Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask  |  A Personal Journey of Whisky Exploration

The Macallan distillery is well known in the realm of fine whiskies.

If you’ve got the money to splurge, the Macallan 18-year expressions are arguably some of the finest Speyside specimens on the market. Particularly, you may be interested to try Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask to see which suits your taste best.

I previously wrote about my initial encounter with the Macallan 18 Sherry Oak in another comparison. (It was a celebratory drink at a friend’s wedding.) The spirit left an indelible impression on those lucky enough to try it. Thankfully, I was one of them!

As a growing whisky nerd I was intrigued and eager to delve deeper into the Macallan lineage. Naturally, I found myself drawn to the Macallan 18 Double Cask variation.

Having formerly savoured the Macallan 12 Double Cask, the allure of the rarer 18-year expression became an irresistible proposition. So, I did what any eager Scotch lover would reasonably do. I saved my coin until I had enough to purchase myself a bottle.

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak Vs. Double Cask: Quick look comparison 

Bottle of Macallan 18 Sherry Oak single malt whisky
NoseDates, raisins, leather, cinnamon, oak.
PalateSweet orange, ginger, honey, dark chocolate, spices, oak.
MouthfeelCreamy, oily, and lightweight.
FinishTobacco, orange, chocolate, and persistent dark fruits.
Age18 years.
CasksJerez seasoned sherry oak barrels.
Strength43% ABV / 86 Proof
Price£375 / $450

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak
Bottle of Macallan 18 Double Cask whisky
NoseDried fruit, ginger, toffee, and baking spices.
PalateBaking spice, sultanas, raisins, ginger, vanilla, orange zest, honey.
MouthfeelSmooth, creamy, and delicate.
FinishMedium, oak, sherry spice, sultanas.
Age18 years.
CasksAmerican & European Oloroso Sherry Oak Casks
Strength40% ABV / 80 proof
Price£360 / $450

Macallan 18 Double Cask
Close view of Macallan 18 Sherry Oak whisky bottle beside packaging box on white table

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak Review 

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak unveiles a charming sensory experience from the moment it graces the glass. It features a stimulating variety of aromas and flavours that captivated me from the very beginning.

On the nose, a delightful medley of fragrances greets the senses. There’s a tantalizing blend of baking spices, including cinnamon and clove with just a touch of pepper. Dark fruits, such as succulent blackberries and plump currants, intertwine with an intriguing presence of fine leather. Amidst this symphony of scents, a gentle sweetness emerges, reminiscent of dates and raisins. 

On the palate, the Macallan 18 Sherry Oak continues to weave its spellbinding flavours. Citrus notes burst forth, enlivening the taste buds with a vibrant freshness. A delicate touch of ginger adds a subtle warmth, while the embrace of honey brings a smooth sweetness to the palate. Raisins and sultanas contribute to its fruity complexity. While most Speyside Scotch lacks smokiness, I sense a subtle impression of toasted oak alongside the interplay of baking spices and dark chocolate notes that provide a luxurious indulgence.

In terms of mouthfeel, Macallan 18 Sherry Oak has a simultaneously oily and creamy texture. Despite its richness, it maintains a remarkable lightness as it travels across my tongue. This harmonious interplay of textures enhances the overall enjoyment of the whisky, adding to its allure.

The finish of Macallan 18 Sherry Oak is quite substantial. Prepare yourself for its length and depth, with the flavours lingering gracefully for you to savour. Dried fruits continue to dance on the taste buds—accompanied by indulgent dark chocolate. A subtle hint of ginger adds a delicate spice, while the presence of tobacco imparts a fascinating earthiness. The zest of orange provides a final touch, leaving a citrusy note that elegantly concludes this extraordinary experience.

As you can tell, this bottle is pretty amazing stuff. As a self proclaimed ‘sherry head’ this whisky has a special place in my heart. (And my whisky shelf.) Let’s see how the Double Cask edition fairs.

Close view of Macallan 18 year old Double Cask Scotch whisky bottle

Macallan 18 Double Cask Review 

When comparing the Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask, many of the components seem similar at first. But after a while, the Double Cask emerges as a completely unique experience. Far less sherry forward, its double ageing process brings different nuance and complexity as I experienced in my tasting; written below.

