The Macallan Amber

I’ve tried a few Macallan whiskies and always found them quite nice, but maybe just a bit uninteresting. I’m not exactly sure why that is, I think I generally just prefer a bolder dram. Nevertheless, I was interested to find out what The Macallan’s newer NAS offerings would have to offer. Not so long ago, they did away with several age-statement expressions from their core range and replaced them with what has been called the “1824 Range”, which differentiates whiskies based on colour. In this new lineup are the new Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby whiskies. As the names suggest, each whisky is a darker, more deeply coloured dram than the one before it and, judging by the prices, it’s clear that the distillery’s assertion is that this is their new basis for quality… What could this mean for the use of E150a? (I’d rather not think about it too much!)

Anyway, this review is for The Macallan Amber, which I’m left to assume/hope will at least be of similar quality to the old 12yr Fine Oak. The Amber runs around $80 per bottle here in Alberta – it’s bottled at 40% abv.  

To the Eye

Amber, go figure! The bright old gold of a rich honey… This is how I like my whisky to appear. A swirl of my Glencairn eventually reveals thick, stubborn legs that reluctantly return to the dram below.

In the Nose

Overall, a gentle and approachable nose, as I expect from The Macallan. Fruit-filled sherry is up front, along with some juicy orchard fruits, vanilla, toffee and cardamom. As the glass breaths a bit a fresh citrus is revealed and some interesting, slightly vegetal aromas develop – there’s a subtle dusty hay-like quality about this dram and occasional hints of some salty seaweed. With time, an almost meaty aroma also develops… I can’t shake the idea of some kind of Asian aroma and I’m left thinking of those weird rice crackers in those snack mixes.

On the Tongue

That Eastern character is solidified as the first sip is full of umami and that notion of meatiness comes up again. This dram is not sweet and, while it does hint at some rather young whisky as part of the malt, it’s still nicely balanced and there seems to be a modest variety of flavours to coax out. Oatmeal squares cereal, leather and a subtle oakiness all make an appearance. I’m left wanting for those juicy fruits that were suggested on the nose. The finish is medium-short, with a strong impression of graphite and a buttery flavour, kind of like breakfast toast.

Final Thoughts

Good. There’s not really anything to dislike but neither is there anything particularly memorable about it. The Macallan Amber has some interesting qualities about it, but it certainly didn’t knock my socks off. There are several drams at a similar price point, and less, which I would rank well ahead of this whisky.

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