Since I was first introduced to the dram, nearly two short years ago, I've considered this expression to be my "quintessential" Macallan experience. Matured exclusively in sherry oak casks from Jerez, Spain that were previously seasoned with dry Oloroso for 18 months; this whisky is like Christmas morning in a glass. It's bottled at cask strength (60.1% A.B.V. on the label but I've noticed variation between batches), without chill filtration and is best enjoyed with a splash of water.
Fans of The Macallan and lovers of big, richly sherried Speyside whiskies take note: The Macallan Cask Strength has been discontinued in Ontario and, judging by the website, globally as well. Perhaps as part of the shuffle within the product range, the heretofore non-age-stated red mahogany beauty has now been re-launched as a 10 year old cask strength offering. Although I have yet to try the new formula, I'm left wondering "If it ain't broke..."
Nose: Without water, expect to be taken aback by a strong, concentrated burst of alcohol co-mingled with dried fruits, orange, and spice. With a generous splash of water, the nose becomes more nuanced and layered and you can actually begin to pull out some distinctive fruity notes like: apricot, raisins, plums and candied pineapple alongside buttery oak.
Palate: Without water, hot but by no means fiery with bright flavours of raisins, candied fruit, chocolate orange and hazelnuts amidst a warming woody spice mixture of nutmeg and cloves. With water this dram really shines as the spirit becomes smoother and richer by allowing the more subtle flavours of caramel and coffee to emerge.
Finish: At full strength, the long and lingering finish eventually settles into rich dark chocolate and a hint of wood smoke. The slight oiliness of the spirit gives the dram some extra "oomph" here as it seems to coat the mouth while simultaneously producing a mouth-puckering dryness and of course a wonderful numbing of the lips! A splash of water creates a better interplay in the finish between the notes of vanilla, coconut, smoke and spice before settling into the dark chocolate flavours which now appears much later.
Overall: Personally speaking, this was the best standard Macallan expression I've found to date. Aside from the delicious flavour, I've also loved the slight batch variation between bottles resulting in differing alcohol content (from 54% to a monstrous 61%) as well as shifts in the intensity of the bouquet. It is without question for me, a smart buy as it's reasonably priced at $99.95 in the LCBO and it's the last we'll see of this great whisky. Purchase one to squirrel away and one to share.