Macallan Classic Cut – Violent Elegance

Liver with fava beans and a good chianti, or a good Amarone, if you prefer the literary version to the film.  Classical literature, especially Dante’s Divine Comedy, the Goldberg variations of Johann Sebastian Bach, the beautiful city of Florence – all seem like the choices of an extraordinarily cultured and sophisticated person.  In fact, they are.

Incredibly, these are also the interests of one of the most famous fictional villains.  The psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, who appears in films like Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs, would almost be the perfect gentleman if it weren’t for one minor detail, or rather taste, which isn’t at all sophisticated.  Hannibal likes to eat people.

By the way, therein lies the success of his character, in this Dog’s opinion – in the balance between erudition and wild, brutal violence, between politeness and aggressiveness.  Hannibal is Jekyll and Hyde, with the bonus of being a cannibal.  He embodies seemingly contrasting characteristics, which, despite this, complement each other beautifully.


Ok, ok… “beautifully” isn’t the best word.

If Lecter was a whisky, he would definitely be The Macallan Classic Cut.  A special edition by the distillery, which brings its traditional elegance and sophistication, but with something extra.  This isn’t human flesh (which is a relief) – it’s the 58% ABV, which is the villainous part of the release and of course just what makes it fascinating.

O Macallan Classic Cut is the first in a series of distillery launches, which it says is aimed at “revealing (its) unique character and eternal spirit.”  Its visual identity – the white label with the red band – pays homage to one of the distillery’s highly discontinued expressions, highly sought after by collectors: The Macallan Cask Strength, another of the distillery’s whiskies that has a healthy alcohol content.

According to The Macallan “exclusively matured in exceptional American and European oak sherry casks from Jerez, Spain and bottled to show perfectly its unique profile and taste, this limited release offers a special and memorable view of The Macallan.”  This is a description that even Lecter would find interesting.

Even more interesting than what is described, is what is not.  There is a curious silence (not of the lambs) about the expression “cask strength”, which would imply a whisky bottled directly from the barrel, without being diluted.  The words are not used anywhere on the label or marketing material related to The Macallan Classic Cut, which would be expected for a bottled whisky above 50%.  The omission would indicate dilution with water – however small.

Some have commented that The Macallan did this precisely to avoid any form of comparison with The Macallan Cask Strength that the distillery discontinued a good few years ago.  However, you don’t have to be Clarice Starling to see the argument doesn’t hold.  The red and white label of the Classic Cut makes a direct reference – almost a tribute – to Cask Strength.

Any similarity is (no) mere coincidence (source: Winesearcher).

Be that as it may, Macallan Classic Cut is a sensorial delight.  There is the traditional oily nature of The Macallan, but it is more pronounced, as well as its fruity and vinous profile with ginger, wood and marzipan.  Despite the high content, the alcohol is well integrated and comes out as a certain dry spiciness in the finish.

Just like Hannibal Lecter, The Macallan Classic Cut has always been hunted down, since its launch.  This makes finding a bottle to buy – even in international shops – almost impossible.  However, if you are lucky enough to find one, be sure to try it.  Or you could patiently wait for the next release as a certain fictional killer would say “all good things to those who wait.”


Type: Single Malt with no age statement

Distillery: Macallan

Region: Speyside

ABV: 58.4%

Tasting Notes:

Aroma: citric, fruity, with ginger and vanilla.

Flavour:  Fruity, raisins, tobacco.  A long finish with a fortified wine. Dry and spicy.

With water: Fruit and wine taste is emphasised and the whisky is sweeter and less spicy.


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