We did it! Well, technically speaking, we didn’t, Angus MacRaild did. But we commissioned the tasting notes and paid for the bottle. But the question on most people’s minds would be “why”.
Why We Commissioned The World’s First Tasting Notes on Private Eye
There are three reasons we commissioned these tasting notes. Firstly, Private Eye is a bottle that holds a very personal connection to Mark – it was one of the first bottles he sold as a whisky auctioneer almost 10 years ago.
Secondly, and as any regular readers of our blog will already appreciate, we at Mark Littler LTD are very interested in the ‘taboo’ areas of whisky: collecting and investing. While many writers appear to scorn this new and rapidly growing side of the market, we embrace it. Although some may think that this new demographic is damaging the industry by pushing bottles out of the reach of the average drinker, the reality is that they are only responding to products specifically produced and marketed for them to collect, not drink.
While it’s easy to criticise those who act differently to you, the fact remains there is almost no education or guideane for people who want to buy whisky bottles for investment purposes. How is someone meant to make a well grounded and educated investment if they have no idea about what to buy? To this end we have just released our first in depth report analysing and commenting on the data specifically for Macallan Private Eye. And what better way to celebrate the release of this report than by opening a bottle of it?
Which brings us nicely onto our final point: we like drinking whisky. To have the chance to try Private Eye is a unique opportunity, especially as prices continue to rise for this legendary bottle. It also feels right that there is now an ‘official’ set of tasting notes for Private Eye, something which has been lacking for over 25 years now.
Why Didn’t We Write The Notes
Let’s be frank here. We like drinking whisky, but our area of expertise lies in the valuation and sale of whisky. Angus MacRaild on the other hand is one of the most respected ‘noses’ in the whisky industry and is also a contributor to Whisky Fun – arguably the most respected source of whisky tasting notes on the planet.
So at this point we hand over to Angus and let him do the talking…
Macallan Private Eye Tasting Notes
Rather typical ‘old style sherried Macallan’ in profile at first. This funny combination of leaf mulch and cellar earth which makes you think of freshness and mustiness simultaneously. Beyond that there’s various typical aromas of sultanas, fruit loaf, aged cognac, walnut oil and dark chocolate. A very easy and pleasantly ‘decadent’ style which to a contemporary nose probably screams ‘age’, whereas at the time this was probably par for the course to drinkers familiar with Macallan 18yo. Globally I find it very attractive, clean and elegantly sherried.
Drier and more assertive than the nose would suggest. More pointedly on wet leaves, chewing tobacco, dark fruits stewed with spices and parts that would start to nod towards game meats and bouillon stock. Also some hessian, more bitter dark chocolate and slightly ‘Asian’ aspects like dried lime peel and five spice. There’s a level of complexity that holds up rather well here, although it’s lacking in power and hobbled by the bottling ABV to an extent – which makes it feel a tad tea-ish and meandering after a while.
Medium in length, more sultanas, burnt raisins, more impressions of old cognac, booozy fruit cake and bitter chocolate. It just needs more power is all.
Stylistically, for me, this sits somewhere between a mid-1990s official 18yo and some of the early 1980s official vintage bottlings such as the 1963. You feel aspects of both eras coming through, which is very likely due to the composition, which as we all know contains a cask of 1961. There’s many attractive aspects about this whisky: it’s easiness, sense of opulent pleasure and clear influence from terrific sherry casks are all present. What hobbles it is the old fashioned bottling strength which feels undeniably a little feeble at times. Essentially, it’s a bottling from a different era with different ideas, tastes and priorities about whisky. For me what really stands out is the quality of the sherry and the overall feeling of ‘ luscious old style Macallan’, however, that’s a quality that can be found in numerous far superior and far cheaper bottlings. To me, this Private Eye remains an artefact of curiosity, but certainly not essential from a drinker’s perspective.
What Are We To Make Of The Tasting Notes?
Our predicted score for the Private Eye was 86-88 – and it landed bang in the middle. We need to remember that while some bottles of Private Eye sell now for almost £9,000, it was a mass market, £36 a bottle, release. As a result the score is not surprising at all.
What this rather average score also proves to highlight is something we have been saying for a long time: quality has no impact on price. Or, looked another way, there is the value of the liquid (to a drinker etc) and then the value of the bottle as a whole (taking into account scarcity, market performance, history etc) to a collector.
These two approaches to value are both correct, but produce wildly different valuations and is something that we go into more detail about in the video below.
Sell Your Macallan Private Eye
Do you have a bottle of Private Eye that would you like to sell? Head over to this page to see how we can help you get the most for your bottle.