The Macallan Edition No. 1 Tasting Notes

Photo Courtesy of Gregg Albert

Photo Courtesy of Gregg Albert

The Macallan is one of the most celebrated distilleries in all of Scotland and one I’ve visited before in the past. It’s a great tradition and most scotch aficionados make it a point to try their signature bottle, the 18yo.

In more recent times, Macallan has been leading the way in non-age statement whisky. If you go through any duty free store, you won’t find any Macallan with an age statement. They’re all NAS in travel retail.

Regardless of what you think about the general move in that direction (I am not a snob about age but I think something does get lost when nothing has an age statement), you can’t argue that distilleries still have to put out a good product. You may be swayed by the label on the bottle but you won’t be tricked by the dram inside (hopefully!).

Macallan’s latest entrant into the NAS whisky market is the Macallan Edition No. 1. 48% ABV and priced at around $100, Macallan says it’s aged in 8 different styles of European and American oak casks, hand picked by Macallan Master Whisky Maker Bob Dalgarno.

I didn’t try it but one of our intrepid Facebook members did, Gregg Albert, and this is what he shared with us:

  • Nose: Orange peel, vanilla, and a sweetness that reminded me of funnel cakes at the Fair a few days ago.
  • Palate: Full of spice and rich fruit, toffee. Hits with a punch.
  • Finish: Spiced! lingering and smooth.

He added – “This stuff is complex and changes with every sip. It’s going to the top of my list…” He has Edition No.2 also, which may make it into a future tasting note on the site (I hope!).

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Usquaebach Reserve Premium Blended Scotch Whisky Review

Last year, I tried a bottle of scotch that I’d never heard of before — Usquaebach.

For us non-native speakers of Gaelic, the word looks like a lot of other scotch whisky names. But it’s a variant of uisge beatha, the Gaelic words meaning “water of life.” The name Usquaebach was commemorated by Robert Burns in a poem, titled Tam O’Shanter (he uses the line “Wi’ usquabae, we’ll face the devil!” – with the water of life, we face the devil!).

usquaebach-flagonWith that name origin in mind, what is Usquaebach? It’s is a blended scotch whisky and the product is over 225 years old. To prove it, they still sell some of it in an old timey flagon. And for those who are audibly curious, it’s pronounced “oos-ke-bah,” which I probably would’ve gotten on the sixtieth try!

43% abv, the bottle I tried (sent by their PR company) didn’t come in flagon but a regular bottle. Shucks. :)

Tasting Notes:

  • Nose: A younger blend with bits of honey, sugar, and citrus. Not much oak on the nose and some spice, like the soft warmth of ginger and some vanilla. It has a little bit of everything except iodine and smokiness but not a lot of anything.
  • Palate: Toasted malt with a sweetness and vanilla. A little pepper spice to it. Light in the mouth, not much heft to it.
  • Finish: Medium with light caramel, chocolatey finish and a bit of pop with the pepper.

It was a tasty whisky and they state it has a blend of 10-18 year old whiskies, which I believe. At a price of $43, I wouldn’t rush out and get some (the value proposition isn’t there) but it’s a nice middle of the road (nose/palate-wise) that doesn’t disappoint.

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How to Wash Out and Clean a Decanter

Decanters are beautiful.

They can also get dirty.

Anytime you have glassware that has a narrow neck and a wide bottom, it be tricky to clean because you can’t get your standard brush in there. If you have some gunk in your decanter, whether from dried whiskey or something else, swishing it with hot water and soap (after soaking) might not do the job.

How do you up your cleaning game? How do you get some scrubbing action in the decanter through the narrow neck?

Try a different cleaning solution. If soap and hot water isn’t working, you can try a 50-50 mixture of white distilled vinegar and water. This is a time tested cleaning solution that you can use anywhere. Vinegar is a fantastic cleaning agent and easy to rinse out. If that’s not working, you can also try baking soda and water because it acts as a mild abrasive.

Use a scrubbing agent. By scrubbing agent, I am referring to something that will fit through the narrow neck and act as your brush. The best ones to use are rice, salt, and crushed ice. Some places have suggested ball bearings and sand, but I don’t recommend those because they can (thought unlikely) scratch your decanter.

