07 Dec 2011
Macallan 1955 (Campbell, Hope & King)
Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Macallan
I’m excited to say WhiskyNotes is 3 years old today!
To celebrate, let’s try this Macallan 1955 that was sampled by Luc Timmermans some time ago. It’s one of many versions bottled by Campbell, Hope & King and imported in Italy by Rinaldi. A little bit of history…
You can find similar versions distilled in almost any year between +/- 1947 and 1962, all bottled in the 1960’s and 1970’s at 80° proof (46%). They don’t have an age statement on the bottle but usually the cardboard box states “over 15 years old” (I wouldn’t be surprised though if that were just generic boxes).
A couple of changes happen in 1962: Campbell, Hope & King is closed and Macallan starts bottling / distributing directly, the alcohol volume goes down to 43% and Macallan starts to add a bottling year (e.g. 1964/1982). Although at that time they are already bottled at 18 years, it’s not until the 1967 vintage that they officially put the blue “18 years” ribbon on the box and the (neck) label. A legend is born! With those official 18yo’s, we’re halfway the 1980’s and Rinaldi (taken over in 1983) is replaced by Giovinetti as the new importer for Italy.
In short, this Macallan 1955 is a predecessor of the famous Macallan 18yo’s. It was bottled around 1973 and should be around 18 years old.
Macallan 1955 (80° proof, OB +/- 1973, Campbell Hope & King, Rinaldi import, 75 cl)
Nose: wow. Indeed it’s the legendary combination of luscious sherry and faint phenolic notes. The sherry richness starts with all kinds of dried fruits (mainly figs, sultanas and dates but also quinces and raspberries) and goes to honey and beeswax (quite special, I associate this more with bourbon maturation). There’s also plenty of mint liqueur and eucalyptus, as well as old furniture, old paint, old books, tobacco… All of this covered in a veil of ashes and the softest hints of tar. Balances between sweet and dry notes. Stunning complexity. Mouth: a lot of sherry. Especially the chocolate / coffee combo stands out, as well as jammy fruits, raisins and relatively soft spices and herbs (hints of cough syrup). Leather notes as well as a slightly metallic hint of shoe polish (OBE?). Mint again. Puffs of smoke. Finish: long, fairly dry with dark chocolate and spices.
The mint liqueur, beehive notes and perfect sherry give this a heavenly nose. The palate was more heavily sherried than expected and quite chocolaty – needless to say it’s perfectly faultless sherry. Oh my, what a delight. Hard to find these days and very expensive. All pre-18yo vintages usually fetch between € 1000 and 1500.