Saturday, January 30, 2016

An Evening of Rare Distinction: The Macallan Rare Cask

An obsession with wood, and a passion for unrivalled craftsmanship and quality since 1824 come together in an exquisite masterpiece...The Macallan Rare Cask.

The Macallan Rare Cask is among the most precious and scarce in the world of single malt whisky, a true rarity specially crafted by The Macallan's Master Whisky Maker from a small batch of maturing casks and a decadent addition to the legendary core range of expressions. In one memorable dinner at Blackbird, The Macallan Rare Cask shared its precious secrets and opened up a whole new world of possibilities for an evening of rare distinction...

Wood defines at least 60% of the flavor, character, and color of the whisky, its very essence, and The Macallan Rare Cask draws from a broad selection of cask profiles, including handmade Spanish and American oak casks from established bodegas. The expression's rarity is underscored by the fact that some of the selected casks will never be used again, with only 1% of the casks maturing at The Macallan Distillery identified by The Master Whisky Maker used to create The Macallan Rare Cask. Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan's Master Whisky Maker, described the newest and rarest expression's tedious process, starting with identifying a selection of casks that can truly be called rare, as "each of the cask styles result in different character, so each imparts its own distinct influence on the final whisky." With its distinct and stunningly sculpted heavy glass decanter design inspired by The Macallan's iconic triangle, you just know this is special. And rare...

"The Rare Cask represents the gateway to our highly prestigious and inspirational range, The Macallan 1824 Master Series. This new release mirrors the solid foundations that make up The Macallan, with our exceptional mastery of wood reflected through the quality of our casks," says Geoff Kirk, Managing Director.

The selection of rare casks results in a truly unique and exquisite expression, with its deep amber hue and unmistakably pronounced woody notes. That evening, The Macallan also showcased their premium Limited Release (L) and The 1824 Series (R) matured in sherry seasoned oak casks.

Throughout the evening, The Macallan served their own take on my favorite cocktail, the classic Old-Fashioned, a soothing blend with The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old, Angosturra bitters and Canadian maple syrup replacing the usual sugar, garnished with an orange peel. Each sip of the distinct velvety smooth profile of The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old brings layers of sweet toffee with hints of wood smoke and spice, pairing well with the maple syrup. It's a classic Old-Fashioned, made even better with The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old and Canadian maple syrup. 

Later that evening, Keith Nair (L), The Macallan Brand Trainor, and Issa Litton (R) shared tips on the proper tasting of The Macallan's wide range of expressions, from the color, to sniffing, and sipping the precious liquid. Four expressions were sampled that evening, each one paired with a special dish by Chef Colin Mackay, including The Macallan Rare Cask.

Our tasting flight began with The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old, followed by the The Macallan Edition No. 1, The Macallan Rare Cask, and The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old, each one distinct from the other. Sampling the range of expressions is an experience in itself.

As guests sampled the different expressions, the kitchen at Blackbird fired up for the dinner service. The Macallan Rare Cask Dinner pairing featured dishes of noted chef Colin Mackay, the chef behind Sala and People's Palace. With The Macallan Rare Cask and a wide range of expressions, dinner had to be equally special.

And Blackbird's Chef Colin Mackay did not disappoint, starting with the Spiced Parsnip Veloute, Seared Scallop and Caviar, a rich, creamy and flavorful soup paired with The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old. The thick and creamy broth, punctuated by the sweet, earthy, and nutty notes with just a whisper of spice from the parsnips, and perfectly finished by the scallop and caviar is just the first course. The rich broth coats the mouth with lingering flavors, as The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Year Old adds its own layers of balanced flavors with its distinct sweet toffee, vanilla, and smoky hints.

Chef Colin Mackay then served a rustic yet rich souffle, his Beaufort and Mature Cheddar Souffle with Pear Truffle Honey Rocket, delivering a medley of complex and contrasting notes paired with The Macallan Edition No. 1. The richness of the cheeses are tempered by the pear truffle honey rocket salad for balanced flavors, perfectly finished by an equally complex expression from the distillery's New edition series, The Macallan Edition No. 1, with hints of tart apples leading to deep woody and smoky notes.

For the main course, Chef Colin Mackay served his Juniper Roasted Red Deer Fillet, Smoked Potato Puree, Fine Beans, Roast Onions, and Cranberry Jus paired with The Macallan Rare Cask. Imported from Scotland, the tender and juicy red deer fillet was incredibly fork-tender despite being lean. The flavors were also clean with just a hint of gamey notes, perfectly tempered by the sweet cranberry jus.

The smoked potato puree, beans and onions completed the flavors. The flavors are rich and robust, and when paired with The Macallan Rare Cask, with its deep, rounded yet mild spicy and chocolate hints, the flavors just blend seamlessly. After a bite, take a sip and let it linger in your mouth, and enjoy the blend of vibrant flavors. The Macallan Rare Cask is itself a complex expression with seemingly contrasting hints of different flavors, starting with bold and spicy notes, like cinnamon and nutmeg,  followed by a mellow vanilla and chocolate hint, occasional bursts of citrus, and finished by a smooth woody smokiness that lingers long after the first sip. It is, in a sense, a rare masterpiece, a culmination of the selection of casks infusing its own character and flavors. The expression clearly has that rare elegance despite its complexity, making it stand out from the usual single malts. With its complex notes, The Macallan Rare Cask is best enjoyed neat, or with a gentle splash of water, or an ice ball.

For dessert, Chef Colin Mackay served his rich and indulgent Dark Chocolate, Burnt Butter Semifrodo, Pink Peppercorn Popcorn, and Salted Caramel paired with the velvety smooth The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old. Indulgently rich and creamy, with the bold notes of the dark chocolate tempered by the salted caramel and burnt butter, perfectly finished by the intense raisin, vanilla, and chocolate notes of the The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old. The Macallan Fine Oak 15 Year Old, matured in sherry and bourbon seasoned oak casks, cleanses the palate, leaving a fine layer of mild floral and chocolate notes that prepares you for yet another bite of Chef Colin Mackay's dessert.

Later that evening, another flight of The Macallan's four expressions, including The Macallan Rare Cask, seemed appropriate, quickly followed by a third and fourth flight too, getting you in the perfect groove for the after dinner party at Blackbird.  

On its own, The Macallan Rare Cask is definitely a worthy expression from the legendary distillery, and sampling three other signature expressions gives you a better appreciation of the mastery and passion behind The Macallan Rare Cask. One memorable evening with the rarest of the very best... and I just can't wait for another encounter with one of the world's best single malt whiskies.

For more information on The Macallan, visit their website at and theor FB Page at

The Blackbird at the Nielsen Tower is located at the Ayala Triangle Gardens, Salcedo Village, Makati or call 828-4888 for inquiries.

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