Whisky is an intricate spirit with near-endless uses and thousands of options to choose from, and the best Macallan whisky will not disappoint. Though there there are many quality whiskies available at reasonable prices, sometimes it’s nice to indulge and open up a good bottle for yourself.
Some of the best expressions in this category of whisky come from The Macallan. The best Macallan whisky consists of expressions that have been expertly crafted, perfectly aged, and labored over by some of the best in the industry. Their entire range of whisky is impressive, but there are certainly a few that top the list.
The Best Macallan Whisky (With Pictures!)
1. The Macallan Double Cask 12-Year Old
Aged for 12 years in European and American oak casks that used to hold sherry, this Double Cask Single Malt Scotch has won several awards, including a Double Gold Medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a Gold Medal at the International Review of Spirits Tasting where it also earned a score of 95 points.
The distillery is housed on an impressive estate, covering 370 acres in total, of which 95 are dedicated to the production of their own barley which is used in a number of their expressions, including this one. Once distilled the whisky is cut down to about 16% and then sent for maturation. This cut results in a richer, fuller-bodied whisky.
They’ve worked hard to create a perfectly balanced profile in this expression. The aroma is rich and exciting with notes of oak spice and fruit cake – almost Christmasy! The palate is full of caramel, vanilla, and nuts with citrus on the finish.
2. The Macallan Estate Single Malt
The Macallan Estate Single Malt is a special expression made by the distillery to pay homage to the company’s deep and rich heritage. It’s crafted using barley that’s grown on a neighboring estate.
This particular expression is distilled annually over just a single week, and that’s it for the year! The rarity adds to the already incredible value of this premium quality whisky. The entire profile is inviting and complex, making for one of the best sipping experiences you’ve ever had – especially if you like warmer notes.
The nose offers wood spice and cinnamon on the first whiff, with citrus, dried fruit, caramel, lemons, and bananas coming in after. The palate is similar, with wood spice taking center stage, followed by notes of oak, figs, and raisins. Citrus returns on the finish, which is sweet and long.
3. The Macallan Rare Cask
The Macallan Rare Cask is a unique expression that is meant to showcase the incredible knowledge, expertise, and passion of the team at Macallan. It’s aged in only the finest sherry-seasoned oak casks. This gives it an intense and complex profile as well as unmatched smoothness.
When preparing to age this expression, the team is very selective. They only choose the best casks they can find, using their knowledge and experience to their advantage in this part of the process as well. The better the casks, the better flavor result they’ll get.
On the nose, you’ll find intense notes of vanilla and raisins. The palate is even richer with raisins which lead into notes of vanilla, lemon, apples, and oranges. The finish is long and silky smooth.
The Macallan offers rare cask releases most years, which are always smooth, complex, and exquisite whiskies. That said, the nuances of the expression vary with each release, so you’re always getting a new experience.
4. The Macallan 12-Year-Old Sherry Oak Single Malt
The Macallan 12-Year-Old Sherry Oak Single Malt is part of The Macallan’s range of oak expressions. This one is aged in seasoned oak casks that come from Jerez. It’s on the lower end of the range in terms of age and price, making it more accessible to those who want a delicious premium whisky within a more moderate budget, without sacrificing the quality that can be expected from The Macallan.
Keep this expression as a staple in your home bar and always have it on hand when you want to sip some whisky with friends or relax after dinner. The profile on this expression is exquisite and classic oak with wonderful depth and complexity.
The nose is warm and rich with the perfect touch of vanilla. The palate comes in smooth and balanced with a medium body and delightful notes of fruit, oak, and spice. The finish is long with dried fruit, oak, and spice lingering.
5. The Macallan 18-Year-Old Sherry Oak Single Malt
The Macallan 18-Year-Old Sherry Oak Single Malt is a continuation of the previously mentioned 12-year expression, with a similar but more advanced profile. Made with only the finest ingredients and a deliberate, meticulous distilling process, the 18 years it spends in seasoned Sherry oak casks is the final step to an arguably perfect bottle of single malt Scotch whisky. The depth and complexity in this expression is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, not often replicated elsewhere.
The aroma offers notes of ginger, raisins, and toasted oak. This combination creates an amazing harmony of sweet, warm, and spicy on the nose. On the palate, you’ve got a combination of dried fruits, citrus, vanilla, and sweet toffee. The finish is full and lingering, with distinct smoky notes.
