The Macallan Sherry Oak and Fine Oak Scotch Whisky Review

Discover Two Reliable Speyside Scotch Whiskies

The Macallan Scotch Whisky
Fine Oak is one of the flagship expressions of Scotch whisky from The Macallan and it is available in a range from 10-30 years. chuckyeager/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Macallan is known for producing fine single malt scotch. These are some of the best whiskies you will likely taste and there are many expressions to choose from within the brand. The Fine Oak and Sherry Oak bottlings are the flagship expressions and available in ranges that span from 10 to 30 years. 

Early in 2010, the scotch producer hosted a virtual tasting event named "The Macallan Tasting Note Project" and during that time I was able to taste the 12 YO Sherry Oak and 15 YO Fine Oak.

Both are impressive whiskies and ones that should be a staple in any scotch tasting experience.

A Review of The Macallan Scotch Whisky

Originally Published: March 17, 2010

The more I explore the whiskies produced by The Macallan, the more I want to explore the entire portfolio. Though my first introduction to these Speyside single malts were the expressions of the 1824 Collection, the two I recently tasted from the brand's core were just as spectacular. I have yet to find a bottling from The Macallan that is anything less than superior.

The Macallan Tasting Note Project

In March 2010, The Macallan put together a tasting note project on Twitter with SXSW in Austin, Texas that put the 12-year-old sherry oak and 15-year-old fine oak in front of a diverse group of drinkers. The results reflected my impressions and in browsing the tweets, I believe that these are Scotch whiskies that anyone can enjoy.

There was some dispute as to which is better. Some people liked the spiciness of Sherry Oak while others preferred the subtle characteristics of the Fine Oak. I could go either way and would choose one over the other based on the mood of the moment because each has their place and are distinctly different from the other.

The Macallan's Aging Process

I always find the aging process of spirits interesting and in this instance it tells a lot about the characteristics of the two whiskies.

  • The Sherry Oak range is aged in Spanish oak casks. The wood has been dried in the north and south of Spain before sherry is aged inside. When the sherry is done, the barrels are sent to the River Spey distillery to be used for this whisky.
  • The Fine Oak range uses some of these same barrels, but also employs new American oak casks from Kentucky and used bourbon barrels. From this collection of casks, a marriage of whiskies is obtained by The Macallan's Whisky Maker, Bob Dalgarno.

If you can, I encourage you to put these two "oak" expressions side-by-side because it is a great example of what different aging practices can do to what is essentially the same scotch.

Tasting Notes on The Macallan Sherry and Fine Oak Scotch

The Sherry Oak is lighter in color and overall taste than the Fine Oak, though it is considerably spicier. In one word, I would call it a "sprightly" scotch. The Fine Oak is darker, warmer and, in general, a more refined scotch.

As one tweet from the tasting note project noted, you can taste the difference of three years.

Yet that is not completely fair. Yes, you can taste the age, but it is also the American oak that you are tasting in the Fine Oak.

If these are the mid-range of each of these lines, I can only imagine and hope to get a taste of the older expressions. Remarkable "young" scotch has to be astounding with 15 odd years added to it.

More About These Macallan Scotch Whiskies

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.