Scotch whiskies come from five regions in Scotland - Campbeltown, Highland, Islay, Lowland and Speyside. The geography and terroir of each region lends its own unique characteristics to each style of whisky and thereby emerges the distinct flavour profiles of the whiskies of each region.
Today we take you to Speyside – a region that straddles the river Spey and boasts the highest concentration of whisky distilleries anywhere in this world. One of the original farm distilleries of Speyside is The Macallan. It was one of the first distillers in Scotland to be legally licensed (in 1824) and since then has gone on to build a reputation as one of the world’s leading single malt whiskies.
The Making of The Macallan
The original Macallan plant, founded by a barley farmer and school teacher Alexander Reid, was a wooden shed with two stills. It was increased to five stills (two wash, three spirit) in 1954 and the process continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s with the total number of stills reaching 21 by 1975.
From its founding, through the subsequent owners of the distillery, The Macallan has been recognised for its outstanding quality above all else. The creation of the spirit draws on the vital contributing influences of Spain, North America and Scotland, and of their respective natural raw materials, combined with traditional methods and craftsmanship.
The makers believed in the fusion of the oily, heavy, new make style and ex-Sherry casks saw The Macallan, under owners Edrington (since 1999) become the first distillery to create bespoke casks: selecting specific trees (predominantly in northern Spain), specifying the length and nature of drying, type of coopering, the liquid used for seasoning (oloroso) and the duration of that process.
In 2013 its owners announced that a completely new, £100m distillery was to be built. The new distillery – with a distinctive subterranean design – was commissioned on 9 November 2017 and opened officially in May 2018, at a final cost of £140m.
A Brief History
1543 Duncan Grant is granted the lands of Easter Ellochy (Elchies) by the Bishop of Moray.
1700 Easter Elchies House is built for Captain John Grant.
1732 John Grant’s son Patrick, became an eminent lawyer, later ennobled as Lord Elchies.
1759 Patrick’s son, John Grant, sells Easter Elchies House and estate to the 5th Findlater & Seafield.
1789 Thomas White (snr.), the eminent landscape designer, prepares a plan for the Easter Elchies estate.
1824 Alexander Reid, a local farmer, leases eight acres from the Earl of Seafield to establish The Macallan distillery.
1841 Date of the oldest Macallan bottle held in our archives.
1847-1861 Reid is succeeded by the partnership of Priest and Davidson
1857 Work begins to extend Easter Elchies House. By 1861, a further 29 rooms have been added.
1868 Jamed Stuart purchases The Macallan, buying the distillery land from Seafield Estates in 1886.
1892 The Macallan is bought by Roderick Kemp, widely considered the architect of The Macallan’s rise to prominence outside Scotland.
1909 On Kemp’s death, his descendants, the Shiach and Harbinson families, manage the business through a Trust.
1946 The Trust gives way to a private limited company, R Kemp, Macallan-Glenlivet Ltd.
1950 Sales of bottled Macallan begin to rise.
1961 Easter Elchies House, in a state of disrepair, and the adjoining estate, are bought by The Macallan.
The Six Pillars
The spirit of Macallan (pun intended) is attributed by its makers to six pillars that form the foundation stones for the character of whisky and the making the spirit.
SPIRITUAL HOME: The 485-acre Macallan Estate lies in an area of natural beauty and is farmed sensitively. And at its heart is Easter Elchies House, built in 1700 from locally quarried sandstone for Captain John Grant.
CURIOUSLY SMALL STILLS: The Macallan’s Curiously Small Stills are amongst the smallest on Speyside. Their unique size and shape give the spirit maximum contact with the copper, helping to concentrate the ‘new make’ spirit and provide the rich, fruity, full-bodied flavours characteristic of The Macallan.
FINEST CUT: They carefully select the finest quality spirit from their stills to ensure the best single malt whisky. This clear colourless spirit is selected at just under 70?V and ensures their signature viscous mouth-feel and fruity aroma and flavour.
EXCEPTIONAL OAK CASKS: Their exceptional oak casks are the single greatest contributor to the outstanding quality, natural colours and distinctive aromas and flavours of The Macallan. These oak casks are crafted to their own specifications and account for up to 80% of the final aromas and flavours of The Macallan.
NATURAL COLOUR: All colour in The Macallan whiskies is natural. Only the interaction of the ‘new make’ spirit with the oak of the maturation casks delivers the rich and natural diversity of colour, from light oak to the darkest mahogany.
PEERLESS SPIRIT: From place and production, to people and passion, The Macallan is the result of peerlessness in each and every way.
Drinking The Macallan in India
Thirsty? We certainly are and stoked about the range of this iconic whisky now available (and some coming soon) in India:
1. The Macallan Triple Cask 12 YO
2. The Macallan Double Cask 12 YO
3. The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 YO
4. The Macallan Double Cask 15 YO
5. The Macallan Double Cask 18 YO
6. The Macallan Reflexion
7. The Macallan No 6
8. The Macallan 25 YO
9. The Macallan 30 YO
10. The Macallan 40 YO