The 2020 release of this whisky was awarded an impressive 92 points from the Wine Enthusiast and was expression is considered by many to be one of the best single malt Scotches in the world. While subsequent releases haven’t experienced the same level of acclaim, they’re all exceptional in their own right.
6. The Macallan M Single Malt Scotch
Finally, we have a truly remarkable expression. The Macallan M Single Malt Scotch Whisky is promoted as the ultimate representation of The Macallan’s craftsmanship – and it’s easy to see why.
Like many expressions from The Macallan, this whisky relies on sherry-seasoned oak flasks. However, the standout feature is that the whisky relies on a combination of seven distinct Macallan casks. These casks were all carefully selected by Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker to reflect the best that The Macallan has to offer.
The whisky itself has a deep color and complex flavor profile. The aroma opens with notes of orange zest, dried fruit, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The palate continues with the spice-based theme, with additional notes of wood and smoke. Finally, the finish includes tobacco notes that truly set the whisky apart.
The Macallan History
The Macallan didn’t come to produce some of the best whisky in the industry by chance or accident. In addition to decades of experience and built-up knowledge, there are several things they do differently in order to produce their phenomenal line of whiskies.
The distillery is situated on an estate that’s been around for more than 300 years. The distillery itself was founded in 1824, one of the very first distilleries to be legally licensed in Scotland. In the beginning, founder Alexander Reid would ferment and distill his grains himself and often drink it right from the still or sell it to travelers. This was especially common during the winter when a few sips of whisky was a popular way to warm up a little. Many farmers would distill their excess grains and make a little extra money this way.
Today, they still produce much of their own barley on the dedicated 95 acres, with each acre producing enough barley for about 1,800 bottles per harvest. This is impressive, but still not enough.
To supplement their needs, they contract with local farmers, only purchasing barley that is high in starch and low in nitrogen. This helps give them the rich, oily whisky they’re looking for. Also contributing to this goal are the “curiously” small stills they use. They may be small but the pure, smooth, and unique output is worth it.
The distillery focuses heavily on the quality of their casks as they are responsible for much of the whisky’s quality, from taste to color. Many whiskies have something added to enhance their color, but The Macallan doesn’t believe in such a thing. Their whiskies get their color entirely from the wood they age in, which is one of the many reasons they are so selective with their casks.
Because wood is natural, every tree is going to be different. This is yet another area where the expertise of the distillers comes in, as they carefully select casks to ensure that the color is as consistent as possible from bottle to bottle.
Reid named the company The Macallan after an infamous old church that was unfortunately destroyed by a fire in the 15th century. The legacy certainly lives on with the success The Macallan has experienced. From expert practices, hand-selected casks, and vigilant attention to detail, The Macallan has managed to produce some of the best whisky in the world. There’s variety in taste, aroma, and age to give everyone something they’ll love.
What Does The Macallan Whisky Cost?
The price range for Macallan whisky varies dramatically, depending on the specific expression and how long it has been aged. Your location and the competition in the local area may play a role as well.
Still, there are some patterns we can talk about. In particular, some of the least expensive options are the 12-year-old expressions, which often come in at between $80 and $100 per bottle. In contrast, an 18-year-old expression can be around $350, while you’re looking at more than $500 for a 21-year-old expression.
There are also some incredibly expensive bottles in the mix. Some of these cost more than $10,000 for a single bottle and a few even cross the $30,000 mark. The single most expensive bottle of Macallan ever sold was for $1.9 million, breaking the previous world record of $1.2 million (which was also held by Macallan).
Is Macallan Whisky Worth The Price?
Many people say yes. While Macallan whisky can be expensive, it is also delicious and smooth, with a wealth of flavor nuances.
However, Macallan is also heavily marketed and the company often focuses on glitz and glamor above the whisky itself. This focus on marketing may even be partly why Macallan expressions are so damn expensive. You’ll often be able to find similar or better whisky at the same price point.
As with everything else about whisky, personal preference plays a huge role. If you love the taste of Macallan, then the expressions could easily be worth every cent. But, if you’re so-so, you may want to experiment with other brands. After all, there’s a huge world of whisky out there.