As a last resort, buy a bottle brush. These are inexpensive and they will fit into the decanter so you can scrub any nooks and crannies that defy other methods.

Once all the residue is gone, put in a small amount of bleach and let it sit for 10-15 minutes to sanitize it. Then rinse out your brand new decanter and air dry.

That’s it! Dirty decanter is now clean!

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!Despite the reports of my disappearance (Thanks Tina! :)), I have not disappeared. I’ve just been home with two kids for the last ten days with the Christmas break and then the New Year… it’s left little time for writing about scotch but plenty of time enjoying it after the kiddos have gone to bed.

Over the break, I had a chance to meet up with old friends and drink our fair share of whisky.

We rented a vacation house in Deep Creek, Maryland, for four days with about ~8 families and had a blast. During that time, my friend introduced me to High West Whiskey, a product out of Park City, Utah. I’ve never been to Utah but he explained the convoluted alcohol laws there, as a result of the Mormon influence, and how it resulted in the most curious of pub experiences.

For example, you can’t have two drinks of the same type. So you can have a shot of liquor and a beer but you cannot have two beers. And a beer has to be under 4% or it’s considered liquor. And before a bartender can mix your drink, they have to go into a separate place and behind a “Zion curtain.” And no liquor before you order food. It’s wild… and by wild I mean convoluted.

But! High West Whisky was pretty good. To be honest, nothing sticks out as memorable and I think I know why… it’s from an Indiana factory. This might upset some folks, but it doesn’t bother me. How do you expect a new company to survive aging their own stuff for three years and selling nothing? If they do this in year 5, then we have a problem.

I brought my own bottle share and I went with something a little off the wall. We stopped by the Costco in Washington D.C. and, among other things, I picked up a bottle of Kirkland brand Bourbon, aged 7 years. Many many years ago, I actually tried a Kirkland branded Scotch, but the label said it was from The Macallan distillery. That was a safe bet, I wish I bought more.

This time, the Kirkland branded bourbon had no other distillery’s name on it (it does mention Clear Springs Distillery, which is owned by Buffalo Trace). It was strictly a blend of a variety of bourbon producers. I was curious what my money got me. It was nice, sweet as expected, had a little more bite than the High West, and seemed like a decent value.

The last bottle we had were a class above – Balvenie Triple Cask 16yo. I bought my own in duty free coming back from the UK last year and was still in love. It tasted smoother than a baby’s butt compared to the bourbons (an unfair comparison). Hints of vanilla, fruits and toffee with a gentle caress of a finish that leaves you wanting to take another sip.

Bourbons are deliciously sweet but this trip was a reminder I do love a good scotch.

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A tasty refreshing punch: Pepperdier Christmas Punch Cocktail

Nothing beats a nice whiskey neat.

But, I generally tend to enjoy those when I’m at home. When I’m out and about, I feel like a whisky neat might just be a little too much and a little too easy to overindulge outside the comforts of our home.

So lately I’ve been trying some cocktails. One fun one I’ve discovered is the Moscow Mule, a nice refreshing mix of vodka, ginger beer, and lime.

Here’s another one that has piqued my interest because it involves Scotch whisky, is a fun punch, and a mixture of flavors that sound like they’re really really good. This recipe comes courtesy of a public relations firm that represents Auchentoshan.

Photo by Gabi Porter

Photo by Gabi Porter

Pepperdier Christmas Punch
By Masahiro Urushido, New York Bartender (serves 8 – 10)

  • 6 oz. Auchentoshan American Oak Single Malt Scotch Whisky (infused with raisins)
  • 8 oz. Scottish Breakfast Tea
  • 6 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 4 oz. Dubonnet Rouge Aperitif
  • 2 oz. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Lejay Creme de Cassis
  • 3 Tbsp Oleo Saccharum
  • Sparkling Wine
  • Garnish: Rosemary + Cranberries + Orange Slices + Bay Leaves

Mix all ingredients except sparkling wine in a punch bowl. Garnish with rosemary, cranberries, orange slices and bay leaves. Top with sparkling wine.

If you’re curious who Masahiro Urushido is – he was bartender at NoMad Hotel in New York and was named Chivas Regal’s first ever Chivas Master back in 2014. He can now be found at The Daily and Saxon + Parole, according to his Facebook profile.

If you make it, let me know how it is!

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