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Finer Oak range gets finer

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Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Sally Toms » Mon Apr 24, 2006 9:41 am

The Macallan has extended its Fine Oak range of single malt Highland Scotch whiskies with the introduction of a 17 year old expression. The whisky continues the success of The Macallan Fine Oak 10, 15 and 21 Years Old, which the distillery introduced in November 2004 and Fine Oak 30 Years Old, just launched in June 2005.

Since its introduction, The Macallan Fine Oak, a lighter expression of the traditional Macallan, has expanded the brand's audience in the U.S. and has received numerous industry accolades.

Daniel Goodwin, senior brand manager, said that the 17 Years Old would broaden the appeal of the fine oak range.

He added: “The lighter, more modern flavour expressions of the Fine Oak range resonates with whisky connoisseurs and novices alike. Fine Oak 17 expands upon a completely unique line of super-premium single malt Scotches.”
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Postby Admiral » Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:38 am

He added: “The lighter, more modern flavour expressions of the Fine Oak range


Is he suggesting that sherried expressions are old fashioned? :(
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Apr 28, 2006 8:19 am

Hin there,

yes Sir. That is what he implies. After all the years of rolls roycing in the malt business there is now a need for substantiating the new vauxhalling malts. The ideas they have and the reasons they find! What about some truth to justify the Fine Oak line? Simple and straightforward.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Apr 28, 2006 8:54 am

Some truth to justify the "Fine Oak"?

They can't make enough real 18 year old "Sherry Oak" to meet demand.


A fine post kallaskander, maybe we'll all be drinking a Ford Model T(ea) soon?
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Apr 28, 2006 3:49 pm

I think the truth, as many people have said including the Macallan, is that they cannot source enough quality sherry casks to support the entire sherried line up. People are drinking less sherry these days and as a result the caks are not available.

If there are other reasonable reasons I'd like to hear them.
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Postby kallaskander » Fri Apr 28, 2006 5:30 pm

Hi there,

I am not out to split hairs, but...

No seriously, Glenfarclas does have a huge output of sherry cask matured malt, too. They should be affected as well. I did not hear of that yet.

As we are talking about matured whisky it seems to me there should be a kind of positive time lag. It could very well be that it is a problem to secure prime ex-sherry casks today. If that is a recent development then there should be sherried malt from say 10-12 years ago and even longer ago. So that would seem to suggest that either the problems with the sherry casks started longer ago or there is no problem, as other distilleries do not seem to be affected. And there are older sherried Macallan expressions of 25 and 30 years released.
The Glendronach 15 years was ended but was never in a swing as big as Macallan.
Jim McEwan just signed a contract with a Spanish sherry bodega to secure supplies for Bruichladdich and MMD.
And so on. I am not convinced.

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Postby Lawrence » Fri Apr 28, 2006 6:05 pm

Well I'de love to have a definative answer to the question. You are quite correct in that there are many distilleries using ex sherry casks which just creates more questions than answers, although there are logical answers I am quite sure, we just don't have them.

I also think that the Macallan didn't take this decision lightly, it must have been very painful to watch such a large part of the business vanish, no?

I don't think they made the change just to spite us, do you? Everybody I've talked to in the industry say it was because they could not buy the style and quality of cask they needed to support the line up.

As I said in the beginning I'd love to have the answers (an am quite happy to admit I don't have the answers other than what I've read and heard) and don't believe in a conspiracy theory. I think it comes down to economics in the end.

Thoughts?
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Postby ScotchBlog » Fri Apr 28, 2006 10:08 pm

kallaskander wrote:Hi there,
Glenfarclas does have a huge output of sherry cask matured malt, too. They should be affected as well. I did not hear of that yet.


I would hazard that the output of Glenfarclas is a very small percentage of what Macallan puts out. The sherry drought will affect them sooner or later.

I'll be at Glenfarclas in June and will ask George Grant...
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:13 am

Oh, where's Revilo when we need him? :roll:

It all seems very simple and straightforward to me. They simply don't have enough quality stock to supply the world with sherried Macallan. This is the result of decisions made ten, twelve, eighteen years ago, and only points up how hard it is to foresee what demand is going to be in the future. Nothing at all nefarious there. They do have a good supply of non-sherried stock, apparently, presumably originally intended for the blenders or brokers. If they want to take advantage of the growing market and increase the brand's presence in the marketplace (and they do), this is the only way they can do it. Again, nothing nefarious--just business decisions. It's a shame they have had to allocate and cut out certain markets, but it's a simple matter of supply and demand. It's unrealistic to complain on the one hand that the stuff isn't available, and on the other hand that it's too expensive. The two go hand in hand.
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Macallan Fine Oak

