Day: November 16th, 2007

Slàinte redux

Friday, November 16th, 2007 | All Things, Events

At Midtown Loft, across the street from Marble Collegiate Church, this evening for a tasting event hosted by Macallan. Or rather: The Macallan.

On the 11th floor, we were greeted with tumblers of scotch, which we brought to the high round tables set up along what had been a fashion runway the last time I was here. As trays of hors d’Å“uvres were passed about, we were treated to a primer on the six scotch single malt whisky-producing regions in Scotland: Highland, Lowland, Islay, Campbeltown, Islands and Speyside — that last being the heartland of malt whisky, and the home to The Macallan distilleries. We learned that in order to be classed a “scotch” whisky, the spirit must have been matured in an oak cask in Scotland for a minimum of three years, and bottled at a minimum strength of 40% alcohol by volume… which meant, so we were forewarned: no sticking your nose inside the glass for a hard whiff unless you’re looking to burn out the nasal membrane.

The Macallan

I’m not much of a scotch drinker, so there was added value in being talked through the tastings of The Macallan Fine Oak 15 and 17 year-old scotches. For this line, the scotch is matured in a triple combination of oak casks from Europe and America: the European casks are seasoned with sherry, which imparts hints of dried fruits, spice and chocolate orange; the American casks are either seasoned with sherry (lending notes of lemon, coconut and toffee) or with bourbon (which delivers floral aromas and sweet notes of vanilla and fresh fruits.) Tastes of The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 year scotch came next, followed by the distillery’s pride: The Macallan 18 year old, which was named “Best Malt in the World” by Whisky Magazine in June 2004. All The Macallan Sherry Oaks are matured exclusively in sherry oak casks brought to the distillery from Jerez, Spain — a town acclaimed worldwide for its sherry and brandy production.

Fancy, but not the fanciest: on December 8, a bottle of 1926(!) vintage Macallan — bottled in 1986 and rebottled in 2002 — was sold for a record-breaking $54,000 (including commission) at Christie’s “Fine and Rare Wines and Spirits” auction, in what was the first spirits auction to take place in New York since Prohibition.

The Macallan

Each new glass was accompanied by cheers of the Scottish Gaelic toast “Slàinte Mhath!” — pronounced: “SLAHN-zhe-vah,” which is an ever-so-slightly different pronunciation from the Irish toast we were taught earlier this year. Each vintage was introduced with a newsreel montage, which provided some context for the year in which our scotches were bottled. Has it really been 17 years since Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa, and Milli Vanilli were stripped of their Grammy? (Best “Behind the Music” ever, by the way — “Girl, you know it’s… Girl, you know it’s… Girl, you know it’s true!”)

Five drams in one night. Not record proportions, but quite enough.

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