Taste: The Macallan Amber 1824 Series

Amber forms part of the recent No Age Statement (NAS) range from The Macallan known as the 1824 series, which for the unaware means this range of whiskies won’t tell you anything about how long they have been maturing in the cask. This can be a double edged sword as in my experience for every worthwhile NAS release there are five that are worth avoiding; not a great ratio in this age of production efficiency and consistency.
The Macallan pride themselves on the quality of their casks and in general restrict themselves to using the cask just once unless it is an extremely good example. In theory this means more flavours are introduced into the maturing spirit in that concentrated period. Thereby using this logic a younger Macallan will offer more than offer distilleries of the same age.
On the tour I took at the distillery, I was informed that generally the ages of the whiskies going into this NAS range can start at 6-7 years. That does sound good doesn’t it? That’s part of the problem with NAS is the air of secrecy that surrounds each release becoming a witch’s brew with rumours and speculation that as a consumer should be cleared up by clear and informative labelling.
It is great chat to hear a 29 year old cask going into the vatting for a NAS release but I suspect that was more likely to be the ultra-expensive Ruby NAS version rather than Amber, which is pitched more at the beginner level. Given that many of these NAS releases can retail at the same price level as many single malts or in some cases way beyond, it is a minefield for the whisky drinker. Many of these linger in travel retail as exclusives waiting to snare unsuspecting travellers but we are seeing more NAS in mainstream channels with fancier packaging and rising price tags.
This Macallan range was influenced by the desire to create a colour coordinated range that signified the colour of the spirit. I like to think of it as the ideal companion to the iphone generation; many of whom are obsessed with design and prestige rather than practicality. Amber is never the most inspiring of colours often a middle phase between a raging red and the full on green you see on UK traffic lights.
Time for my tasting notes:
Distillery: The Macallan
Age: No Age Statement
Strength: 40%
Additional: no colouring but I’d expect chill filtration has taken place
Cask: A combination of oak and sherry casks
Price: this does seem to vary around £40-£45
Colour: Possibly amber but more hay with a surprising hint of rose
Aroma: Oranges, an oaky note, crushed nuts mainly peanuts and a sweetness of almond.
Taste:  The oranges carry through to the palate as does that oaky woody note. Followed by a thump of honey and vanilla sweetness before a very watery and lacking finish.  
If this retailed at half the price I’d be a little more forgiving but pitched around £40 your expectations on raised and the actual experience is disappointing. In reality Amber is an oddity, a NAS created I feel for those starting out in whisky particularly in foreign markets. It has a watery refreshing experience that would go well as a mixer or in a hot climate. For those of us in Scotland or wanting a little more oomph from their whisky this isn’t anywhere near an acceptable benchmark.

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