Christopher R. King

In My Words

24 Oct

A Sensory Experience that Goes Beyond Taste

October 24, 2017

When I explore and write about success and luxury, I’m always looking for brands, products, and locations that are the best in the world. The Macallan Distillery’s 62 year old and 65 year old single malts in exquisite Lalique crystal decanters are definitely in that category. Without question, they represent the pinnacle of Scotch distilling achievement.

Like the finest wines or most desirable cigars, the best single malt Scotch whiskies are a sensory experience that goes far beyond taste to smell, touch, and even sight. Scotch connoisseurs the world over know and respect The Macallan, and for good reason. Its 62 year old and 65 year old single malts are some of the oldest bottlings you’ll find.

Known and loved for its sherry influence, The Macallan uses the finest Spanish Oloroso sherry casks made from European oak and some American oak. While they now offer Fine Oak and Double Cask expressions, their traditional sherry-cask-aged bottlings remain the most popular.

To say The Macallan is iconic is an understatement. Agent 007 sipped 50 year old Macallan with his nemesis in the 2012 film, Skyfall. Macallan stills adorn the Bank of Scotland’s £10 banknote. The Macallan 64 in 2010 sold at Sotheby’s New York for a record-breaking $460,000, and four years later, a bottle of The Macallan M fetched $628,205 at a Hong Kong auction. This isn’t just a major player in the world of extraordinary single malts—The Macallan is the player.

Founded in 1824 as one of Scotland’s first legally licensed distilleries, The Macallan was born when farmer Alexander Reid leased eight acres from the Earl of Seafield, and set on the path of world-class distilling when it was bought seven decades later by Roderick Kemp. Today, The Macallan Distillery has surpassed Glenfiddich to become the world’s largest single malt Scotch producer, second only to Glenlivet.

The Macallan Distillery’s reputation has been helped by the collaboration with Lalique to release six of its oldest and rarest whiskies in custom decanters. Each decanter was designed and created to capture the essence of one of the distillery’s Six Pillars. The first was a 50 year old, followed by expressions aged for 55, 57, 60, 62 and 65 years.

The decanter for the 62 pays tribute to the centuries-old Easter Elchies House, known as Macallan’s spiritual home. The 65’s decanter, capturing Macallan’s Peerless Spirit, reminds me of a brilliant tiger’s eye.

When nosing the 62, I’m always struck by how gentle it is for 53-percent alcohol—smooth on both the nose and palate. The sherry cask imparts a sweetness that carries notes of rich toffee and raisins. As I inhale deeper, I find apple and blood orange followed by cinnamon, ginger, and dark chocolate. The finish is long and heavy, which I love, given the amazing aromas and flavors it imparts. This is an incredibly complex whisky that pairs beautifully with a fine cigar.

The 65 is an intense and true walnut color. I say “true” as the distillery adds no caramel coloring, something Scotch whisky purists relish. On the nose, balanced yet powerful aromas of honey, cinnamon and dates come forward. I catch the cinnamon and Madagascan vanilla swirling in the glass as I breathe in—and I’m not even halfway through this experience.

The Macallan 62 & Macallan 65

The smoothness is no surprise from a Macallan of this age. What is a surprise is the hint of peat, which was once used for drying on the malting floor. Resting for decades in a sherry cask softens the peat, so I only pick up a slightly smoky taste. The finish is rich and long, ending with notes of dark chocolate and, again, delicious honey.

There really are no other whiskies in the world that compare to The Macallan 62 or The Macallan 65. I revel in these amazing, rare single malts after a long day of going over designs. I have them at £10 in Beverly Hills, where they’re served in Lalique glasses. I especially enjoy my Macallan 65 while having a Partagas Habana No. 2—it’s a perfect pairing.

Some say whiskies aged beyond 25 years lose flavor from too much time in the cask. I believe this misses the reality of the cask aging process. Each year, day, hour, minute, and moment in the cask changes the whisky. Some changes are powerful, others subtle. These two fine single malts rested in casks for more than six decades, so you’ll see, smell, taste, and feel every one of those changes.

Distilling, aging, and bottling fine single malt Scotch whisky is a true art. Take my word as a connoisseur: the experience of these expressions goes far beyond the liquid itself.

Christopher R. King enjoying the Macallan 62 & Macallan 65