Whisky Advocate

Review: Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old

August 26th, 2011

Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old, 43%, $118

Macallan’s 18 year old expression is, for me, the highlight of its regular sherried range. Deep amber in color. The nose is rich and heavily fruited: fruit cake, mulberry, a little moist gingerbread, the bloody depths of molasses. On the palate, dried fruits — more figgy than raisined — while the natural oiliness in the spirit balances the boisterous tannins from the European oak. A singed note on the finish (an extension of the molasses?) completes the picture. Balanced and complex. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

31 Responses to “Review: Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old”

  1. Mr Claw says:


    I’ll agree with Dave on this. Macallan’s 18 is still one of the best standard/accessible bottlings of sherried whisky (Spey or otherwise) out there.

    That said, I still tend to gravitate towards GlenDronach or Glenfarclas…

  2. bj reed says:

    While the Macallan 18 is very good the Glenfarclas 17 is a much better deal for comparably quality

  3. Scribe says:

    Spot-on review…the Macallan 18 is not dissimilar for me to the Lagavulin 16 reviewed recently. Different beasts, to be sure. But both are constants in my liquor cabinet. In fact, with Hurricane Irene on her way, may need to move those two to the front of the cabinet so they are as readily available as the flashlights, candles and bottled water! 🙂

  4. DavidG says:

    Unfortunately in both NY and IL the going rate for it is $150.

  5. two-bit cowboy says:

    Curious, Dave, to know which vintage your review covers, especially for $118.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Listen to a Macallan executive and the brand is all about succesfully pushing the limits of premiumization. But when the time comes to furnish a publication doing reviews with an RRP they aim low and try their best to make their whisky look affordable…

      • two-bit cowboy says:

        I was curious, Red, because of the price but also because different vintages over the years have gotten a fairly wide range of review scores. Serge seems to fawn all over a particular 1989, for example. On the other hand, if an exec offers an RRP, he ought to be looking at a 2011 pricing guide.

  6. Louis says:

    My vote also goes to the Glendronach 15 due to 46% ABV and 50% lower price tag. John gave it a slightly higher rating as well,

    Scribe, have you tried the Lagavulin Distillers Edition? The best of both worlds in one dram.



    • Scribe says:

      Louis, I have not — but thank you for the tip! I always like something new!

    • Mary says:

      Louis: I agree – 43% is pretty slim for this $. There are much better taste(IMO)/higher ABV out there for same or less $. Macallan is too sweet for me but it’s a good intro whisky for single malt novices (maybe not the 18 yo because of price). I often suggest the 12 yo Mac for newbies & they usually like it very much. Also not such a sticker shock.

  7. Morgan Steele says:

    I’m a fan of the Macallan and this expression. Excellent review. Looking forward to comparing notes with my next bottle.

  8. Eric says:

    It’s $150.00 in Ohio, too. I like Macallan well enough, but I stick to the 12 yo… 6 more years isn’t worth another $100.00 to me.

  9. Danny Maguire says:

    I’ve not tried this particular beast, but when it comes to sherried Speysiders Glen Dronach is one of my favourites. Not sure if I’d want to pay the sort of silly prices I’ve seen for other Edrington brands.

    • Ryan says:

      One cost advantage (for first-time tasters) that Macallan 18 has over well-aged Glendronach and Glenfarclas, is being all-over the dining/drinking scene. No need to purchase an entire bottle just to try it.

      • Howard G.... says:

        Yeah but the typical bar that has Macallan 18 will be charging you at least $25 for a dram.

        • Ryan says:

          I routinely see it for $20, and infrequently a dollar-or-two less. But even at $25, that’s $125 Danny won’t have to commit to a bottle he’s never tasted.

  10. mongo says:

    the macallan cs sherry (nas in the u.s) is very good and excellent value (usually in the $50s)–i prefer it to the abunadhs i’ve had.

    • Morgan Steele says:

      Thoughtfully put, Mongo. P.S. Dave, I’m not sure where you’re finding the 18 in the US for $118. I would love to know where. In the US, I can’t find it for less than $140. For me, the 18 is THE expression for the Macallan. (For those who mentioned Glenfarclas, have you tried the 15?).

    • Chris says:

      To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the CS Macallan, especially compared to the Abunadh. The Abunadh (not sure which bottling) is the sort of whisky you can drink for a while, and then all of a sudden you’re hammered. It’s a sneaky strength. I really like Macallan, but I can’t help feeling that they’d all take a step up if Edrington went the Springbank/Bruichladdich route (46% abv and non chill-filtered). Just my opinion, but it seems the big, rich whiskies really gain from not being chill-filtered.

  11. Pat says:

    …YAWN… seriously

  12. mike says:

    I grabbed a dozen 375ml bottles for $35/ea when the local distributor cleared them out. I think that’s pretty close to the “right” price for it. Otherwise it’s ~$150 for a 750ml in my area.

  13. MichaelZ says:

    I have a real sweet spot for GF15….strangely available in Onatario this year at a reduced rate $84.00 Cdn…’on we go’…

  14. David says:

    I find the Mac 18 way over priced compared to other high quality 18yr whiskies. Highland Park 18, Laphroaig 18 (in Pennysvania is $65) About the same price but not as good as Springbank 18, for me it’s just not worth it. Seems the price is based on hype rather than substance, but that’s marketing for you. I’d say it’s probably geared to the novice whisky drinker who wants to puff his chest by getting the Mac 18, but for those in the know they most likely go elsewhere.

  15. KennH says:

    Which vintage Macallan 18 did you try here ? 1992 and earlier years ?

  16. lawschooldrunk says:

    Too rich for my blood.

    Fun Fact: Macallan 18yo is the favorite whisky of Neil Peart, drummer of the band Rush and Modern Drummer’s voted best rock drummer ever.

  17. VT Mike says:

    I recently tasted an 18yr Macallan (last time I tried one was about 5 years ago) and found it to be out of balance and overly woody. I’m not sure what the vintage was, but I can check when I’m at work Sunday. I definitely prefer the Cask Strength over the 12 and the 18, but I’d go for anything Glenfarclas first.

    In Vermont it’s going for $151 plus tax. Since it is a liquor control state, bars and restaurants have to buy liquor from the state and pay retail. They don’t have to pay the 6% sales tax that a regular consumer does, but they do have to tack a 10% tax on the drink price they charge (plus a local 1% tax in some towns). It can be tough to find a good dram for a reasonable price around here.

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