The Macallan Edition No. 4
I was in a speakeasy bar in Makati, and this woman I just met was talking about tasting notes.
Specifically, she was talking about The Macallan Edition No. 4, apropos of the recent unveiling at the bar in question of the whisky of the same name. Everybody was just as giddy as she was, having a field-day hobnobbing and talking about every reason they love all things Macallan.
The whisky had yet to be in her flask, she said. “But it’s a good whisky.”
She went on impeccably describing it as light and sugary on the nose, the flavor profile hinging on deep dried fruits—an orange “zestiness” to it if you will, perhaps a little chocolate and berry influence—and ginger and pepper and cinnamon, which, she said, she attributed to European casks. She said it’s characteristic of the old classic Macallan that gets even more pronounced than when you first open the bottle.
She waited a bit, gently swirled her whisky sour, and asked me, with a peak sense of snobbery, how I liked mine.
I was like, “Huh?”
Truth is, I’m always caught out at tastings, struggling to decipher the nuances and recognize the difference amid the most svelte of contrast.
But then again, my definition of a good whisky, or whiskey, for that matter, doesn’t have something to be something different, but something “me”.
I believe it all goes down to personal preferences, regardless of whether, beyond tasting notes, the whisky is made of the purest water, the most premium barley and yeast. In my opinion, the mark of quality doesn’t equate to the quality of the bottlers, distilleries or blenders; nor I have a concern for quality of the casks or the length of maturation or awards or price or grade.
Also, the fact that a whisky has been distilled in who knows where is so low on the list that it is irrelevant. It’s the worst disservice you can do to it. Classifying malts as “Islay” or “Speyside” is like telling the distinction between a regular cigarette and menthol, which, as David Sedaris puts it, amounts to the same subtle difference between being kicked by a donkey and being kicked by a donkey with socks on.
I like The Macallan, do I give it a whimsical regard so as I’d despise the Glenlivet? Does my inclination toward Lagavulin make me develop a sense of aversion to Ardbeg?
A good whisky, for me, is not so on account of its age; a good whisky is something that gets better as you get older. It surprises you, and something that you can very well relate to.
I tilted my glass and looked through my libation, which, held up to the light, assumed the color of burnished copper, then told the woman that I could, notwithstanding the influence of tradition, heritage and how it got its name, very well identify with what I had, a neat Macallan 12, and, for sure, the Edition No. 4.
I have yet to know why I was deeply enamored by it; it is something I know, as with anything Macallan, I can latch on as a good company whenever I find myself lonelier in the company of strangers—something I would ask the bartender for again and again, in the same manner with which I might ask a bard to play me something I can drink to.
And I think we may all agree that there’s nothing quite like anything Macallan, especially when enjoyed in exclusivity and speakeasy kind of semi-darkness, while some dour Dixieland jazz is issuing from the old-timey radio.
I took a wee dram just to ward off all the inhibition to finally tell the woman to forget about her sophisticated sense for smell, color, and palate. As for me, it’s just ironic to define a serious drink by emphasizing its fruit-cake fruity flavors—Really, what in bloody hell are you talking about? Kool Aid?—and drink like a sir.
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