As the whisky drinker demographic expands, the usual marketing tricks that we see in seemingly unrelated products will inevitably creep into the whisky business. The Macallan has long been synonymous with a distinct character of spirits finished in sherry casks. We reviewed a sherried example, the 12 year, recently. Clearly someone at the Macallan was a little sensitive about their “sherry monster” image. Expanding the product line with a tuned down product for the masses would seem like a very natural business plan (Fine Oak is matured in a mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks). After all, the gap between the cheap grocery store shelf scotches and the premium aged scotches is a bit of a grey area. The Macallan launched their Fine Oak 10 to compete with premium scotches at a price point that will keep them out of the glass case at the grocery store.
If a beverage is claiming to be lighter and easier drinking, it has no value if it is merely a diluted version of the original. It has to have a sense of balance in its own right, and still feel like a complete beverage. Macallan Fine Oak achieves this primarily by the long, dry and smooth finish that persists and remains smooth long after you’ve swallowed. The scents and flavours given off by a dram of Fine Oak will be welcoming to any whisky drinker. They are a little boring but very pleasant. Imagine a kitchen several hours after a strudel came out of the oven – a hint of grain and baking spices. This scotch feels very classy, and is a good argument for elegance in spirits in general. I can’t say I would buy it over Highland Park 12 for myself, but for a friend I just might.