary sweetness forward, and now I can taste orange marmalade and ribbons of cocoa. The smokey sherry still permeates the whisky but the added water has opened the whisky allowing more of the subtle nuances to be appreciated.

In the Throat  13/15

Echoes of sherry smoke, cocoa, tobacco, and charred sugars tease the throat as the whisky makes its exit. This finish is somewhat dry with an oaky cognac aftertaste residing on the palate long after the glass is gone.

The Afterburn  8.5/10

The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Old Whisky is a rich, full-flavoured dram. It is a whisky which revels in the heritage of the sherry cask. I found that the whisky perhaps carried too much of the sherry forward at the price of losing the lighter nuances. I enjoy light vanillans and subtle butterscotch flavours, however these more subtle flavours were very difficult to recognize being somewhat lost in the cascade of smokey sherry and spicy oak.

I hope this does not sound too critical, as The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Year Old is a fine whisky, and one which I would serve to friends to mark a special occasion with no reservation.

You may read some of my other Whisky Reviews (click the link) if you wish to have some comparative reviews.


As always you may interpret the scores I provide as follows.

0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing rum or whisky.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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