very often do you get the chance to drink Scotch whisky old enough to
have gone to Woodstock. That occasion will soon exist as The Macallan 60
Years Old Single Malt, the latest edition of the company’s Lalique Six
Pillars Collection program, is set to be released December 1.
Of course, this whisky was fast asleep in Scotland when Jimi Hendrix was waking up a nation of hippies with “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a farm in upstate New York. And besides, today’s opportunity is somewhat hypothetical as a miniscule demographic will actually taste this hyper-aged Speyside whisky. Only 400 bottles are available worldwide, with but 72 to be sold in the United States. And if you are lucky enough to find one, be prepared to shell out $20,000 for the privilege.
The Lalique Six Pillars Collection celebrates different aspects of the process of making Macallan and is now in its fourth permutation: Curiously Small Stills. The name refers to the diminutive copper stills, which are the smallest in the Speyside whisky-making region in Scotland. Smaller stills cause the spirit to have more interaction with the copper as it passes through. As a result such spirit makes a good candidate for long aging, which this particular expression has obviously enjoyed.
The three previous Pillar releases were Natural Colour, Finest Cut and Exceptional Oak Casks. The remaining pillars, as yet unfeatured, are Spiritual Home and Peerless Spirit.
The Curiously Small Stills edition was created from five Sherry butts—large casks, each with a capacity of 126 gallons—made from a mix of Spanish and American oak. (Scotch whisky is far more commonly aged in barrels of 31.5-gallon capacity.) The casks were filled on November 9 and 10, 1950 and dumped earlier this year. Therefore, the whisky harks to the pre-1960-era Macallan, which was strongly peated compared with today’s version, which has almost none.
The project was undertaken with the French crystal house Lalique. The crystal decanter, with copper around the stopper, uses many design elements drawn from the Macallan stills, including their size, shape and rivets. It also comes in a lacquered presentation box.
The whisky itself is a delight with a veritable montage of flavors and an extremely long finish, which makes the expense a little more justifiable by prolonging the experience by about an hour.
The Macallan 60 Years Old Single Malt (53.2 percent alcohol by volume, or 106.4 proof, $20,000)
APPEARANCE: Dark amber, slight greenish copper, strong, slow legs.
NOSE: Very complex aroma characteristics that start with peat and toast, move to Sherry, currants, hard candy and honey and end with baseball glove leather, hard wood and a bit of olive oil.
PALATE: It’s even more of a flavor savory in the mouth. The first sensation is savory toast before it almost immediately shifts course to become sweet with tropical fruits, mango, tangerine and citrus. Mellowing a bit, the whisky offers up Christmas pudding, pie crust, graham cracker and spice combo led by cinnamon.
FINISH: Peat comes on in the finish with more toast and chewy nougat flavor. But wait there’s more. Fruit returns in waves that undulate and remind you long after you drank it that you’ve had an astonishing whisky experience.
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