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