On the nose, an inviting combination of dates and raisins immediately captures my attention, accompanied by the presence of oak that infuses the whisky with depth. Cinnamon and clove add a subtle spice, while dried fruits and ginger intermingle with hints of vanilla and cinnamon.

Interestingly, a touch of what seems to be green chili pepper provides a unique twist. The overall impression is one of sweetness, yet it offers a multifaceted bouquet. Notes of dry figs and cherries add concentrated scents. The brown and mellow tones give way to a progressively drier aroma, indicative of its age, while hints of sweet cream and cotton candy further enhance the whisky’s character.

On the palate, Macallan 18 Double Cask exhibits a surprisingly soft and rich character. Hints of spice, including clove, interplay with the essence of sweet orange and toasted mature oak, creating a harmonious flavour profile. Baking spices and raisins contribute to the overall complexity, while a dusted chocolate note and cacao add depth and richness.

The mouthfeel of Macallan 18 Double Cask mirrors that of its Sherry Oak counterpart—an exquisite combination of oiliness and creaminess, all while maintaining a well-balanced quality. But without the sherry influence, it feels much more lightweight and slightly easier ‘on the way down’.

Macallan 18 Double Cask’s finish is moderate in length, with the flavours of dried fruits, ginger, and orange zest gracefully embracing the palate. The whisky’s age is evident as the finish progresses, becoming more pronounced towards the end. Notes of tobacco, chocolate, and dried fruit intertwine, culminating to a satisfying crescendo.

As predicted, I have no regrets investing in this bottle of whisky. It offers a stunning drinking experience with beautifully rich notes, albeit with less sherry influence compared to its 18 year old sibling.

Let’s see how these two bottles stack-up against each other.

Macallan 18 Sherry Oak whisky beside bottle of Macallan 18 Double Cask whisky

Comparing Macallan 18 Sherry Oak Vs. Double Cask

Both Macallan 18 Sherry Oak and Macallan 18 Double Cask share certain similarities – all while offering distinct experiences that cater to different preferences. Having experienced both their commonalities and differences, I’ve compared their unique characteristics. Hopefully this will help you make an informed choice between each high-end bottle.

In terms of similarities, both whiskies exhibit a creamy texture, with a mild degree of oily viscosity. This velvety smoothness contributes to the ease with which you can enjoy both these exquisite whiskies.

However, it’s in their differences that their true personalities emerge.

The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak is aged exclusively in sherry barrels, boasting a sherry-forward flavour profile. It delivers a pronounced intensity, with prominent notes of dark fruits, baking spices, and rich oak. The sherry influence brings forth a delightful kick, adding depth and complexity to the whisky. This expression is well-suited for those seeking a bolder, more spice-infused experience. While still possessing some levity on the tongue, it has a bit more bite than its lighter counterpart.

On the other hand, Macallan 18 Double Cask presents a dual maturation process, combining American and European oak casks. This approach results in a softer, more approachable profile. It offers a harmonious balance of flavours, with nuances of citrus, ginger, honey, and toasted oak. While still complex and enjoyable, the Double Cask presents a more delicate character compared to the Sherry Oak expression.

Neither whisky has particularly high ABV. For those seeking a stronger dram like that of a cask strength, it is best to temper your expectations accordingly. However, given that both expressions are similarly priced, it may be worth the extra investment to indulge in the Macallan 18 Sherry Oak. Its sherry-forward profile provides a heightened pungency, making it a great value for special occasions.

Close view of Macallan 18 Sherry Oak single malt whisky bottle

Final Thoughts 

Certainly not your everyday sippers, Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask both serve as generously poignant gifts or special celebratory drams. The intriguing flavours and creamy textures of the two expressions make them highly approachable and enjoyable. 

If you prefer intensity and spice, The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak holds a particular allure with its sherry-forward zing. The creaminess does balance it out somewhat. But it does present a bolder, more pronounced experience for those who like a bit of attitude from their Scotch.

If you enjoy a more rounded profile, leaning to the sweeter side, then the Macallan 18 Double Cask is for you. While not overpowering, the bright flavour notes and uplifting aromas far outshine any pepperiness or spice. You have the artful blend of European and American oak casks to thank for that.

