The Macallan brand, a global powerhouse and the embodiment of all things luxurious in the whisky world, can seem inaccessible and a bit too exclusive at times but nothing could be further from the truth.
Started by Alexander Reid in 1824, it typified farming life in the area at the time – farmers had been making whisky on their farms in the area for centuries, distilling their surplus barley during the quieter winter months.
This is a brand that James Bond drinks, sure, but it is also a brand that is 191 years old, the third largest producer of spirit in Scotland with an output of around 9.5million litres of spirit a year and has just had £100million committed to the building of a new distillery.
The Macallan brand itself is the culmination of what they call The Six Pillars. These guide the brand, the distillery and set the quality expectation so that every member of staff knows what they are aiming to achieve and create.
Today I am going to give you a quick snapshot of each.
- Spiritual Home; Easter Elchies House, built in 1700, lies at the heart of The Macallan estate.
- Curiously Small Stills; contribute to the distinctively rich, fruity ‘new make’ spirit of The Macallan.
- Finest Cut; we take only 16% of the final distillation from the spirit stills to fill into our oak casks. This is the best of the best.
- Exceptional Oak Casks; The Macallan spends more on sourcing, building, seasoning and caring for its casks than any other single malt whisky.
- Natural Colour; the rich range of colours in The Macallan whiskies is drawn only from the wood of our exceptional oak casks.
- The Macallan itself; the peerless spirit – one of the world’s greatest whiskies.
1. Spiritual Home.
Dating back over three hundred years and built out of locally quarried sandstone, The Macallan estate spans 390 acres, ninety of which are sown each year using their proprietary strain of barley, Minstrel.
In context, those ninety acres will one day yield 171,000 bottles of The Macallan.
The River Spey borders the estate and surrounding fields have sheep and highland cattle roaming around too. A drive or a wander round the place is both fascinating and picturesque.
2. Curiously Small Stills.
Scottish readers may or may not know this but The Macallan stills previously featured on the back of your £10 note.The smallest stills in Speyside, the 21 stills that make up The Macallan production are so designed to allow maximum contact between spirit and copper creating a rich, fruity and full-bodied flavours we all know and love from The Macallan.
3. Finest Cut.
Every distillery divides their spirit throughout the process with the resulting ‘cut’ being collected and filled into casks for maturation.
The Macallan only use the ‘finest’ 16% of every run, ensuring the highest of quality you’d expect from the brand, the new make spirit comes off the stills at 69.8% before being filled.
4. Exceptional Oak Casks.
I have written a lot about the commitment to oak The Macallan and The Edrington Group have but in brief – The Macallan commissioned research that found 60% of the flavour in whisky which is why The Edrington Group invest £10million in wood every year.
In a separate conversation with Gordon Motion, Master Blender for The Edrington Group, he said:
“Good spirit put into a poor cask will always make a poor whisky, but putting poor spirit into a good cask will inevitably create a good whisky. The wood is incredibly important, hence why American bourbon casks cost about £120 whereas Spanish sherry casks cost around £760.”
5. Natural Colour.
Should be a given, no? Well yes but in many cases whiskies get coloured to fit perceptions of darker whiskies symbolise superior quality. At The Macallan there is none of that. It is all natural and all gorgeous.
From light to incredibly dark mahogany, what you see is exactly how it came out of the casks.
6. The Macallan itself.
As a brand guy and a romantic I love the term ‘peerless spirit’ and could not agree more. There is something special here, something unique, whilst I’ve written a lot of words on it, there is also something unexplainable about both the brand and product.
Now, lets raise a glass and admire a few photos of the brand through the ages, mine’s a Ruby from The Macallan 1824 range, ta.