Blind Tasting Challenge - NAS vs. age statement

NAS vs. Age Statement Blind Tasting Challenge: Macallan 10yo Fine Oak vs. Macallan Gold

Blind Tasting Challenge - NAS vs. age statementIn early 2015 whisky blogger and malt maniac Oliver Klimek set out to do a wide-scale comparison between NAS and age statement expressions, all done blind and with 35 tasters per pair of whisky. The results are very interesting with a near-draw between the entry-level malts and their NAS counterparts. Head over to his site dramming.com for all details on the challenge and the results!

Here are my original tasting notes on the first pair of whiskies: The Macallan 10 yo Fine Oak vs. their NAS Gold edition. All notes are original as written during the blind tasting phase.

A5A: Macallan 10yo Fine Oak
Distillery: Macallan
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014
Age: 10yo
Limitation: –
Casks: Bourbon+Sherry
Alcohol: 40%
chillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
straw
We’re back to the very light and faint noses. Classic style, vanilla, honey, a light creamy pudding note, eucalyptus, glucose-laden tinned fruits, sweet white grapes, dark oranges and faint notes of malt. Getting less fruity and quite a bit more malty as time progresses. The palate is equally thin and watery in regards to aromatic components but quite a bit more nippy than anticipated. Noticeable alcohol with custard, honey, sweet malt, a dry herbal component underneath, black pepper and ginger. The medium long finish has a dominating alcoholic note at first upon swallowing with ginger, honey, a malty note which gets more and more pronounced as time goes on and a slight bitter yeasty note at the end.
Verdict:
A very light and unobtrusive malt, as basic as they come. 75 points is the “average” point on the 100 points malt score scale I’m using and this one sits right on top of it. Nothing wrong with it, an easy-sipping, casual dram, but don’t expect greatness.
Score: 75/100
(Nose: 74 Palate: 76 Finish: 75)

A5B: Macallan Gold
Distillery: Macallan
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2014
Age: 10yo
Limitation: –
Casks: Sherry
Alcohol: 40%
chillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour: 
straw with a light golden hue
The nose is a bit more herbal and more mineral in style than A5A, but also very light and fragile but with more alcohol in the foreground. Vanilla and honey in the base but less of the sweet fruits, more malt, custard and stewed pears with cloves and hints of oak. The palate is a toned-down, more mineral and less sweet version of A5A, just like the nose. Very light in style too and the aromas have a tough time fighting against the alcohol. Vanilla and honey – all there, custard, a dry, herbal note is present as well, malt, pepper, diluted juiced raisins and a mineral note. The medium long finish has a sweetness of honey and malt, quite dry with a herbal touch and also yeast at the very end.
Verdict:
Quite a bit darker, more herbal and minerally in style than A5A, making it less lively and interesting. I won’t take a chance at guessing the distillery with these two and I’m also not sure as to which one might be the NAS expression, though I’m leaning towards A5A as the NAS one since it’s the more lively one and A5B has a touch more old wood character without really exhibiting wood character, if that makes any sense at all… Certainly the most challenging pair.
Score: 73/100
(Nose: 74 Palate: 73 Finish: 73)

Afterthoughts:
Well, those two were really tough to guess. Both very light in style, made and designed to please and not to overwhelm even the most casual of whisky drinker I don’t care for either of those. For 20€ I might pick one up for beginner tastings as the starting dram but to me they’re certainly not worth the 70+€ for the 10yo or the nearly 50€ for the NAS version. Clearly a case of where the hype and marketing sweet-talking about a distillery gets completely torn to pieces in a blind tasting setup. Sorry. Or rather, not sorry.

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