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:20 am

To be blunt, I personally feel that the Fine Oak series is a step in the wrong direction. I prefer the sherried finish Macallan over the Fine Oak. In the past I understand that Macallan used first fill sherry butts for 70-80 % of their whisky, with the remainder in second fill butts. As there are 5,500 wineries making 33 milllion hectolitres of wine per annum,(http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/wine/spa ... egions.htm)
there appears to have been a slight drop in production of Spanish wine and therefore Sherry from a high of 4.5 million hl in 1990 to a drop of 3.68 million hl in 2000, (based on available EU statistics in INEbase)
I can only assume Macallan is engaged in a cost cutting measure with the Fine Oak series as there logically will be be fewer Sherry butts available. However, the price of any Macallan product is not remaining stable in the marketplace. So, to enjoy the Sherry finish, I will continue to pay the higher price demanded. Just not so often. Musky Pete
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Apr 29, 2006 8:20 am

Cost-cutting, schmost-cutting. They just don't have the goods! It was made years ago! This is not unusual--several other distilleries have gone through supply crunches recently. You can criticize the decision to release the FO series on esthetic grounds, bu the economics are unarguable. They have stuff to sell, and they are selling it. It's just not the stuff you want.

When a perceived premium product like Macallan already has an inflated price due to low supply and high demand, there is little real pressure to cut costs. Not that some bean-counters wouldn't do it, anyway, but I really don't think that's the issue here. I'm quite sure that Macallan would love to be selling all the sherried product everyone wants. But they don't have enough of it! That's all there is to it.
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Postby ScotchBlog » Sat Apr 29, 2006 11:42 am

I agree with tattie.

When the world starts to run out of peat (this is a silly example) and Laphroaig introduces a "lightly peated" version, it will be out of necessity, not an underhanded move to piss off fans.

Lagavulin already faced a similar situation, where there wasn't enough 16...so they released a 12.

In an industry where the product is made 10-20 years before the demand is known...moves like this are simply a reality.
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Postby Lawrence » Sat Apr 29, 2006 6:50 pm

Remember also that the Spanish government changed the law that allowed sherry to be exported in casks and now all sherry must be bottled in Spain. The casks are now subject to contamination from bacteria. There is an exception, I understand. for 'transport sherry' a few gallons that are put in some casks to defeat the bacteria. The most common way to protect a cask from contamination by bacteria is by using sulphur candles which cause all sorts of problems for the follow on users.

But people are correct when they talk of Macallan's business decisions, at the end of the day distilleries are businesses and they will do what they have to do to survive.
Last edited by Lawrence on Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Jan » Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:19 pm

Lawrence wrote: The most common way to protect a cask from contamination by bacteria is by using sulphur candles which cause all sorts of problems for the follow users.


This reminds me, that in the bible JM more than once refers to a wood policy adapted some years ago, that is now resulting in sulphured bottlings.
I have been wondering what he refers to... could this be it ?

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Postby Iain » Sat Apr 29, 2006 9:55 pm

Lawrence wrote: "People are drinking less sherry these days and as a result the caks are not available. "

I don't think people are drinking less sherry in the UK - my experience (drinking with friends, especially female friends) is the opposite, and this story seems to back it up:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/4528500.stm

I don't know how that affects availabilty of sherry casks in the UK.

However, to be honest, I don't really care much for Macallan any more. Since the transfer of ownership, Macallan has changed dramatically in the way it deals with its customers. I don't like what they do, and I don't trust a word that the Mac pr and marketing people people say. Credibility went out the window when they began defending the indefensible - denying the truth of the story re the "Fake Mac" (which they were selling on their website!) for months after the world knew the truth.

The Mac "vintages" and special bottlings are overpriced, and the brand is trading on a reputation built up long ago when it was a truly distinctive dram, owned by an independent company of recognised integrity.

Many folks say that the demand for Mac was such that most of it came from "treated" casks anyway, in which case the non-availability of large numbers of casks that had previously been entirely filled with sherry would not have been a problem.

And I'm certainly not implying that Mac was alone in treating casks with paxarette (allegedly) - it's an "old hat" issue here on the forum, and I think most folks agreed that the important issue was how the resulting whisky tasted.
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Postby Frodo » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:08 am

Iain wrote:And I'm certainly not implying that Mac was alone in treating casks with paxarette (allegedly) - it's an "old hat" issue here on the forum...


Hi Ian:

Could you expand on this? I've never heard of paxarette being used in casking (don't know what it is either).

Thanks.
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Apr 30, 2006 6:30 am

It's a concentrated sherry paste that they smear over the inside of a cask to re sherry it. Generally it doesn't work too well.
Last edited by Lawrence on Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Frodo » Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:17 am

Wow! Interesting...
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Postby Lawrence » Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:46 pm

In some instances in the SMWS tasting notes they'll talk of a 'treated' cask and this is generally what they are refering to.
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Postby Jan » Sun Apr 30, 2006 8:43 pm

It is my impression that the practice of paraxette treatment of cask as been abandoned... is that not so ?

