Macallan Double Cask 12yo, 15yo & 18yo

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When Macallan released the 12yo Double Cask in 2016, it was generally heralded as the start of a much anticipated return to age statements, following the fairly lukewarm reception the Stripper Series 1824 Series received when it was launched in 2012. Gold, Amber, Sienna, and Ruby were brought in to replace everything in the Sherry Oak and Fine Oak range right from ten years old up to seventeen years old in order to protect maturing stock. As much as I wasn’t a fan of this range, Macallan were simply victims of their own success. When the whisky boom exploded in the late noughties, they simply didn’t have enough mature stock to simultaneously satisfy demand and hold onto their age statements. Something had to give, and the answer was the introduction of an NAS range.

We’re now eight years down the line, and we’re gradually seeing a return to ranges full of age statements. Whether it’s the much sought after Sherry Oak range, the Triple Cask Matured range, or the new Double Cask range, they all come with a number on the label rather than a colour. The first of these Double Cask releases, as I mentioned, was a 12 year old, and it’s recently been joined by a 15 year old and an 18 year old. These whiskies are matured entirely in sherry casks, with the ‘Double’ coming from the two types of oak used; American (from Ohio, Missouri, and Kentucky) and European (from northern Spain and the French Pyrenees). The casks are seasoned with oloroso sherry for two years in Spain, before being shipped to Macallan to be filled with spirit.

Speaking of these releases, Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker, Kirsteen Campbell, said: “Bringing together American and European oak sherry seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the Whisky Mastery Team, and we are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore.”

Let’s give the whole range a whirl.

Macallan 12yo Double Cask
American and European Oak Oloroso Casks
40% ABV
£51.95 here

Nose: Very soft, with buttered croissants, warm crumpets, well fired crème brûlée, cinnamon swirls, and dusty oak shavings.

Palate: Toffee apples and fruit scones, caramel shortbread, and caramelised sugar. There’s a sweet nuttiness too – pecans and hazelnuts – but it’s all very light.

Finish: On the dry side, with orange peel and freshly chopped logs.

Macallan 15yo Double Cask
American and European Oak Oloroso Casks
43% ABV
£90.95 here

Nose: Earthier and spicier than the 12yo, with dusty cinnamon, faint clove, and a touch of dark chocolate. There’s also rum and raisin ice cream, butterscotch, rich honey, apple pie, poached pear, and little green, leafy note too.

Palate: Lots of drying spices initially, with nutmeg, more cinnamon, and a touch of crushed black peppercorn. Then sultana cake, orange blossom, crystallised ginger, and lots of stewed and cooked orchard fruits, followed by a firm oakiness.

Finish: Really quite oaky, with drying baking spices.

Macallan 18yo Double Cask
American and European Oak Oloroso Casks
43% ABV
£249.95 here

Nose: Ah, there’s that trademark Macallan fruitiness! Cherry and sultana cake, malt loaf, and plum jam. Then manuka honey, clove, candied walnut, and warm Danish pastries.

Palate: Brambles, blackcurrant, dark cherry, marmalade on toast, and lots of sweet citrus peels. Some tingling wood spice rounds things off.

Finish: The fruit lingers, along with a touch of dark chocolate, tea leaf, and woody spices.

Overall: It’s been a while since I last tasted the 12yo Double Cask (probably when it launched in 2016), and it’s every bit as light and easy going as I remember. It’s not my favourite Macallan, not by a long shot, but with it being such a massive brand it’s liquid like this which becomes a ‘gateway’ whisky for so many people. The type of whisky someone will try in a bar having never tried single malt Scotch before, or have an impulse glass of it at the office party, or toast with it at a wedding or christening… simply because the brand is a byword for luxury and success. And to be honest, I’m fine with that. For most people reading this blog, this whisky isn’t aimed at you. You’re logging on to a geeky, pokey, niche website written by an anorak. 1972 Brora? Now I’ve got your attention. But this 12yo is quite the opposite in terms of what it’s trying to do. It is, instead, a whisky aimed at someone who is completely green to single malt. And with that in mind, it works well.

To the two new releases. The 15yo and 18yo aren’t simply siblings, not in terms of flavour profile anyway. The 15yo is much earthier and richer, and focusses more on the spicier, tannic side of sherry casks. If that kind of grippy whisky is what you’re into, then this is will really appeal. The 18yo shows much more of that classic rich fruitiness the Macallan is famous for, and for that reason, purely in terms of flavour, it’s my preferred dram of the three. Being Macallan, that obviously comes at a price. As-near-as-damnit £250 for an 18yo is pretty damn outrageous, even in these crazy times, and in my opinion, that rich, oily, robust spirit works much better when exclusively matured in European oak. Looking at it its competitors (with sole regard to age and sherry cask maturation), there are much, much more affordable 18 year olds out there – Glengoyne, Aberlour, Dalmore, Glendronach et al. But then again, I suppose that’s the price you pay for luxury and success.




  1. I am a BIG fan of the 15 year. Got a chance to try the 18 and granted, it was delicious… but I can’t justify spending that much more for it. 15 year is the perfect happy-medium in my opinion.

  2. Thanks for your comment STX+BRL. I totally get where you’re coming from – the additional £150+ to trade up from the 15yo to the 18yo is a huge jump. Purely based on flavour, I prefer it to the 15yo, but if it was hard earned cash being spent on a bottle, I’d probably go for the 15yo too, or a much more affordable 18yo as mentioned above.


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