Age statements are typically the go-to barometer when it comes to picking a whisky. Though older isn’t necessarily better, knowing just how long a whisky has matured in varying barrels allows for a measure of assurance — a stamp of sticking to a time-old tradition.
In 2016 though, No Age Statement (NAS) whiskies became a small fixture in the whisky market. These are whiskies where methods of maturation, strains of wood, or flavours become the focal point of the bottle’s label instead of your usual “X Years Old”. Seasoned whisky fans either wholly embraced or approached the new hybrid with trepidation, but the largely positive reception towards NAS whiskies has given the trend a leg up into the new year.
And yet, NAS whiskies aren’t entirely new to The Macallan. The past few years saw a grand response greeting each new rendition of the Speyside distillery’s NAS expressions, especially with the release of The Macallan Rare Cask.
If you’re an aficionado looking to venture into NAS whiskies, or an amateur trying to seriously impress with a new inclusion to your top shelf, here’s why the Rare Cask should be your next (and most worthwhile) investment.
1. You’re getting a mix of 16 different cask profiles.
And some are first-fill only. A handful of the barrels used to make the Rare Cask will also never be used again in another Macallan expression. Considering how only 1% of maturing casks are selected by The Macallan’s resident Master Whisky Maker Bob Dalgarno, you know you’re getting a taste of pure rarity.
2. It’s an exemplary testament to the importance wood plays in a whisky.
The Rare Cask places exceptional attention on just how integral wood is in the composition of the whisky, given that 80% of the character the spirit possesses comes from the cask it is aged in. “Wood sits at the very heart of what we do at The Macallan, and Rare Cask embodies our unquestionable commitment to exceptional wood management, demonstrating the vital role of our casks in the production of superb whiskies. Rare Cask is a culmination of our knowledge, skill, passion, commitment and creativity, showcasing The Macallan at its very best,” explains Stuart MacPherson, the distillery’s Master of Wood.
3. You’re getting an exact focus on taste, regardless of the age statement.
Without the age statement, Dalgarno concentrates on taste above all. What you’re getting is a bulk of first-fill sherry seasoned whiskies that showcase the finest of Macallan’s sherry offerings. Fans of the Sherry Cask 12 Year-Old will especially love the richness of the milk chocolate and citrusy notes that come through in the Rare Cask, unfolding steadily into wood spice aromas that are highly complex. While the original Sherry Cask is dominated by caramel, this mahogany whisky tapers off to a delectable hint of smokiness, which is an intriguing touch to a Macallan.
4. It’s all natural.
Wood and the ageing process are what give whisky its colour. Caramel spirits or colourings are typically added to enhance certain expressions that look a tad pale, but Macallan places a strict ban on any artificiality in its expressions. The rich, dark amber colour you see in the Rare Cask is the product of a stringent curation selection and excellent maturation process.
5. It’s guaranteed to impress
Regardless of how well you know your whisky, the Rare Cask is a bottle that commands wows once you bust it out at a dinner. Aside from being remarkable on the palate, it’s also a visual stunner just sitting in your booze cabinet. If you’re feeling extra generous, gift it to a loved one who’s a dedicated whisky fan, and score brownie points for eternity.