Macallan 15-year-old triple-cask scotch is a complex, well-balanced and engaging single malt. The palate offers spicy oak-driven flavors of grains, baked bread, candied orange and sweet spice.
Classification: single malt scotch
Company: Edrington Group
Distillery: New Macallan Distillery
Cask: Sherry-seasoned American oak, sherry-seasoned European oak, ex-bourbon
Still Type: Forsyths alembic-style Scottish copper pot stills
Proof: 86 (43% ABV)
Aged: 15 years (minimum)
- Well-balanced single malt with an engaging flavor profile
- Offers spice-and-oak complexity to Macallan’s traditional “sherry bombs”
- May be too light-bodied for Islay whisky drinkers seeking smoke and peat
- Fans of Macallan’s traditional sherry cask influence may need some convincing.
Color: Deep gold with a hint of rose gold or amber
Nose: A medley of grain notes, dried fruit, light caramel and vanilla, and soft wet oak
Palate: At the front of the mouth it’s soft and round, with a hint of oak spice, dark chocolate, notes of caramel, baked bread, candied orange spice and brandied raisin. On the midpalate, it’s medium- to full-bodied with a buttery softness and touch of pepper and spice. Toward the back of the throat, oak, baking spice and white pepper dominate, and the sherry fruit notes follow up.
Finish: Medium-long finish of baked apple, soft candied orange, clove, raisin and oak
Macallan is one of the largest single malt distilleries in Scotland with a dedicated fan base. It manages to offer well-regarded core and entry-level products while also dominating the scotch auction circuit with out-of-this-world 40-, 50- and 60-year expressions. In 2018, the label, which dates back to 1824, opened its completely new distillery and visitor experience. The stylized state-of-the-art distillery, with its already iconic grass-covered roof, boasts 24 of Macallan’s “curiously small” copper pot stills (along with 12 large primary wash stills) designed specifically to create an “oilier” and more full-bodied scotch. That said, thanks to a lack of peat and the use of sherry-seasoned casks for aging, the overall effect of this Speyside entry is rounder and more approachable to the newcomer compared with many single malts.
The 15-year triple-cask scotch is part of Macallan’s larger effort to evolve beyond its sherry-forward core expressions. Once, all of the brand’s expressions were aged exclusively in oloroso sherry casks sourced from Jerez, Spain. (The brand claims to use the vast majority of all first-fill sherry casks employed in scotch whisky.) Rather than using existing Spanish oak barrels left over from the sherry industry, Macallan selects a mix of new European and American oak barrels to send to Spain, where sherry is used to season the barrels for a year or more. In contrast to the sherry bombs, the triple-oak-cask series means fans of bourbon-barrel-finished scotch now have options as well. New-make spirit is dropped into three different barrels: sherry-seasoned new European oak, sherry-seasoned new American oak and first-fill ex-bourbon casks. Each is independently aged for 15 years, then married and rested to create the finished product. The result is an elegant medley of orange spice, oak, dark chocolate, baking spices and dried raisins, plums and currants. There may genuinely be something for everyone here.
At this price point and with this complexity already embedded into the spirit, I would shy away from using this in cocktails, opting instead to sip it neat or perhaps with a few drops of water or an ice cube. This is where your Glencairn glass really comes into play.
There’s really very little to complain about in this bottle. Fans of bolder Islay whiskies may find it a bit too easygoing, while those who prefer the rich fruit notes of sherry-cask-aged scotch may miss that rich sweetness and Christmas-y goodness.
In 2018, Macallan discontinued its popular fine-oak range and replaced it with the triple cask. Both are aged in three different casks. In addition, triple cask arrived in a stylish new bottle design and carton to align it with other premium releases in the portfolio.
The bottom line: Macallan 15-year triple cask is a complex sipper that rewards you with an evolving bouquet and palate, thanks to the marriage of three different cask influences.