“Charles MacLean is Scotland’s leading whisky expert”
-The Times, March 2010
When a great connaisseur like Charles MacLean agrees to taste your whiskey, any whiskey maker – no matter how well known – is going to be a little apprehensive. He’s published ten books on whisky and what Mr. MacLean says, goes.
When a friend-of-a-friend asked Mr MacLean to taste our American single malt whiskeys, we were nervous and honestly a tiny bit skeptical that it would actually happen. It turns out that ‘Charlie’ is both a malt whiskey scholar and a gentleman as sure enough he wrote us back and sent through a full tasting profile and opinion of Batches No. 1, 2 and 3 from our Evergreen Collection.
Charles MacLean’s personal note – especially the comment, “your malts have a clear American identity but are more subtle and complex”- makes us extremely proud of our craft. Below are the highlights on each of our American single malt whiskeys he tasted; scroll down to read his detailed tasting notes.
Tasting Notes by Charles MacLean, June 2020
NAS American Single Malt @ 50%ABV
Appearance: Burnished copper – new U.S. oak barrels. No beading, but good legs.
Aroma: A mellow nose-feel, with some initial prickle. The top notes are immediately citric – fresh orange juice and zest – edging towards fruit salad, with pineapple. Only gradually do planed oak shavings emerge as base notes. A drop of water moves the oak forward and introduces a trace of vanilla and baking spice.
Taste: The texture is smooth and lightly oily, mouth-drying in the finish; the taste sweet to start, finishing slightly bitter (Seville orange, orange peel), with a shake of chilli pepper. A little water introduced an acidic note (citric again), and a lightly mouth-cooling, minty aftertaste.
Comment: Young and fresh, but fully matured, this is an impressive single malt, nicely balanced and not dominated by oak.
NAS American Single Malt @ 50%ABV
Appearance: Burnished copper, even deeper that Batch 1. New U.S. oak barrels, finished in Nicaraguan ex-rum and Heaven Hill ex-Bourbon barrels. Excellent beading; distinctly viscous; good legs.
Aroma: A mellow nose-feel, with light prickle. The highly fragrant top notes are of almond oil, backed by buttery vanilla sponge.
Again, no obvious masking by oak, although oak scents are increased by a drop of water.
Taste: The texture is smooth and oily; the taste sweet to start, drying out and finishing slightly bitter (Seville orange) and spicy. All these components are enlarged by a drop of water.
Comment: A big, powerful whiskey, given added complexity by the finishing casks.
5YO American Single Malt @ 45%ABV
Appearance: Burnished copper, with rubious lights. New and refill ex-bourbon U.S. oak barrels, finished in port pipes.
Aroma: A mild nose-feel. The aroma is somewhat closed to start and the aromas well-integrated, understated. Oak is to the fore, but balanced by milk chocolate, berry-fruits and a very faint trace of red wine or grape juice. More oaky at reduced strength.
Taste: The texture is very smooth, the taste sweet and lightly tannic, with some spice in the finish, and a suggestion of almond marzipan in the aftertaste. Again, a little water brings up all these characteristics, and introduces chocolate to the aftertaste.
Comment: Understated and very easy to drink at 45%Vol. I picked up the light vinous notes before remembering it had been finished in port-wood. You have retained distillery character while developing mature characteristics.
Interested in testing and improving your whiskey tasting nose and palate? One sure way is to taste our whiskeys while reading Mr. MacLean’s tasting notes. Can you discern everything he lists? Do you experience something new or different? That’s OK, as he notes, “ there’s no such thing as an ‘absolute’ tasting note!”
Just getting started with whiskey tasting? Check out our How to Taste Whisky Guide.
About Charles Maclean: Charles MacLean is a writer whose special subject is Scotch whisky, about which he has published ten books to date, including the standard work on whisky brands, Scotch Whisky and the leading book on its subject, Malt Whisky, both of which were short-listed for Glenfiddich Awards.