The Ultimate Macallan Tasting
By Franz Scheurer
For many Whisky aficionados Macallan represents the ultimate in Scotch Whisky and a chance of tasting of the entire E.S.C. (Exceptional Single Casks) range lured them to Sydney from all over the world. Shane Kalloglian, Australia’s foremost collector of Macallan whiskies, dug deep into his collection to come up with, what I believe, the most informative and educational Macallan tasting, ever.
Using the new and untried SK-100 glass (procured for the occasion by Shane) we tasted two flights of six. The first flight consisted of the entire E.S.C. (I to VI) range and the second flight visited the 1874, an 8 y/o, a 12 y/o (both bottled in 1983), a Fine & Rare 1976 (unbottled) and finally the two David Le Cornu Private Bottlings, Cask 17112 and 17113 (the last two served blind, simply known as A and B).
The tasting mats contained relevant information for each whisky and for the E.S.C. range this included, apart from distilling and bottling date, a ‘Tipped’ date. According to Gerry Tosh, Brand Ambassador for Highland Park and a participant at the tasting, the ‘tipped’ date is the day when the cask is emptied into a storage area, awaiting bottling. Although many Single Casks are bottled directly from the cask, large, commercial bottling lines do not generally bottle from the cask but tip it into a holding area first. These can be constructed of a variety of materials, stainless steel being the most common.
E.S.C. I – Distilled 22.12.81, aged in Fino Sherry Butt, Tipped 25.07.99 and bottled 23.12.99
E.S.C. II – Distilled 06.03.80, aged in Oloroso Sherry Butt, Tipped 13.06.01 and bottled 11.12.01
E.S.C. III – Distilled 20.11.80, aged in Sherry Butt, Tipped 20.04.02 and bottled 15.05.02
E.S.C. IV – Distilled 27.12.90, aged in Sherry Butt, Tipped 21.01.03 and bottled 22.01.03
E.S.C. V – Distilled 19.01.84, aged in Oloroso Sherry Butt, Tipped 29.11.03 and bottled 30.11.03
E.S.C. VI – Distilled 21.12.90, aged in Sherry Butt, Tipped 16.11.04 and bottled 20.11.04
The E.S.C. I, aged in a Fino Sherry Butt, certainly stood out by being more austere and showing less of the sweet, sherry influence, and to me probably the most interesting whisky in the first flight. E.S.C. V displayed quite a bit of sulphur on the nose, but once accustomed to this, I found it to be the most complex of the range (the majority did not agree with me). The room liked E.S.C. I, VI, III and IV and some liked II. In other words, these whiskies polarized the room and everyone had his or her own personal favourite.
The second flight showed off a brilliant 1874, probably the best of its kind I have ever tasted. Brilliant! The 8 y/o was amazingly fresh, lively and floral and the 12 y/o complex with a beautifully layered texture. Thanks to Maxxium we had a chance to taste the 1976 Fine & Rare, an exceptional whisky that is not bottled as yet and of course had not been released. Jim Murray’s love for David Le Cornu’s cask 17112 is well documented and cask 17113 is much less known. Serving the two blind, side by side again divided the room with 18 votes going to cask 112 and the rest to cask 113. Personally I thought that cask 17113 was the hero of the night and a whisky I’d like to drink.
Although all these whiskies have long been discontinued and are only available occasionally, at horrendous prices, on the secondary market, there are still a few bottles of Cask 17113 available from Graham Wright (the Odd Whisky Coy, Adelaide (08) 8365-4722).
My thanks go to Shane Kalloglian, a very generous host indeed. Thanks also to Graham Wright who MC’d the tasting, the fantastic team at Astral who went out of their way to make things easy, and Maxxium Australia, an importer prepared to go way beyond the expected, for putting on such an amazing event. We all tasted something new, we all learnt something and we will no doubt cherish the memories for a long time to come!