It is a dark and stormy day in the Windy City. Plummeted by freezing rain off the shores of Lake Michigan, I cannot help but long for the Spring season ahead. Yet despite this, I am also reminded that there is perhaps no better weather for enjoying good whisky than what we have today.  And what better whisky to enjoy than the classic Single Malt known as The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old.

For many of us, The Macallan 12 is where it all began. There are very few bottles as identifiable and it is a whisky that can be found behind almost every bar around the world. Unlike the Fine Oak series reviewed previously, The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old is predominately matured in European oak with just a small proportion of Sherry-seasoned American oak.. While American white oak has a mellower, finer and highly contained aroma, European oak delivers a full, intense aroma with far a more tanning character. All of this is evident in The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old.

On the nose, the aromas are bold yet refined. Dark fruit is bursting with sweet toffee and a spicy, sherried richness musters forward. Hints of honey and jasmine are dancing in the distance, only slightly out of reach. There’s a faint sulfuric note which, love it or loathe it, adds a bit of depth. Condensation begins to form on the exterior of my glass as the bright, sherried aromas fight through the heavy wind. Yes, I suppose that The Macallan is best suited for the comfortable indoors. Perhaps it should be enjoyed while nestled in an old leather armchair by a roaring fire while the winter winds punish those who dare go outside. But I simply could not wait to be reacquainted with this old friend. Let’s get into it.

On to the palate. Wow! At 43% ABV, the whisky is bright and vibrant and very much alive. The rich, sherry flavors shine through with but a hint of wood smoke. The smoke element is surprising because Macallan does not use peat to smoke their barley. Perhaps it’s simply the peppery impact on the palate that comes together with a hint of ginger. Needless to say this is a good one. Rich, warming, an absolute pleasure really. The finish is short to medium but lush with a dark sweetness. Yes, this is The Macallan as we know it. A beautiful whisky at a great price.

When it comes to entry level single malts, there quite a few options in the $40-$60 price range. This is, in my opinion, one of the best.

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