The Macallan Ruby

Love em’ or hate em’ The Macallan have made themselves known as a luxury brand in the scotch whisky world and it’s a concept they embrace whole heartedly. You may find that many offerings from their line are a little out of reach for us common folk as the prices can often seem more like a real estate investment. However, outside those locked cabinets filled with flashy decanters you may notice some more reasonably priced expressions such as various triple oak bottling’s and 12 year old offerings, each catering to specific tastes and budgets but mostly out of sync with their higher end expressions. As much grief as I give Macallan for their luxury vibe I have to give credit where credits is due, those luxury offerings are often quite delicious, whether you can afford them or not is irrelevant. With their special focus on sherry casks and sherry seasoned casks they’ve commanded a mastery over the oak they use and they keep a close eye on the influence it has on their spirit.

Insert today’s luxury offering, The Macallan Ruby. Being part of the much hated 1824 series may leave the weary wanderer a little skeptical as the entry level and unexceptional Gold really had drinkers turning up their nose at Macallan. “How dare you take our money” folks cried as this one differed so drastically from what we’ve come to know from Macallan, expensive… but damn tasty. The Gold was cheap and gross. Moving on to the barely tolerable Amber and people were spitting their Macallan on the ground, demanding refunds as their reliable favourite had become a stranger right before their eyes. Luckily, redemption was in sight and folks smiled from ear to ear as the stunningly delicious and subtlety spicy Sienna took the hearts of drinkers by storm. Finally, the delightfully dark and wonderfully scrumptious shining gem of the family, the very well received Ruby. These whiskies from the 1824 series are all named after the colour imparted on them by the oak barrels they were resting in, however, it didn’t seem to work quite as Macallan had hoped. Folks were not celebrating change, they were throughly unimpressed with the decision to move away from age statements. Unfortunately, Macallan was getting called out for the wrong reasons. People wanted age statements and it didn’t matter how delicious the nectar turned out to be, it still wasn’t enough for the uninformed. If it didn’t have an age stated on the bottle, no one trusted it and most refused to give it a chance. What can be said is that the colour reflects the perceived flavour, for the Ruby that is, as deep notes of leather and polish dominate the nose while beautifully long and lasting waves of sherry flood the senses. From nostrils to jowls you can expect a full and lustrous palate with notes of toasted oak and dried cranberries, a touch of nutmeg spice and sweet raisins on the finish. It’s lovely mouth feel paired with its enormous flavour had collectors rushing out to buy the last remaining stocks as secure investments for thirsty bellies. Even at 43% you can’t be mad, you want more ABV it’s true but you can’t be mad.

The Macallan found a happy medium between highly expensive and absolutely delicious and named it Ruby.

“Hell yeahs” ripple through the crowd as thirsty bastards nod their heads in approval.

Cheers

Josh Ward @knowyourwhisky

Glenmorangie 14 Year Quinta Ruban

The 12 Year Quinta Ruban has always been a steady ‘go to’ for me. It’s one of those bottles that I put on the table for all occasions because it is as palatable a whisky there is. It is sweet, succulent and smooth from the nose to the finish and carries just enough depth to please the experienced whisky drinker but not complex enough that it becomes too much to unpack for the inexperienced consumer to enjoy.

The name Quinta Ruban is derived from the estates in Portugal the wine was produced; Quinta, and the type of Port; Ruby or Ruban as pronounced in Gaelic. The more interesting part of this to me is that, Ruby Port is typically the most extensively produced and most simplistic in character out of all the varieties of Port and it’s normally aged in concrete or steel tanks to prevent oxidation so the lively bright fruity colour and flavours remain. Its not often a Ruby Port is aged in oak casks so they aren’t widely used by whisky distillers which makes this expression somewhat unique.

This whisky is first aged in ex-Bourbon casks which gives it a nice uniform sweetness and a perfect foundation for the Ruby cask finishing. Both of which lend perfectly to one another, creating a balanced dram until you reach the height of the palate where you’ll find a beautiful facsimile of those bright Ruby characteristics we talked about earlier.

Colour

I don’t typically talk about he colour unless its a real stand out quality and with this one, it will solely draw you into buying it without knowing anything else. Its a vibrant amber with a beautiful ruby red glow. Colour can be very important and in this case, it is always a conversation piece and generates some excitement prior to the tasting.

Nose

Somewhat mellow so you really need to plant your nose in the glass it find its true character. Once you sinuses are firmly invested, you’ll find that rich port sweetness accompanied by some malty milk chocolate, citrus and oak spice.

Palate

I love the balance of fruit, chocolate and spice in this dram. It starts off fruity for me, full of peaches and sweet citrus followed by almond and mint chocolate before the baking spices and oak take over up to the finish.

Finish

The spice continues into the finish with a pleasant tannic wine dryness. In between are some lingering hints of the chocolate and citrus remainng from the palate.

All in all, a superb dram. I would prefer enjoying it as an digestif but it by no means should be type cast as such. As usual, it is a great value by as we know and love Glemorangie for always being, so get out there and put one of these on your shelves!

Comparison to Quinta Ruban 12

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This tasting would be complete without doing a quick side by side with it younger version. I honestly wasn’t expecting a huge difference between the two, yet then found myself quite surprised. Don’t get me wrong though, the profile is almost identical but the vibrancy an extra 2 years of maturation attributed to this whisky is outstanding. Adding some needed life to the nose, more creamy maltiness, chocolate and oaky characteristics building some complexity and sharpness to the palate, and then subtly lengthening the finish. All great additions to an already solid drinkable whisky.

Another interesting thing is that they increased the volume to a 750ml bottle instead of the previous 700ml. Considering the Age increased and you get a few each drams out of the bottle but the price pretty much remained solidifies my earlier sentiment. Now, go get this bottle! Cheers!

  • Review written by Steven Shaw