Whisky Advocate

Macallan’s new “Ice Ball Serve”

March 15th, 2010

I don’t drink my scotch with ice, but maybe some of you do? (See press release below.) What do you think?


March 15th 2010

Raising the Bar – The Macallan Introduces the Ice Ball Serve

The ice or water debate has long remained a fiercely contested subject amongst whisky drinkers and The Macallan has thrown its hat into the ring by creating an innovative serving method expressly for those who like their whisky with ice.

Believing the perfect serve to come down to personal preference, The Macallan has pioneered the Ice Ball Serve.  It is the first real move by any whisky brand in the UK to present whisky in an innovative, contemporary fashion and open the doors to a growing adult population that regards ice as an integral part of the spirit-drinking experience.

The Ice Ball Serve is based on the Japanese tradition of serving hand-carved ice with ultra-premium spirits.  The ice ball press instantly creates a flawlessly formed sphere of ice that adds a touch of theatre and sophistication.

The Macallan’s Marketing Assistant, Pat Lee, explains the science part: “The Ice Ball Press was inspired by Japanese cocktail culture where artisans hand-carve ice balls from massive slabs to create an uninterrupted surface that cools spirits quickly and evenly.  The ice ball melts slowly to preserve the integrity of the spirit.  We have updated this process, by developing a copper press that instantly trims a block of ice into a flawless ice ball.  This, combined with our masterful single malt Scotch whisky, is The Macallan Perfect Serve.

“The Macallan’s liquid excellence is continuously defined by its unprecedented elegance and versatility. The ice ball balances these qualities. As global cocktail culture has evolved, ice has become central to the modern-day spirits experience.  With an eye on this trend, we created The Macallan Perfect Serve, to modernise the way single malt can be enjoyed and appeal to a wider range of consumers.”

In essence; The Macallan ice ball serve takes this traditional practice to the ultimate level, with a single perfect sphere of ice, a unique beautiful serve with the benefits of maximum chill with minimum dilution.

Enjoy the perfect ice-ball serve at the following bars and restaurants:

The Ritz Hotel                                 
The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London
The Dorchester Hotel, London
50 St. James
Milk & Honey
Artisian Bar, The Langham Hotel
Quo Vardis
Boisdale Belgravia      
Blue Bar    
The Ivy Club 
The Lanesborough Hotel
The Albannach Bar                

Balmoral Hotel
Tiger Lily, Edinburgh
The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews
29, Glasgow
Blythwood Hotel (Glasgow)           
Dean Bar (Edinburgh)                      
Caledonian Hotel                             

Oulton Hall, near Leeds, West Yorkshire                             

86 Responses to “Macallan’s new “Ice Ball Serve””

  1. Good gracious, they even have the guts to use their machines in Scotland.

  2. Patrick says:

    From Macallan?
    I am sorry, but I don’t understand their strategy…
    Anyone can help me?

  3. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    they are afraid of nuthin to make a more buck!

  4. But honestly: I have no problems when people prefer their whisky with ice, fine for them but not for me. But that line says it all: “…appeal to a wider range of consumers”. The entire text is apologetic marketing newspeak for disguising their real motivation: Finding a way to sell their whisky to more people than before.

  5. CurtisCooley says:

    “The ice ball melts slowly to preserve the integrity of the spirit.”

    Doesn’t ice ‘dissolve’ in whiskey?

  6. Andy says:

    I would hardly call it innovative. Silicon moulds for making ice balls have been around for ages and if you boil the water before freezing there are not many more bubbles in the ice than in a ball carved from a block.

  7. Gal says:

    Blasphemy! what wouldnt they do to sell more scotch. mix it with a giant ball of ice?
    No maa’m! i won’t have that. whisky and ice don’t mix! )


  8. H.Diaz says:

    With an every day blend, maybe. With a Macallan, no way.

  9. Red_Arremer says:

    “The Macallan ice ball serve takes this traditional practice to the ultimate level” um… … The ultimate level of ice in whisky… ?

