Jan 122014
 

themacallanlogo

A nifty, but now sadly obsolete, run of Macallan that came out some time around the turn of the millenium, I think.  The Travel Series was launched as an attempt to replicate the style of vintage Macallan from several decades in the first half of the twentieth century.

The whisky is a novelty, to be sure, but it’s also a neat little insight into the blender’s art.  Man…what skill to be able to recreate these whiskies from age old samples, right?  Ahhhh…but there’s the rub.  Are they accurate recreations?  Well…not having access to those glorious old Macallans from the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s or ’50s, who am I to say whether or not this is a true representation of the style?

At the end of the day though, it doesn’t really matter, because suspension of disbelief is made easier by the fact that these releases retailed for less than $35 a bottle locally.  For that sort of financial investment the free range of imagination will be all I use in the sating of curiosity.  And I’ll consider that well and truly paid for at less than $150 all in for the full suite of releases.  In short…just have fun with it.

While equally lauded (Michael Jackson) and lambasted (Serge Valentin), I’ll happily take the middle road when it comes to throwing marks against these malts.  These are good whiskies.  No, they’re not great by any means, but they are unique…they are well-made…and they are fun as hell.  Think of it like a trip down memory lane…one which you’ve never traveled before.  These malts really do set the imagination to run.  I Love ’em for that if nothing more.

A good mate of mine, J Wheelock, introduced me to these Macallans a few years back when he worked for the brand (Edrington, that is).  For that…and for much, much more…this dram’s for you, J.  Slainte!

T2

Macallan Travel Series – ‘Twenties’

40% abv     500 ml bottle

Score:  86.5/100

Nose:  Somewhat fruitier than expected.  A little bit of apple and peach.  Shortbread.  Tobacco.  Peach is a theme throughout.  Reminds a little of a ’77 Glenisla I’ve tried.  Cherry syrup.  Cadbury milk chocolate.  Nice depth of spice.  Some tart red berry now.  A touch of maple.

Palate:  Immediate disappointment at the thinness of mouthfeel.  Fruity and sweet at first, but dries rather quickly.  Some crabapple.  Slightly weedy floral notes.  Spiced dough.  A bit of very mild peat and smoke at about the three quarter point.

Thoughts:  Good noser.  Not so pleasing on the palate unfortunately.  The flavours are ok, but it’s a featherweight.  Especially as I believe the old style malts to have a bit more heft than this.

T3

Macallan Travel Series – ‘Thirties’

40% abv     500 ml bottle

Score:  86/100

Nose:  Still fruity, much like the ‘Twenties’, but a bit more dry spice now.  A hint of Old Dutch Barbecue Potato Chips (crisps, if you’re UK-centric).  More peat arriving now by this decade.  Spicy figgy notes.  Tobacco, leather and oil.

Palate:  Tobacco.  Chocolate with a dollop of caramel.  Coffee.  Dried fruits.  Chocolate fudge now.  Quite spicy.  Threads of deep dark fruits courtesy of the sherry influence.  Smoked apple skins.  Now a little oakiness.

Thoughts:  Again…better nose than palate.  Sadly, as thin as the average head of hair in a nursing home.

T5

Macallan Travel Series – ‘Forties’

40% abv     500 ml bottle

Score:  88.5/100

Nose:  Peppery peat.  A bit more earthy and smoky now that we’ve hit the ‘Forties’.  Cookie dough.  Quite dry, and almost ashy.  Mincemeat and tobacco.  Slightly barn-ish (maybe horse blanket).  Maybe…maybe…smoked meat of some sort.  Toffee or caramel fudge.  Now there’s more smoke building.

Palate:  Very nice.  Better palate than the first couple, but still anemic.  Like caramel apples for adults.  Slightly peppery and bearing more woody notes now.  A touch of peat and smoke.  Ok…more than a touch.  Kinda tarry.  Arrives with fruits but turns to black coal smoke.

Thoughts:  Not necessarily the most balanced of the quartet, but maybe the most fun.  Some really neat nuances here.  Much more ‘old school’ in character.

T6

Macallan Travel Series – ‘Fifties’

40% abv     500 ml bottle

Score:  88/100

Nose:  A touch of peat and moist tobacco.  Cinnamon, cocoa and vanilla.  A touch of floral notes.  Chewy sweet sherry notes.  A little bit of dust and dunnage warehouse.  Smoked hay.  Yep…still some peat here.  Creamier, fruitier, more depth and more developed than the others.

Palate:  Nice bold delivery.  Feels thicker and more substantial than the others.  A more traditionally gooey sherried Macallan with a heft of very dry cinnamon and clove.  Good long finish with all the right notes lingering.

Thoughts:  Neck and neck with the ‘Forties’ as best of the bunch.  More palatable for the masses too, I’d argue, and closer to the Macallan most folk would now know.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photos:  Curt

 

 Posted by at 9:40 pm

  One Response to “Macallan Travel Series”

  1. Interesting “compare and contrast” approach to the reviews, and in dealing with the series as a whole.

    Macallan always does like to look to the past to justify its current prestige, and the further back it goes with this replica approach, the more generally safe the approach is – who’s to really know the difference? Macallan itself didn’t know when it came to the mid-1800’s replica series (until scientific analysis proved the whisky it was based on couldn’t possibly be older than the era of atomic testing, much less back into the 1800s). As you say, “think of it like a trip down memory lane…one which you’ve never traveled before” – a lot of people were taken down the garden path on that series (many at auction prices), and Macallan was sorry, but no refunds. Cheers!

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