The Macallan Edition No. 1 is the debut of what is to be a limited annual release of non-age statement expressions know as the Edition series. The Macallan, like so many other Scotch whisky distilleries, has been moving away from age statements in response to increasing consumer demand for single malt whisky. While the days of extremely old whisky may be numbered, distilleries have embraced contemporary production methods to continue producing exceptional whisky. The Laphroaig Quarter Cask, the Aberlour A’bunadh, practically everything from Bruichladdich and The Macallan’s 1824 series serves as proof that we have little reason to worry. And now this.
At first glance I just have to say, the packaging of this bottle is absolutely beautiful. It’s elegant, timeless and it just ‘feels’ special in the right ways. Now I know we are not judging this whisky by its bottle but this is the first time I have ever made such a comment and the Edition No. 1 just deserves to be commended. Congratulations marketeers, you have done your job quite well.
In a word, the Edition No. 1 is multi-dimensional. It is made from a unique blend of eight different oak cask types hand selected by the master distiller, Bob Dalgarno. Whisky geeks will appreciate that Macallan has included a description of each cask on the front of the box. American oak, European oak, sherry butts, puncheons, hogsheads, first fill, second fill, it’s practically whisky cask all-star team! Oh and did I mention that each cask used in the production of The Macallan Edition No. 1 has its own Instagram account? OK Macallan. You have my attention.
Now I like all of these things because I like business and marketing and pretty labels, etc. but what I really enjoy most is good whisky. If the whisky itself does not present good value in my mind then all if these things are effectively rendered irrelevant. I am not going to buy it. So will this whisky deliver?
Starting with the nose. Immediate sherry impact full of cinnamon and spice. It’s classic Macallan but with beautiful vanilla undertones and a prominent citrus oil aroma. Similar to the orange peel of the Macallan 18 but perhaps more lively in this expression. Not as dark. The majority of casks used for this whisky are European sherry casks but the American oak makes a great contribution to the aroma as well. Wow! Strong and peppery. This whisky was bottled at 48% and the 5% increase makes for such an exciting delivery. After my first taste, I brought it down to approximately 43% but I could honestly go either way. The first dram was immediately followed by a second, which I enjoyed neat. On the palate the whisky is medium bodied and oily as we like it. Great mouth feel. The spicy tannins of the European oak are perfectly complimented by the creamy vanilla and lush tropical fruit flavors from the American oak. The finish is long and lingering and quite impressive for a whisky at this price point.
Overall, this whisky is very different from any of the others we have covered thus far in our Macallan project: It’s certainly bolder, more forthcoming than the elegant Fine Oak series and it’s perhaps more multidimensional than anything in the traditional sherry oak series simply due to the cask selection. Balance is the key to this whisky. While the iconic Sherry Oak 18 Year is a very complex spirit, much of its complexity derives from nearly two decades of maturation. It is a very elegant, sherry-focused whisky. The Edition No. 1 on the other hand is complex in the sense that there are so many different flavors that likely come from the wide variety of cask types. Is the Edition No. 1 better than the 18 Year? No. Is the 18 Year better than the Edition No. 1? Eh, I can’t say that it is. It’s just different. There may be some older whiskies in this bottle but for the most part it still very young in comparison. But it’s so good and it has this luxurious ‘old world’ feel to it. And at less than half the price of the 18 Year, I can’t help but feel excited for this one.
So there you have it. Everything seems to be clicking with this one. The only downside? It’s a limited release that once gone, will never return. Hopefully The Macallan will continue producing the Edition series with whisky of similar quality and excitement. We will be waiting…