    Are you sure this is real Macallan PR and not just a prank by The Onion?

    • MrTH says:

      Just what I was thinking…the whole thing verges on self-parody. Hey, whatever floats your boat. A lot of things we consider normal whisky procedure would make some folks laugh.

  10. “Finding a way to sell their whisky to more people than before” is evil why exactly?

    We really do not need whiskey police, people. Do what you want with your whiskey, but you have no right to be offended by the preferences of others. Such hubris!

    • Did I say it was evil? No. Of course they have to make money. I just don’t like the way they are doing this. It’s like offering a rear spoiler for a Rolls Royce.

    • kallaskander says:

      Hi there,

      of course they have have to sell more whisky. After all they pushed production from 6 million litres to 8 million litres a year only recently.

      All made by hand and matured for years in a quality no one can match. Crafted not mass produced.

      “Respected an admired by the world´s most sophisticated and discerning whisky drinkers, The Macallan remains the Single Malt against which all others must be judged. This peerless reputation has been built by The Masters of Spirit and Wood, those craftsmen at the heart of the Macallan since it was legally licensed in 1824”.

      You can find that on every back label of the packaging of Macallan

      Of course anybody can drink their whisky the way they like it. And of course Macallan can recommend any way they like for those connoisseurs to enjoy their malt.

      That is no hubris that is taking Macallan seriously.

      And it is the first step on a way French Cognac went years ago. You produce more and more because demand rises, you leave behind your tradition and roots you sell and sell until suddenly somebody realises that you sell lots of spirit but that the spirit which founded the demand has gone out of it.

      If there is hubris I would look towards whisky producers at least some of them. Humility which is the opposite of hubris would help to keep the integrety of a quality product that will suffer from overreaching.
      Tell me one case where that is not so.

      But as I always say, never water another man´s whisky.

  11. I’m afraid this isn’t really anything new. There have been these Japanese ice molds floating around for a while. They sell them at the MoMa Store

    It’s a good alternative to having something on the rocks but not nearly the same as putting just a couple of drops of water in a whiskey to open it up.

    • Mark Davis says:

      I got one of these from the moma store as a gift. it comes with 2 molds that make 2 balls each.

      I like the slower more constant melt and I have to be honest it looks really cool in a glass with brown spirits or even Campari. I don’t realy drink single malts with ice, but I like it with bourbon, rye, cheap irish whiskey, or johnny walker red.

  12. Matt Z says:

    I don’t prefer scotch on ice either, but the big brass “machine” is pretty impressive in action, and the ice ball works very well for an Old Fashioned cocktail. If a bar can afford one, great. For the rest of us hobbyists, the silicone or plastic molds will work well enough.

    • Mats says:

      What do you mean “If a bar can afford one, great”? Surely it should be “If the bar (and Macallan) can con consumers into paying through the nose for a cold whisky with less taste than otherwise, great”?

      • Matt Z says:

        Just because this fancy ice ball is presented as an option, doesn’t mean that a consumer will be conned into ordering their drink that way. It is the consumer’s option to choose what they like, and their responsibility to know what is a marketing ploy and what isn’t. I don’t think anyone should be judged based on whether they order their whisky with ice or not. Nor should a company be judged for presenting options.

        The bar that I went to that had one of these was not pushing Macallan or making people order Macallan that way. They were serving the ice balls in appropriate cocktails, and it did not affect the price of the drink.

        Why all the opposition? If someone wants their Macallan neat, then drink it neat.

  13. Seth Nadel says:

    I like it. I think it’s cool. If you are in a bar and see someone with that ice ball, you might ask them about it. I’m all for it!

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Wait– really?

    • sam k says:

      I agree, Seth. It looks cool, is an attention-getting device, and could even be a bar conversation “ice-breaker!” (pun intended) Gimmicky? Sure, but what the heck? I can’t believe there’s an appreciable difference between the melt of a single large cube vs. the ball, though.

      I have no problems icing mine down occasionally in the summer, just like Dad did!

      • Sam,

        Indeed, an excellent way to enjoy a single malt in warmer climes!

