Daily articles and rants about NAS whiskies from enthusiasts around the world are about as predictable as the annual autumnal anti-Jim Murray tirades emanating from every social media platform come mid-October each year. The NAS debate, I feel, has been had. Everyone who wants to throw in their tuppence has had their chance to do so. Hell, our two cents were added by Lucas back in February 2014 (here), however the “NAS debate” now feels tired and rather whiney. Yes, some brands have fucked themselves by producing shit NAS releases at silly prices, and yes, other brands have fucked themselves even more by replacing much-loved age statements with these poor quality substitutes.
So, what has the consumer done? From personal experience (I speak with dozens of whisky consumers daily from novices right through to geeks), they’ve switched brands. Pissed off with Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve? They’ve asked for Glenfiddich 12yo. Think the Macallan Stripper Series… erm… I mean 1824 Series was weak? They’ve gone for Glenfarclas 10/15/21yo or Dalmore 12/15/18yo instead.
What does this tell us? The UK is still very much an age statement orientated market. You might be able to get away with “flavour led” NAS bottlings in other markets, but not here. After decades of being told by brands that age determines price, it’s not in the British public’s psyche to suddenly jump on board a quite different bandwagon. The reaction from one of the aforementioned brands seems to have been a rather tail-between-the-legs reintroduction of a 12yo, albeit with not quite the same cask make-up as that of its predecessor.
Macallan have, in a rather uncharacteristically quiet fashion, released 12yo Double Cask into several markets. This whisky is matured in American oak and European oak sherry casks, with more emphasis on the former cask type than the previous 12yo Sherry Oak. Let’s see how it shapes up.
The Macallan 12yo Double Cask
Nose: Creamy butterscotch, with macadamia nuts and manuka honey. Then raisins, a nutty note and some burnt orange peel.
Palate: Generally quite light, with some dried fruit, plum, treacle toffee and faint spices.
Finish: Some leather and shoe polish linger, with soft oak tannins.
Overall: I’m pleasantly surprised. Some of the signature Macallan notes are there, with honey, dried fruit and orange, but it does lack the depth of the 12yo Sherry Oak. Nevertheless, this is a return to form, of sorts, for Macallan. I’m not a fan of Gold or Amber, and find Sienna and Ruby overpriced for what they are. Although you’re not getting much change out of £50 for this whisky, the signs are encouraging.