My buddy Kevin invited me to join him for a Macallan Scotch tasting at the Hotel Monaco. This grand (and free!) evening started off with copious amounts of the Macallan 12 year and yummy appetizers from Sazerac (the hotel restaurant.) I've never had lamb chops as finger food, but let me tell you, it's wonderful.
We were ushered into a ballroom where we each had four glasses of scotch in front of us that we couldn't touch until our charming Scottish host ran through his 1/2 hour Powerpoint presentation on why Macallan was the best scotch. Powerpoint aside, the presentation and the presenter were very informative and entertaining (lots of jokes about the Irish and British). (Did you know that Irish whiskey is distilled three times whereas Scottish whisky is distilled twice? Irish whiskey can be a bit smoother but scotch is has more interesting flavors as result. I'm enjoying a glass of Jameson Distillery Reserve - my favorite Irish whiskey - right now and can attest.)
He then described the whiskies in front of us and had us guess which was which. The first was a Speyside whisky from another distillery. Nice but a little uninteresting compared to the Macallan 12-year we'd been drinking.
The second was a kick-you-in-the-ass Macallan Cask Strength. Normally, whisky is cut from the full strength to make the 80 proof. This was the full 118 proof. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but it definitely grew on me as I came to terms with it. This was my favorite.
The last two had a very interesting story. They were replicas of the 1841 and 1861 Macallan products. Macallan bought a bottle of each at auction and then had their Master Distiller (what a job!) taste virtually all of their barrels to find ones that matched the 1841 and 1861. Macallan then made replica bottles and made these whiskys available. Unlike wine, whisky doesn't really age or change once it's in the bottle, so it's not that these tasted old, they just tasted different. It was interesting to see how the house style of Macallan had changed over the century.
It's too bad they didn't have any of the Macallan 60 year. Apparently, they only produced a few hundred bottles of this exceptional whisky. Each bottle goes for $39,000 (yes, that's US dollars). The borgata in Atlantic City is selling shots of this fine stuff for $4000 each. That's a bit spendy even for me.
Anyway, it was a very educational and enjoyable evening -- definitely a top notch event with no sales pressure (they weren't selling at the event, probably thanks to our friends at the BATF and Washington State Liquor Control Board). I'm a big Macallan fan now and feel a bit more knowledgable. I'll have to drink a lot more scotch, whiskey, and bourbon for comparison now...