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About this Blog

Welcome to Po'Nutrition Fax! This blog is about alcohol - it has nothing to do with health or wellness, and the only relationship between this and Edgar Allen Poe is that he was an alcoholic.

I used to work in a liquor store and developed a taste for all different types of booze. As my collection grew, I felt the need to share my knowledge of, interest in, and experiences with my purchases - from the standards (e.g. whisk(e)y, gin) to the less-than-standard (e.g. kirschwasser, raki). You'll also find a lot on beer (another love of mine).

This is not about how much I can drink nor do I promote over-excess of alcohol. As with most blogs, there is some self-reflection included with most of the reviews. The point is to encourage everyone to reflect on what they drink.

Leave comments or ask questions! Also, "follow" me if you like what you read - I am not making money from this blog but if I see more interest in this and hear some feedback, it will encourage me to write more.

Cheers!
Mike

Friday, December 16, 2011

Macallan 15-Year Port Finish - Murray McDavid


We all know the big names in single malt scotch: Macallan, Laphroaig, Talisker (just to name a few). Since we all know the name, we have to pay for that too. Granted, when you want the quality associated with these names then you should pay a "brand premium" for it; but as I've said before, this is only their standard you pay for and nothing more. However, there is a good way to get around this by making sure you end up paying more for the quality than the name and, in a sense, exceeding this standard: buying independently bottled scotch.

The independent scotch bottler will buy casks of scotch from a distillery and since these casks are now theirs, they can do whatever they want with them; they are no longer under the control of the distillery. Fortunately, these independent bottlers love scotch - or know to market their product to people who love scotch. Therefore, some won't add caramel coloring, some won't "chill filter" (which removes "impurities" that make the scotch cloudy when water or ice is added), some will experiment with the aging process - whatever they decide to do they can at least still claim that the heart of the final product comes from a particular distillery. The one I currently own is from Murray McDavid and is a 15-year Macallan aged in used bourbon barrels and finished in Port barrels/pipes.

Most scotches are aged in old bourbon barrels. Bourbon has to be aged in "new oak" barrels, so once a barrel is made and used to age bourbon, that barrel can never be used to age bourbon again... however there are plenty of other spirits that can be aged in it. However Macallan is known, as are most Speyside scotches, to be aged in old sherry barrels/butts. This sherry influence gives a sweeter quality to these particular single malts. So the Port-finish intrigued me and I decided to pick this up. It was a 15-year Macallan too, bottled at Bruichladdich, that had no "colouring" added and was not chill-filtered. These factors inflated the price beyond the "normal" 15-year Macallan price but I knew I was paying mostly for quality.

Unfortunately, I don't like the Port finish on this scotch too much. Not that this is a bad scotch but the finish has a strange grape-candy, chocolate quality that does not mix very well with the smokey flavor inherent to scotch. This one was kind of a bust.

I wish I could've been more convincing here that independent scotch bottlers are a great choice when it comes to buying scotch. Yet as disappointing as this one was, I have had fantastic success otherwise from independently bottle scotch. The 15-Year Sherry-Aged, Barrel-Proof Highland Park from Mackillops still stands to this day as one of the best scotches I've ever had. It is important to keep in mind you need to be very knowledgeable of scotch if you choose to go the independent route because you'll need to be able to find these big names at discounted prices - or know what distinguishes this independent bottling from what normally comes from the distillery. But you may just want to try going into this whole experience "blind" just to experiment. Whatever route you choose just know that while these independent bottlers may try a few different things, they will at least try to give you the scotch in it's "purest" form - straight out of the barrel (with only a splash of water added).

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