But are they worth the money? I would invariably say yes to both, but certainly not for casual daily drinking. (I think the price alone is indication enough!)

In general, the more a whisky ages, the rarer, and therefore more valuable, it is. But with these mid-range maturation levels, along with the overall fine craftsmanship and great flavour profiles, make either of these expressions a fair splurge for a good dram of Scotch.

Although, if you are looking for something similar without the hefty price tag, you may want to try the Macallan Rare Cask—or even the Glenfiddich 18.

Close view of two Glencairn drinking glasses with Scotch whisky in them on dark table

Author’s pick 

Of these two exceptional bottles, I preferred the Sherry Oak edition. It’s probably my preference for the signature sherried style that Macallan are renowned for. That, and that fact is just so damn tasty.

At the upper-end of Macallan’s core offering, both the 18 Sherry Oak and 18 Double Cask hold great value within their portfolio. Choosing between the two can be challenging, as each offers a unique drinking experience.

If you prefer bold and spice-infused flavours, Macallan 18 Sherry Oak is likely to captivate your taste buds. However, if you lean towards a more delicate and well-balanced profile, Macallan 18 Double Cask may be more appealing.

Sherry Oak 18Double Cask 18
Total 38/5031/50

Between Macallan 18 Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask, the former once again emerges as the clear winner. While both whiskies received high scores for their beautiful natural coloration, similar noses, and complex palates, the Sherry Oak expression reigns supreme.

Although the Double Cask showcases complexity, its overall lightness and rounded intensity proved to be its downfall (for me). Perhaps I have a bias, but its hard to resist the tingle of the sherry finishing, especially given the lack of peat and smokiness from the region. The Double Cask’s taste and finish fell slightly short compared to its sherry-infused counterpart, making it the weaker contender in my opinion.

While the Double Cask remains a good value for its price, it is difficult to resist the allure of the Sherry Oak’s intensity and the undeniable appeal of its fruity influence. For a second time, the Sherry Oak arises as the triumphant Scotch, enticing my palate with its rich flavours and unforgettable finish.

Cheese board of meats and fruit

Food Pairings

Grilled Salmon: The richness and oiliness of grilled salmon complement the soft and rich character of Macallan 18 Sherry Oak. The whisky’s hints of spice, clove, and toasted oak harmonize with the delicate flavours of the salmon, creating a delightful pairing that showcases both elements. Choose your seasonings accordingly when putting together your meal.

Dark Chocolate Truffles: The Double Cask’s flavours of oak, dark chocolate, and raisin find a perfect match in the velvety richness of dark chocolate truffles. The combination brings out the lusciousness and complexity of both the whisky and the chocolate, elevating the tasting experience to new heights.

Aged Gouda Cheese: The smooth, nutty flavours of aged Gouda cheese offer a delightful contrast to the softness of the Sherry Oak. The whisky’s baking spices and honey harmonize with the cheese’s complex, slightly sweet notes, resulting in a pairing that showcases the depth of both.

Spiced Pecans: The warming spices in the Sherry Oak find companionship in spiced pecans. The whisky’s hints of ginger and baking spices resonate with the aromatic flavours of the pecans, creating a complementary balance that delights the senses.

Exterior view of the Macallan whisky distillery in Speyside Scotland

The ‘Rolls Royce’ of whisky

The Macallan distillery, nestled in the picturesque region of Speyside, Scotland, is renowned for its commitment to craftsmanship and unrivalled cask maturation. Known for producing exceptional single malt whiskies, Macallan takes pride in its meticulous selection of casks and the influence they impart on the final product.

The Macallan 18 Sherry Oak, as the name suggests, is matured exclusively in sherry seasoned oak barrels. This distinctive choice of cask bestows upon the whisky a robust and pronounced character, showcasing rich, fruity notes and a delightful intensity. 

On the other hand, the Macallan 18 Double Cask undergoes a unique maturation process, utilizing a combination of both American and European oak casks. This approach results in a whisky that exudes a harmonious balance and a softer, more approachable profile.

Both whiskies share a common thread of creamy textures, which contribute to their overall richness. But do not be fooled by their similarities. Their divergent maturation processes result in unique narratives for whisky enthusiasts to explore.

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