As publicity in the whisky industry goes, no other single malt brand does it quite as well as the Macallan. Having done multiple marketing campaigns that evokes a mix of the prestigious-ness and playfulness of drinking whisky with the craft and traditional aspect of it. Regarded by many as the most famous and prestigious single malt whisky brand in the world, they are currently one of the few brands that hold tasting/publicity events in Jakarta, Indonesia. The event is a 4-day affair, from 18-21 October 2016, at the Westin International, the tallest hotel in Jakarta.
The event itself was also held as the official release of the Macallan Double Cask 12yo, which was the first age-statement release from the Macallan in almost a decade, (With the exception of the Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars decanter collection, which carried ancient age statements and ludicrous price tags) which made us all quite excited.
We arrived at 8.30 for the last session of the second night (19th October 2016) and were greeted to a photo booth outside the event hall. Inside, there was a gallery of memorabilia essential to the Macallan, including a set of empty Oak casks, their standard and limited edition bottlings in glass shelves, a scent bar (a bar containing scents that visitors could smell to associate with their whisky profiles), and a plethora of graphics displaying Macallan philosophies.
Arriving inside, guests were welcomed by hosts, each carrying an iPad to show us a quick video about the six pillars of the Macallan, and in the end of the video, we were supposed to play a mini-game, which we can win for cocktail coupons to be traded at the bar. Although it was super easy for us, it was an enternaining and stimulating way for guests to try and remember the six pillars, which is a framework of core values that the Macallan swears by.
Each of the guests was given coupons for three whisky cocktails that were reimagined to suit using the different expressions of Macallan as base ingredient. The cocktails were: Old fashioned (Macallan Double Cask 12 y.o.), Whisky Sour (Macallan Sherry Oak 12 y.o.), and Copa (Macallan Fine Oak 12 y.o.).
At 9 o’clock, we were ushered in to the tasting room and seated to our tables. On our tables were 4 tasting glasses with different expressions from the Macallan, and one type of bite-sized canapé paired with each glass, and a tasting notes booklet of what was on offer. The speakers, Randall Tan and Keith Nair (brand ambassadors for Edrington South East Asia) introduced themselves and walked us through the tasting. They also walked us through short videos of how whisky is made, and of sherry casks being made in Vasyma cooperage in Jerez, Spain.
The tasting offered what I would call a diagonal tasting, which is a tasting with a mix of horizontal and vertical nature. Presented as horizontal tasting (all being the same age, with the exception of the NAS Whisky Maker’s Edition) that started from the whisky that offered the lightest to the most intense profile (being quite vertical in nature). With the whisky market being quite young in Indonesia, the whiskies only included the core 12 year olds, and a travel retail exclusive. (from left to right):
- 12yo Fine Oak, paired with a smoked salmon ball
- 12yo Double Cask, paired with a grilled chicken and cheese ball (similar to a chicken cordon bleu)
- 12yo Sherry Oak, paired with a spinach quiche, and;
- The Whisky Maker’s Edition, paired with a tiramisu in a shot glass.
Based on this, it’s pretty obvious that the Macallan’s intention is to put the Double Cask in between the Fine Oak and the Sherry Oak, in terms of flavor intensity, with the Fine Oak being the lightest and gentlest, and the Whisky Maker’s Edition being the most intense with sherry aromas. Of all the pairings, I found the Fine Oak and smoked salmon pairing to be the best. The salty, briny and smoky aroma of the smoked salmon is not only balanced very well with the delicate, light profile of the whisky, but also compliments it by bringing out its toffee, perfume-like (for lack of a better description) sweetness. The tiramisu and Whisky Maker’s Edition pairing came a distant 2nd place. For me, the pairing worked quite well, the deep notes of sherry and fruitcake complemented the richness of the cream and coffee flavours. However, all of the food items should have (and could have) been made at a much higher standard, especially if it was to complement the level of craftsmanship and quality in the Macallan.