When I hear the name Macallan, I think about one of the largest and finest distilleries in Scotland. They began distilling whisky in 1824 along the Spey River in the village of Craigellachie, located in the Moray council area of Scotland. In 2009, the distillery released a line of whiskies in commemoration of when the distillery was first licensed. The 1824 Collection is a range of four superb whiskies at varying price points ($70-$2000). The Select Oak is the first of this quartet which is “crafted from an exceptionally wide and unique combination of five cask types, delivering extraordinary smoothness, remarkable sweetness and depth.” It is a combination of first-fill European oak casks seasoned with sherry, and American oak casks seasoned with either Oloroso sherry or bourbon.
Interested in purchasing a bottle? Be prepared to travel, as one can not simply head down to his local liquor store and purchase a dram from the 1824 Collection. In order to acquire a bottle from the 1824 Collection, one must travel abroad as the line is distributed exclusively to the “Global Travel Retail Market.”
This past summer, I acquired a bottle of the Select Oak from a shop at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland for right around $75. The box is a foiled kelly green with a gold interior. The bottle is heavy and boasts a holographic seal of the Macallan farmhouse along the bottom rim of the cork foil and bottle.
Upon first inspection it’s evident that this is a remarkably smooth scotch for not being age stamped. There is not an overly present amount of alcohol (40% ABV), but there is a malt base. As I continue to nose the glass, I pick up hints of honey, vanilla, and butterscotch.
When tasting the Select Oak, there is a mild taste of alcohol that turns into a sweet base with hints of sherry. The vanilla and butterscotch is still very present on my palate. As I continue to explore the medium complexities of this whiskey, I find just a hint of licorice on the back of my palate.
The finish is smooth (which is to be expected from The Macallan) with a hint of spice and a slight warmth that stays with me for but a moment. With my first large breath there is a crispness that lingers of sweet butterscotch.
The Select Oak has many characteristics of a younger scotch with slight nuances and overtones that are found in a good 15 to 18 year cask. This is a fine scotch for the person who is interested in transitioning from using ice or water to taking the plunge and enjoying their scotch neat without spending over $100 a bottle. At around $75 (not including your traveling expenses, of course), the Select Oak has everything you would expect from The Macallan.
So if you’re traveling abroad, or find yourself in the “Global Travel Retail Market,” pick up a bottle. I’m certainly glad I did!
photos by Daniel