It may have only been the Queen’s coronation last week, but the two bottles from The Macallan to celebrate her 60 years on the throne have already sold out faster than Speedy Gonzales can squeak: “Arriba, arriba!”
The special Coronation bottlings – called Cecil Beaton and Julian Calder after the photographers who took the iconic portrait photos on the bottles’ labels – were priced at £350 for the pair of 350ml bottles. The former was matured in American oak Sherry seasoned casks, while the latter was matured in Spanish ex-Sherry casks.
With no age statement on either, some folks took to questioning the high price tag for the latest offering from The Macallan. But, like many whiskies which emerge from this company (the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee bottling, for instance) the limited 1953 bottles were quickly snapped up by hungry investors.
And so, while you may not be able to buy the bottles on the store shelves anymore, I thought I’d put my thoughts out there on the whiskies regardless, in case you happen to see them at an upscale bar or have a friend who has bought one for drinking, rather than for investment.
The Macallan Coronation Bottling: Cecil Beaton: 58.1%:
(C): Golden Butter
(N): Surprisingly appealing at first nose despite high strength – half floral, half sherried. Nice caramel note in there too but with a slight dryness that really reminded me of caramel tea (yes, this does exist). There’s also a hint of warm grapes and (after I took a sip and went back to smell it) a teeny citrussy note (oranges and lemons) emerged. With water, I got hay and honey notes, along with the smell of straw hats left in the sunshine, plus a nice burst of zestiness.
(P): On the palate, this was malty with a wave of porridge and brown sugar at first. I could imagine rivers of melting brown sugar over warm oatmeal on this. A breakfast dram to begin. With water, it was very delicate with nice buttery, vanilla and honey notes (slightly like honey nut Cheerios).
(F): A hint of sourness right at the back of the tongue with a dry mid-palate and buttery yet slightly cardboardy sweetness. With water, cereal boxes and tea.
In conclusion, I loved that while this came from a Sherry-seasoned cask, it was still really fresh and creamy: it definitely made me more interested in the influence of Sherry, which I’m not always a fan of. There was a wonderful, nutty cereal note to it that made it quite moreish.
The Macallan Coronation Bottling: Julian Calder: 55.7%:
(C): Brown sugar (to the max – The Stones were playing in my head as soon as I saw this)
(N): Heavy, deep Sherry with loads of dried fruits (more dried cherries than the typical raisins I thought). You can note its oomph from afar. This was followed by the smell of the inside of an empty dark brown sugar bag and some fresh fruit cake. With water, dark red fruits (raspberries and cranberries) added to the berry melange, while something tart and wine-like hit the back of the nose and a dash of an earthy, smoky note emerged.
(P): Rich on the tannins with black licorice overtones. It was really drying at full strength with a slight bite at the tip of the tongue and heavy fruit notes that washed over the palate. With water, it was chewy and drying but some of those heavy-duty notes broke up a bit. Loads of berried fruits and slightly bitter.
(F): Blackberries with sea salt and treacle. With water, a big bag of red licorice.
To conclude, this wasn’t quite as much for me as it was a heavy Sherry bomb and I prefer something a bit less weighty on the palate usually. One for those that like their whisky dark and their music on full blast.