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I didn't tell you that when we left the BENRIACH tasting and before returning to France, we took advantage of our presence (for which we will now need a visa!!) in Speyside to continue our route on the A941 and especially along the river Spey.
We drove a little quarter of an hour aboard BRAD PEAT and we arrived at an intersection whose magical directional sign (one of those like on Islay) makes any whisky lover shudder. On the right are names like Aberlour and Craigellachie, on the right Knockando and in our back Glen Grant!
We took a right turn on a mountain road surrounded by forest. At the end of a few minutes, on our left appear two stones planted in the ground and the sign of our destination of the day: The MACALLAN !
Still a few hundred meters where our road passed through a barley field. We finally arrived on the site of the old distillery (which was replaced two years ago by the modern "hobbits" distillery half hidden under the ground). Today we will not come back to the new site (which we had already visited in 2018 during a tasting of a 12 year old) but we will continue our journey to the EASTER ELCHIES HOUSE where we will taste the new MACALLAN ESTATE.
We parked BRAD PEAT in the courtyard of the mansion and headed towards the entrance. After knocking on the door it was a butler who opened the door: "Hello Gentlemen, I am Lewis and I will guide you".
And here we are walking through the corridors of this manor with Lewis who told us his story. He tells us that it was built in 1700 by Captain John Grant of Elchie (who spent his vacations here and fished for salmon in the River Spey below).
Lewis also tells us that 60 years after its construction, it was sold to the Seafield family who owned it for almost 200 years. Finally, he told us that among the various tenants of the place there was a certain Reid in 1820, and especially that it was he who created the first official distillery of the place in 1824 (dixit the neck of the bottles of the brand even if according to the legend one distilled here in a much more unofficial way for many years - N.D.L.R.).
When we finally arrived in the dining room where we were going to taste the ESTATE in a club armchair in front of the fireplace and under the portrait of Captain John Grant of Elchie, he finally told us that it was in 1960 that THE MACALLAN became owner although in a pitiful state.
The decor was set and here we are sitting in armchairs that certainly had received more than one whisky taster.
The fire was crackling in the fireplace and we watched Lewis solemnly walk to the nearby bar to pick up a large (and by the way, seemingly quite heavy) dark box and carry it to the coffee table in front of us.
He explained to us that THE MACALLAN's wish to offer a luxury whisky was being fulfilled through its packaging. In fact, even before opening it and discovering its contents, he explained to us that this piece of marquetry was unique to each bottle and handmade. He showed us the different components that were supposed to remind us of the places we were in. We could see slate inlays (hence the weight). Magnificent this box which won first place in the luxury drinks category at the Luxury Packaging Awards in London in November 2019, but the container?!
He opened the famous box and took out the bottle with the recognizable shape with the word ESTATE in gold letter! Here we are!
Lewis took out two beautiful crystal glencairns worthy of receiving the precious beverage with its dark gold color, almost brown! Pouring the distillate into our glasses, he tells us that it was produced over a single week (a single batch) from barley grown right here (at the Easter Elchies estate) and was blended by Whisky Maker Sarah Burgess with the intention of making it representative of the place and in the image of Speyside and who chose to age it only in sherry barrels!
So as our dear Jean de La FONTAINE would have said: "if the ramage refers to the plumage ...! »
Let's see what's going on?
As for its smell, it deserves to be tamed gradually.
Before frankly pushing the nose into the glass, we will detect a smell of honey and caramel quite sweet. By far there is no aggressiveness despite the 43% alcohol content.
On the other hand, it is very aggressive when we plunge it frankly into the glass, because it will be very fruity without being covered by too much sugar. The aging sherry and there one cannot be mistaken in a very fine way and without aggressiveness. This distillate is hot and goes well with the fire we have in front of us.
At the second passage the nose detects a bit of raisins then more citrus fruits and finally more spices which gradually come to refresh the aromas.
Go a third time and the whole thing rounds off with a smell of honey and especially hazelnut with in the background (in a discreet way), as if roasted, the barley from which it comes from.
To go the moment is solemn (as every time you taste a whisky at more than 200 €.
Like its nose, its entry into the mouth is done without a bang, we are dealing with a very fine whisky but with pep.
It signs a sweet arrival but which passes rather quickly on a nut but especially the sherry aromas. It delivers the harshness and spices of the barrel in which it has aged. The spices (ginger and pepper) position themselves and remain on the tip of the tongue (long enough). A little later the harshness and the sherry grapes make their return with a hint of vanilla which comes to add heat that seems to intensify at the end of the tasting. The signal to swallow is given by the arrival of a hint of cooking and especially of cinnamon when it plunges into the throat.
The finish is quite long and largely carried on winy and woody aromas.
We are not dealing with a classy and complex whisky that deserves a great deal of reflection at the time of tasting and ideally a fire in the fireplace as we have one today.