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Whisky Reviews

Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask, 40% ABV


The Macallan 12 Year Old Double Cask is a staple in the popular Scotch distillery's core range, and is part of the Double Cask range that stretches from 12 Years Old to 30 Years Old. And if there's a Double, there must be a "Single", which yes, there is - it's the Sherry Cask range. Together these two line ups underpin Macallan's flagship year round offering.

As the name suggests, the Double Cask makes use of two casks - that is Sherry-seasoned American Oak casks and Sherry-seasoned European Oak casks. Now compared to the Sherry Cask range, which instead only makes use of solely Sherry-seasoned European Oak casks.


The Macallan Distillery has a most unusual and very futuristic looking setup.


Flavour-wise, American Oak is typically sweeter and more mellow, but also less intense and punchy compared to European Oak - this is a Double Cask after all, so it bears some dissecting. This itself presents something rather unusual that Macallan has done - which is to have American Oak casks seasoned with Sherry for its use. Macallan's reputation is pretty much built upon the use of Sherry casks, which allowed them to stand out as a single malt for producing richer and deeper flavours in their whiskies - which is obviously very popular.

And so you'll find that pretty much all Macallan whiskies coming out from the distillery itself (so notwithstanding independent bottlers) typically make heavy use of Sherry casks.


A Sherry bodega in Jerez, Spain.


So going back to why the use of Sherry-seasoned American Oak casks are unusual - that's because Sherry comes specifically from an officially designated region in Spain, where local bodegas use local European wood typically sourced from Jerez, Spain, to mature their Sherry. In the old days, once the Sherry was bottled, the emptied out cask, having absorbed the rich flavours of the Sherry, could be passed along to whisky distilleries to age their whiskies and at the same time imbue it with these richer and sweeter flavours - which really gave rise to the immense popularity of Sherry cask aged whiskies.

And thus American Oak isn't really the practice when it comes to Sherry casks, and instead typically find themselves being used as Bourbon casks due to their proximity to America's most popular spirit - Bourbon. Similar to the Sherry bodegas, Bourbon distilleries would use the locally available American Oak to mature their Bourbon, and then pass it along to whisky distilleries from outside of the US.


Bourbon distillery in the US.


This all means that Macallan had sought to pass American Oak casks over to the Sherry bodegas for seasoning with Sherry before using it to mature their whiskies - which is a pretty unusual crossover!

With that, let's give this a taste! 

Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask, 40% ABV - Review



Tasting Notes

Colour: Amber

Aroma: Caramel, prunes, raisins, orange liqueur. It's quite aromatic and somewhat rich, with a slight booziness.

Taste: Alittle boozy. Honey, butterscotch, milk chocolate, raisins, prunes, orange zest, slight woodiness.

Finish: Honey, orange zest, more woodiness coming through with some more pronounced bitterness. Mid-length, light booziness.


My Thoughts

For some reason this reminded me of a Negroni - like the same sort of profile. The Sherry cask influences are front and center here, with a very distinctive orange note all throughout that gives the overall palette a nice contrast and keeps it somewhat interesting and refreshing. 

I found it rather classic of what a “Scotch” is - and for what it’s worth, it’s actually pretty well-balanced with a good expressiveness of its flavours. The only drawback is the noticeable booziness on the palate and finish that was alittle nippy. Now, obviously this is the entry level of the range, so if you're looking for something richer, with more depth and stronger flavours, less booziness, Macallan would gladly have you go up the range and try for the 15 Year Old Double Cask and up.

Overall, a decent expression from Macallan.