There’s no doubt that whisky connoisseurship is on the rise. We’re seeing more custom, high end, limited edition releases now than at any point since we’ve been covering the space. Part of the boom in offerings comes out of the sheer growth of the premium and super premium whisky market. In 2012 the overall Scotch whisky category dropped by 2% in terms of volume but surged by 16% in value (source: Impact Databank). This change is a clear indicator in the growth at the top of the whisky pyramid. The good news for whisky lovers is that many of these special edition releases have been exceptional. We’re big fans of Glenfiddich’s Cask of Dreams, Diageo’s Classic Malt Collection, and the Highland Park Valhalla series. The bad news is that the amount of money now being charged for super premium whisky is almost limitless. Case in point is the newest offering from The Macallan: The Flask Edition. A super high end pairing of 22 year old whisky with a custom designed flask from Oakley.
The Macallan Flask Edition (43% ABV / 86 proof, $1500, flask only $900) is hard to talk about and not talk about the price. $1500 for a bottle of whisky and a flask puts this offering squarely out of reach of most whisky consumers. Aside from the price, The Macallan is only offering 400 of these packages for sale (the flask can be purchased separately online). It’s hard to decide which end of the equation to be perplexed about: could a flask really be worth $900, and is The Macallan really pitching a $600 bottle of 22 year old scotch? They aren’t the first – Lagavulin this year released their Lagavulin 21 Year Old 1991 – Limited Edition 2012, a spectacular whisky priced at $533. The Lagavulin offering sold out quickly even though it was extremely overpriced. But when it comes to this Macallan Flask Edition, one has to wonder if the set has been created for anyone where price is the prevailing issue.
For an extremely high end product, Oakley has done a superb job putting together a unique, striking product to accompany a special whisky release. The Flask is made with “5-axis machined aerospace grade aluminum with a food grade steel interior wrapped in carbon fiber composite.” The Flask is stunning, well designed, and really cool, and perhaps that’s the real point. This Flask release is much less about releasing a landmark whisky and much more about doing something memorable. With The Flask, The Macallan has created something that is undeniably cool, and then limited it so tightly with such a high price tag that most people will never get to experience it. The actual product aside, the coolness factor persists and helps give The Macallan, a brand that hasn’t classically appealed to a younger audience, a fresh coat of coolness paint and perhaps puts it on the radar screen of whisky drinkers who may not have really considering drinking The Macallan.
Coolness aside, this is a special release of The Macallan and so ultimately, the most important element here is what’s in the glass (or in this case, The Flask). Dark gold in color, this 22 year old single malt whisky has some nice aromatics. The nose combines light wood with dried orange, malt, and honey. The entry is flavorful, soft, and fairly delicate with a superb malt note that’s backed up and balanced quite nicely by spiced orange, lemon, honey, milk chocolate, and oak. There is a good complexity to the midpalate which has a cognac-like quality to it, along with a deep dried apricot note which is added to the mix. The finish for The Macallan The Flask is fairly short; the whisky absolutely vanishes from the palate leaving a hint of oak, spiced honey, and jammy dried fruit. There’s a high level of craftsmanship here with the maturation and aside from an unexpectedly short finish, the balance and integration of flavors is superb.
The whisky in The Macallan The Flask Edition is an extraordinarily delicate, elegant, and fairly subtle expression of The Macallan, whose subtlty and beauty would get completely lost drinking it out of a flask. Putting this whisky together with a big high impact flask just doesn’t make any sense. We’d argue that The Macallan The Flask isn’t as much a release for whisky lovers as it is a release for high-end drinkers, where money is no object and the sheer fact that this is priced so high and is so limited makes it attractive. As a whisky lover you sort of have to dislike The Flask a little bit – it’s like hearing about someone doing shots of Yamasaki 18 or Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac. The Macallan has done such a nice job of creating an elegant whisky, it’s a shame to think it’s going to be knocked back in a flask, no matter how cool that flask is.