I once read an article about how automakers choose the names of their cars. It’s very interesting. and also complicated. What seems natural is actually a complex creative process. First, companies consult their marketing departments to determine words that reflect the vehicle’s profile. Literally hundreds of ideas are conceived.
Then, specialists from different areas choose the names based on the most different criteria. For example, it cannot be a registered trademark of another company. It can’t be slang, it can’t be a curse word in another language and it has to sound good. This all means that behind every Ford Pinto (the vulgar for “penis”), Kia Besta (even more vulgar for “stupid”), Mazda Laputa (vulgar for “prostitute”), Lancia Marica (ah, forget about explaining this one…) and Fiat Punto there is a team of dozens of people who failed miserably.
Recently, one of the most famous single malt brands in the world took the same risk. The Macallan, when launching its Quest collection. The old 1824 line was replaced by one of products with, shall we say, more creative names – Quest, Lumina, Terra and Enigma. And that’s okay, because the names sound good and, in a way, convey the sense of sophistication that the brand intends to. However – and in my simple opinion – there is a small problem. As in the case of Fiat Linea, Hyundai Azera and Honda Accord, the names mean nothing. After all, is light less or more sophisticated than earth and enigma?
Luckily, The Macallan compensated by renaming some of their lines with very concrete names. Like, for example, Fine Oak – which was renamed Triple Cask. And the other lines with minimal maturation stamped on the label, too. Sherry Oak, Double Cask and Triple Cask, accompanied by the minimum age declaration. Everything (almost) that the consumer wants to know is already stated there, in the name – without running the risk of idiomatic puns or too much abstraction. As is the case of Macallan Triple Cask 15 years, subject of this test.
According to The Macallan “Matured in a unique and complex combination of casks, the Macallan Triple Cask Matured range offers an extraordinarily smooth and delicate yet complex character, extracted from oak casks seasoned with European and American sherry and former American oak casks . -bourbon. Formerly known as The Macallan Fine Oak, the line offers the same whisky with a new name and a new bottle; reflecting the quality of our whiskies and revealing the skills and skill of the Macallan Masters.”
At this point, you might have already intuited a thing or two about the Macallan Triple Cask 15 years ago. The first is that, well, the age of the youngest malt in your mix is 15 years. And the second is that whisky uses three different types of casks. Here, in this case, American and European oak casks that previously contained sherry wine, and American oak casks that previously matured bourbon whisky. Very objective – no fancy nicknames.
The Triple Cask range – formerly dubbed Fine Oak – was launched in 2004 and brought something new to The Macallan whiskies. The use of ex-bourbon American oak casks. Is that traditionally the distillery used predominantly ex-sherry casks. However, the increase in production, together with the cost and the search for new consumers – who often want more delicate whiskies – made The Macallan diversify its range.
And even though the name is crystal clear, the liquid is of rare sophistication. Macallan Triple Cask 15 Years Old is a single malt with an extremely balanced aroma, with notes of caramel, vanilla, honey, creme brulee, black pepper and a touch of dried fruit. Everything is there exactly where it should be – none of the scents trump the other. The palate, in turn, accompanies the aroma, and brings the characteristic oiliness so known from The Macallan.
The texture of The Macallan Triple Cask 15 years is mainly due to The Macallan stills. They are the lowest in all of Scotland. Its lyne arms face downward to maximize condensation and reduce reflux. All of this makes for a very oily distillate. To counteract a hypothetical aggressiveness, The Macallan’s heart cut is very restrited: Only sixteen percent of the distillate – produced in the middle of the distillation process in the still – turns into single malt.
Within The Macallan’s Triple Cask lineup, the 15 year old is perhaps this Bottled Dog’s favorite – especially given the aforementioned balance of casks and new-make. And also Dave Broom’s favourite! According to the renowned journalist “it takes time to open, but it’s worth the wait. It’s the complete package, and arguably the best. Grade 9 and 1/4 of 10.”
If you are looking for a sophisticated whisky, with a balanced aroma and at the same time personality, the Macallan 15 Triple Cask is your choice. No names full of enigmatic meanings. Just an extremely well made and polished single malt, capable of pleasing both the hardcore enthusiast and the most casual drinker.
MACALLAN TRIPLE CASK 15 YEARS
Type: Single Malt with declared age (15 years)
Aroma: caramel, vanilla, raisins, spices.
Flavor: Caramel, vanilla, creme brulee. Black pepper and dried fruit finish.