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Postby Lawrence » Mon May 01, 2006 4:29 pm

I have no idea if the use of paraxette is no liner used however there are such casks still in the sytem from years ago.
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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Fri May 05, 2006 10:40 am

Is there any way to identify this in a bottle if one came across it? Also I wonder did it detract from the whisky or was it just not very good at it's job?
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Finer Oak Range Gets Finer

Postby Danny » Wed Jun 07, 2006 12:47 am

I seem to recall reading somewhere, have looked but can not find it just this minute, that Macallan is having Spanish Oak cut to specifications and then paying to have sherry aged in the casks, as they were no longer able to purchase Spanish Oak that had previously held sherry.

I note that MJ, page 71 of the 5th edition, states " Much as it is desired by Macallan, Spanish oak is less well supported in its own country. Spanish wine makers, including those of Jerez, increasingly prefer the sweeter more vanilla like character of American Oak"

I love the sherried Macallan, and I don't think they deliberately went about making it obsolete. I think a combination of market demand, changing trends in both the Single Malt and Sherry production, cost control and opportunity where all part of the decision.
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Postby kallaskander » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:47 am

Hi there,

http://wrt.es/productoeng.htm

Click on the link named Blending Paxarette.

Or Whisky Scotch Type.

Interesting if short.

Greetings
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Postby kallaskander » Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:21 am

Hi there,

sorry to drag up an old thread from the depth of oblivion. I just stumbled over a quote concerning The Macallan that greatly amused me.

" When using Spanish oak, the studies indicate that about 10% of the quality of The Macallan whisky is based on the sherry wine-derived compounds," notes David. "In fact, we have some casks of Macallan whisky from the late 1970s aged in different sherries—fino, amontillado, and oloroso—and we’re seeing little difference between them. The wine’s impact would be more significant if American oak casks were used."

While the initial studies have shown the quality of The Macallan whisky is largely "wood driven" and that the impact of sherry wine extractives are lesser so, there are still many other variables which David hopes to isolate and quantify. These variables include the impact of oxidation on The Macallan and the overall contributions of the new make spirit to the quality of the whisky.

One thing is for sure. The impact that sherry bodegas have on the whisky industry is enormous and will continue to be so. To quote David Robertson, "without the sherry casks and Spanish oak, it just wouldn’t be The Macallan."

Especially the last paragraph says it all for me. One should be very careful what you say and when. Especially when someone writes it down.

From http://www.maltadvocate.com/html/sc_sc.html

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Last edited by kallaskander on Wed Jun 28, 2006 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Iain » Tue Jun 27, 2006 8:40 pm

David Robertson, "without the sherry casks and Spanish oak, it just wouldn’t be The Macallan."

I'll drink to that. But not with a "Fine Oak" imposter!
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Fine oak range gets finer

Postby Danny » Wed Jun 28, 2006 12:50 am

Well, I have to weigh in. I love Macallan finished in sherry and would not want to see it ever removed from the market place. That said, I can not knock the Fine Oak range that I have tried.

True, it is not the Macallan that we know and love. But, taken as single malt on it's own and just drinking it for what it is, forgetting the comparison's to the sherry cask Macallans, cause it don't compare, the 15 year is not bad and the "experts" rate the 17 year old high, high, high. It would be like taking an unpeated malt out of Ardbeg and comparing it to the ten year old.

There are a number of single malt distilleries that engage in a number of different wood finishes in the marketing of their products and to retain or gain market share and they don't seem to get beat up. Macallan is no different, which do I prefer, the sherry cask finish, but I might find a fine oak that I like as well some day, and I am certainly going to look.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Elagabalus » Wed Mar 05, 2008 12:00 am

I was not impressed by the Fine Oak 10.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Muskrat Portage » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:15 am

I'm like Danny and Elagabalus, I find the 10 yo Fine Oak indifferent at best. It's an experiment to my mind and from the reactions of we three geographically widely dispersed Canadians, it is less than a complete success. I prefer the sherry finish and have no plans to replace the FO 10 yo or purchase any of the FO range.

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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:52 pm

Conversely I found the 12 FO nicer than the Sherry 10yo or the 12yo Elegancia.
And I would consider myself a sherry matured over bourbon person.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Lawrence » Sat Mar 08, 2008 6:59 pm

Speaking as a geographically widely dispersed Canadian I tried the Fine Oak 10 last night at a friends house and was surprised, it was not how I remembered when first launched. I liked it, it is a gentler dram than many but it is good.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Willie JJ » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:52 pm

[quote="Lawrence"]a geographically widely dispersed Canadian[/quote]
Lawrence that really doesn't sound healthy.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Willie JJ » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:54 pm

Strange. Why didn't the quote work?
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Lawrence » Sat Mar 08, 2008 8:01 pm

[quote="Willie JJ"]Strange. Why didn't the quote work?[/quote]

You're not geographically widely dispersed, that's the trick with WMF quotes.

I think you've broken the 'quote' Willie.
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Re: Finer Oak range gets finer

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Mar 08, 2008 11:12 pm

Lawrence:
You must get better bottlings out there.
:D
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