Friday, 24 February 2012

Published in: March 2011Features > The Mystifying Relationship between Oak and Spirit (Page 2 / 2)
Prior to being diffused into the carefully selected oak casks, the distillery’s curiously small copper stills, which play a crucial role in distilling process, helps to concentrate the flavor, delivering a rich and full-bodied character to the ‘new make’ spirit. Typically, only 16 % of the ‘finest cut’ - the amount of distilled spirit collected from the stills as ‘new make’ spirit - goes to fill the casks. This highly discriminating process is the starting point for all The Macallan whiskies.
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Once filled, each cask affects the ‘new make’ spirit in different ways to create dynamic variations in color, aroma and flavor. A typical Macallan is created from around 50 casks through ‘vatting’, a process that identifies and marries these individual casks together. Given The Macallan’s long history, its single malt whisky has had the time to mature in a number of styles ranging from rich and complex through to subtle, delicate and refined. While The Macallan Sherry Oak is characterized by its rich color and hints of dried fruit and spice, The Macallan Fine Oak imparts a subtle and delicate color with hints of dried fruit, floral aromas and toffee sweetness.
Contrary to lesser single malts, The Macallan insists that all color remain natural. While the interaction of spirit and oak contributes to the rich diversity of color, it also presents an interesting challenge when it comes to ensuring consistency from bottle to bottle and generation to generation. To achieve this, Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Whisky Maker, and his team experiment with thousands of casks to ensure consistent quality and color when they are married together for bottling.
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The success of these alliances is manifested in The Macallan’s exceptional collections. In 2002, the Fine & Rare collection was widely acclaimed for its diverse hues and aroma, thus attesting to the distillery’s insistence on the natural interaction of spirit and wood. Comprising 38 vintage The Macallans from 1926 to 1974, the single malt whisky was cultivated in an array of European and American oaks before being seasoned with sherry during both the first and second fills

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