Smoking cigars, off-roading, shooting, and bear wrestling are just some of the incredibly manly things I do. However, scotch drinker I’m not.
When I was invited to a scotch tasting dinner by the good folks from The Macallan, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. How could I say no to James Bond’s scotch of choice?
They brought down four of their whiskys from their 1824 Series, and paired them with 9 courses at Kirin Downtown, a Chinese New Year themed dinner with fairly traditional banquet style dishes.
The Macallan 1824 Series is what’s called a “no age statement” whisky. Instead of differentiating based on age, such as 8, 10, or 12 year-old whiskys, they are selected and differentiated by their taste profile.
Out of the four, Gold is the most affordable choice. Dan Volway, The Macallan’s brand ambassador, called it his 3PM whiskey. I too like a job where I’m having a scotch at 3PM. Perhaps I should rethink my career choices.
The first pairing was actually a cocktail made with the Macallan Gold, the Firecracker. It was made with 1.5oz of the Gold, 3 tangerine wedges (or 0.25oz of tangerine juice), 2 dash of rhubarb bitters, and 2oz of ginger beer. It had a great citrus flavour, along with a bit of spice from the ginger. This was paired with a classic Chinese cold meat platter with excellent crispy roasted pork (though I’d imagine it’s better when hot). Despite being quite strong, this was a very easy drinking cocktail with a nice balance of citrus, sweet, spice, and bitterness, which was also why it paired well with the meat.
The Macallan Gold itself was paired with another classic Chinese New Year dish, braised dried scallop, dried oysters, with mushrooms, black moss and garlic. The dish was beautifully savoury, but still relatively light; it didn’t stand up as well against the strength of the scotch. This whisky was listed with tasting note such as orange peel, boiled sweets, ginger, lemon, and more. Being an amateur whiskey drinker, I’m sure I missed quite a few of those. Even though it did taste very complex, it had a fairly thin profile.
The Macallan Amber was paired with the roasted squab. This was by far my favorite pairing of the night. The rich and moist squab held its ground against the aggressiveness of the Amber.
Compared to the Gold, the Amber had more depth and a thicker profile. It was a very pleasant sipper. It was listed mostly with floral, citrus, candy floss and apple note.
Next up was my favorite scotch of the night, the Macallan Sienna. It was complex, rich, thick, and sweet. It had strong notes of vanilla and orange, and I could drink it alllll day. This was the one for me. This is the scotch that I can picture myself having after a long day at work, or a short day at work, or when I’m on vacation.
The Sienna was paired with a great lobster stir-fry, however like the Gold, I felt the strength of the whisky overwhelmed the dish.
The most beautiful Scotch of the night was served up next, the Macallan Rare Cask. Far less than 1% of the scotch casks maturing at the distillery could be bottled under this label. It was almost syrupy in texture. The taste of vanilla came on strong, then followed by preserved fruit. It was the most impactful whisky I’ve ever tasted. I loved it. So much that it was too much for me. Also, at $450 a bottle, I felt quite conscious with every sip I took, which took away a bit from the experience. I’m sure for those that are financially secure, that wouldn’t be an issue.
Although this wasn’t my first time drinking Scotch, it felt like the first time I’ve properly enjoyed it. If you ever get the opportunity, pick up a bottle of the Sienna and give it a try. Savour it for those special occasions. It’s worth it. You are worth it.