27 years old, distilled 7th May 1990, 53.6% abv, First-Fill Pedro Ximinex Butt, 414 bottles
The nose has a deep, rich tapestry of Seville oranges and tobacco leaves. There's also a cognac note. The mouthfeel is thin with no cling. The body has blood oranges, leather tobacco pouches, and a top note of sultanas. The finish is long - Seville oranges and hints of tobacco.
Water brings out thin rapidly expanding whorling that settles into brief mottling. The nose gains mandarins and hints of orange fruit gums. The deeper notes are still present, but the shift is to sweeter citrus. The body gains cinder toffee and loses the blood oranges. The leather is less, but the tobacco has increased a little. The finish is a little sweeter - gaining some mandarins.
A great example of a sherry maturation - and a superb dram for evenings by the fireside.
Macallan has an odd history with the Society. When they first bought casks, Macallan was publicly stating that they only used sherry casks. As they didn't want the Society casks to taste like Macallan, they only allowed the purchase of bourbon casks for a long time.
When the Society did publish a distillery list in the late 90's, Macallan were one of the suppliers who complained - they didn't want the SMWS bottlings to be identifiable as their produce. And yet, when this was launched in London's SMWS Kaleidescope bar it was at a Macallan tasting with an employee of Macallan hosting it. Quite the turnaround! It seems that Macallan have no problem with this bottle being discretely identified with them - which is a fine mark of quality!
I'll admit that Macallan isn't one of my favourite distilleries. I don't hate it, I don't love it - it merely is. I find some Macallans are superb and others are not to my preference. But this one's a hit - a masterpiece of balance with some very heavy flavours. Whiskies like this are rare simply because that balance is hard to find - you have to get the cask at exactly the right time. And that's what happened here.