With the seemingly insatiable appetite for aged stock of single malt these days, prices of mature bonded stock have risen considerably – especially for those blue chip distilleries and names everyone wants. Those lucky or smart enough to buy some casks in the 1990s or earlier when they were – by today’s standards – astonishingly cheap (one day I’ll tell you the story about the 1965 hogshead of Lagavulin that someone thought was too expensive at £250 in 1990) are now reaping hitherto unimagined rewards.
Perhaps the most glaring example of this is the price now paid for privately owned casks of Macallan. Most are traded privately by brokers, bottlers and individuals for reportedly serious sums in the upper end of the five figure range. So, it’s rare that one, let alone two, mature casks of Macallan make it into a single auction. Auctioning casks is not something we’ve gone out of our way to do here at Whisky Online, but it’s always exciting when one turns up. So, needless to say, we were pretty thrilled to have a pair of 1993 Macallan hogsheads.
However, there’s always an element of risk involved in buying these kinds of casks if you aren’t able to check the liquid yourself. So, with this in mind, we thought we’d offer some tasting notes from the samples drawn at the time of the casks most recent gauging in April 2017 and sent to us by the vendor.
Macallan 1993. Cask 4130. Hogshead. 55.6%.
Nose: It’s a fresh and pretty classical, ‘naked’ style Macallan. Biscuit, varnished wood, a plush assortment of green fruits and even something tropical like a little passionfruit. Plenty typical notes of cereals, muesli – it’s quite savoury in fact – and a little green fruit compote. With water: becomes more mineral and gravelly. Notes of paprika and freshly ground white pepper. Again more very elegant tropical fruit notes linger in the back. Quite an intriguing nose for a Macallan – but the natural weight and heft of the distillate shines through well.
Palate: A little hot on delivery but gives way nicely to tobacco leaf, gingerbread and muscovado sugar. Also some nice leathery notes follow along with a pleasant leafiness. I suspect this is a refill sherry hogshead. It’s also quite diverse from the nose but in a pleasantly surprising way, the sherry components were not so evident on the nose. With water: more spicy with water along with added notes of treacle, plum wine and a little camphor as well. Again quite sturdy, classical Macallan.
Finish: Good length. Medium sweetness from the residual sherry influence along with some nutty and earthy notes which lift the whole thing nicely. Good balance between sweet and savoury throughout.
Comments: This is a quality Macallan. In my opinion, it would benefit from approximately another 5 years ageing. Although it is already of good character with some lovely idiosyncrasies such as these wee tropical touches on the nose and the more sherry-driven palate.
Macallan 1993. Cask 4131. Refill sherry hogshead. 53.3%.
Nose: Pow! Now this is Macallan! Beautifully resinous, mineral and nervous sherry. Ridden with nuts, wet earth, wax jackets, dundee cake, treacle and various dark fruit compotes. A wonderful throwback to style of Macallan that’s long disappeared from most contemporary bottlings. It feels like you could be nosing an old Anniversary Malt from the early 2000s. Goes on with some green fruit, black pepper, a little graphite perhaps – some dried mushrooms. With water: broader and more earthy with a beautiful and gentle streak of something medicinal like gentian. Some green peppercorns, aged pinot noir and furniture oil. Quite complex and compelling.
Palate: A wonderful continuation of the nose. Many dark fruits: dates, fig jam, damsons, sultanas and raisins stewed in cognac. Pepper, black tea, molasses, a touch of old rum and some old Vin Juane wine and walnut oil. Many classical flavours such as aged Balsamico and rancio all make appearances as well. With water: again its earthier and drier. The sherry is a little more ‘free and easy’ not quite as taught and nervous as to begin with. More notes of various red and dark fruit jams, some coal hearth notes and more chewy walnut notes.
Finish: Long, earthy, nicely drying, herbal and with resurgent notes of old balsamico, camphor and a little rancio.
Comments: An excellent and truly classical Macallan in the way the sherry and distillate integrate beautifully and with great deft and balance. This one you could bottle straight away or leave for perhaps another 2-3 years. But my feeling is that this one is really approaching its zenith.
Auction Ends Wednesday 5th July from 8 pm.
Any further queries please do not hesitate to ask.
Call: 01253 620 376 | Mobile: 07767 22 22 00 | Email: auctions@whisky-online.