Macallan 12 Year Old Sherry Oak (UK VS USA Version)

Macallan_12yo

This is an interesting one which seems to be at the heart of the controversy over the newish 1824 NAS whisky range. For many years the Macallan 12 year old has been a much cherished core expression from Macallan. It was the flagship whisky which introduced many to the joys of Macallan and to Scotch whisky in general. In 2012/2013 the 1824 series of no age statement Macallan’s was released starting with the Gold and prices for the Macallan 12 started going up. In the UK the 12 was thought to be discontinued but actually they have just reduced the amount available so that it’s harder to find and usually priced over 50 quid. However, the US seems to still have a steady supply of the 12 at very reasonable prices.

We tried the UK version of the Macallan 12 at a WOLS tasting and the USA version from a bottle I bought in the US and I was surprised to find that they were quite different. The first difference is the ABV. The US version comes in at 43% and the UK version is at 40%. With US bottlings having a volume of 750ml compared to the UK 700ml and the higher ABV you are getting a good deal more undiluted whisky in the US version. Couple that with the much more affordable US price tag and the whole deal seems quite unfair for the British. I really don’t understand why the ABV’s are different for the two markets but this is an important detail to look out for. Many people assume that an expression will have the same  ABV wherever they buy it but this could not be further from the truth. One retail trick I have seen is that some travel retail exclusive whiskies will be more diluted than their non-duty free counterparts.

The second difference I found between the two versions is that the US version seemed to be more flavourful. It had richer aromas and a stronger character. This could have something to do with the ABV but it’s clear that they are from different batches and perhaps they are blended slightly differently for the two markets. Anyway, we should probably get on to the tasting notes now. We included tasting notes for bother versions.

Distillery: Macallan Distillery

Age: 12 Years Old

Cask: Sherry Casks

ABV: 40% in Europe or 43% in the USA

Price: £62.86 at the Master of Malt or $49.99 at K&L Wines


 

TheMadVatter

UK Version

Nose

Deep wine sweetness. Tannins and oak. Really nice kind of sweet savoury tangy slight sulphur tang. Fresh summer Berries that are slightly over ripe and fermented.

Taste

Red wine sweetness again. With tart and bitter oak. Strong tannins and very red wine.

Finish

Floral with caramel syrup. Lingering oak tartness.

Rating

7

Afterthoughts

As a lover of wine aged whiskies I really like the nose on this. I think the flavour would be more appealing at a higher abv (US version is better!). The finish is nice but not very special. Very enjoyable finish though. Smooth but still intriguing.

 

USA Version

Nose

Heavy musk of sweet wine, leather, and new rubber outsoles. Bit of dark chocolate and hazelnut spread. It’s a very dominating smell which just fills your nose.

Taste

A kind of chocolatey nutty tanginess. Ripe figs. That typical Macallan fruit savoury funky note which I still cannot quite fully describe. Dry oak with some tannins. Fruit and chocolate syrup. A bit peppery.

Finish

Dark chocolate, dry old oak. Some bitter tannins. Hint of dried fruits.

Rating

7.5

Afterthoughts

This is a much more intense and characterful whisky than the UK version. It has a depth to it that just demands seriousness. compared to this the UK version feels light and a bit shallow. I am not sure if it is the higher ABV or just because it’s from a different batch but I liked this one quite a bit more than the UK version. It’s also a much better deal. I would probably recommend this for a dark and stormy night or just whenever.

 

AliceInWhiskyland

UK Version

Nose

Astringent, cereals, bouquet of spring flowers, vanilla custard cremes.

Taste

Sweet cereals, golden syrup oatmeal, vanilla bark.

Finish

Bitter-sweet finish

Rating

6

Afterthoughts

Light sweet dram, great for spring/summer.

 

USA Version

Nose

Sweet Vanilla, wet painters canvas – acrylics.

Taste

Rich fruits, sweet syrup mixed with earthy bitterness.

Finish

Dry sherry, bitter spices to finish

Rating

7

Afterthoughts

Richer than its UK cousin, interesting profile. Not your average dram.

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