        My point would be how many bars do you know where they take their ice seriously enough to have moved away from ice chips to large single cubes?

        Kold Draft Ice is excellent ice but not available to all single malt drinkers!


  14. chef! says:

    A single sphere of ice is both attractive, gimmicky and does have low surface area, but I just don’t get it. I could pour evian in some silicon chocolate molds and chill my whisky slightly before hand to get a similar effect? I can’t wait to hear my bartender come back to the kitchen with a story on how someone complained because the surface area of his v-day heart shaped ice was too aggressive on the nuances of his 12yo and his palate. Just wait.

  15. BFishback says:

    The actual device for making these balls, which is pretty simple, is expensive as hell. Starts at $183 for 30mm then jumps to $1,183 for a 50mm. I guess Macallan is giving them away.

    • sam k says:

      I can guarantee that bars are not paying for these out-of-pocket if this is a Macallan promotion.

      • Seth Nadel says:

        You got that right! Remy Cointreau is going to be handing these out to bars like candy.

        • Sam & Seth,

          If I may, due to the archaic laws involving alcohol in this country, we are not allowed to give away the Ice Ball machine. That and we’re Scottish so we’re reluctant to give anything away in the first place!


  16. Mark says:

    I haven’t counted the Macallan tastings I’ve attended over years, but I think everyone of them included the explicit recommendation not to put ice in their malts. On a hot afternoon, maybe some rocks in Grouse but otherwise they presented it as a disrespectful compromise.

    So this is a bit ironic. It’s a potential money making move that cuts against the integrity of their own approach to their product. Maybe it will prompt some to drink scotch who wouldn’t have done so, and maybe some of them will later leave the ice behind for full flavor.

    At least they didn’t call it The Connoisseur’s Ice.

  17. Luke says:

    I’ll file this alongside “Coldflow Guinness” and “Guinness Light”, both horrendous, both notorious here in Dublin.

  18. Mats says:

    If you just want cold whisky (for whatever reason), put soapstone ice cubes in it ( – sorry but no English version of the site despite the product name…). No melting, no watering down of taste.

    • Bob Goodyear says:

      Last I knew, you could buy a bag of soapstore “cubes” at Sur la Table. My wife bought me some for Christmas last year.

  19. lawschooldrunk says:

    Macallan wants people to even get the idea that they need ice to hide the rough edges of their unbalanced product?

  20. John Hansell says:

    Hey, they way I look at this is: I wouldn’t drink my Macallan this way, but if someone spends money on a whisky, he (or she) should be entitled to drink it however he wants. And Macallan is just presenting another option.

    Controversial? Perhaps. A marketing concept to increase sales? Yes. But it’s not hurting me, so I don’t have a problem with it.

  21. Putting their mouth where the money is…

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Ugh, but tey surely are–Me, I’d rather put my mouth where the (un-iced) whisky is. 😉

  22. Louis says:

    Macallan prices are continuously going up due to increasing demand, but they want to increase demand further?!?!?! Of course, when they sneak in young malt, it won’t be so noticeable as the ball of ice melts. I’m trying not to be too cynical, but it’s hard to understand the reasoning behind this campaign.

  23. I think the science is sound. Traditional ice melts far too quickly, cooling the whisky too much and consequently robbing it of its flavour potential. By melting slowly, the ice ball would only slightly cool the whisky, both cooling and diluting it at a reduced rate. Good for those who like their whiskies slightly cooled, and with a bit of water, without being “cold and watered down” as will happen with traditional ice.

    • Mats says:

      Not sure if this reasoning is true. Yes, a cube has more surface-to-volume ratio than a sphere, and so it is likely to take longer to melt. But at the same time, as the sphere is cold, solid ice, the temperature difference between the ice sphere and the whisky is likely to be high. And as it seems like they are putting a giant ice sphere in the whisky glass (much more than a few cubes) the whisky is likely to get colder quicker than with a few ice cubes.

  24. Josh West says:

    I’m wondering how long till we see Scotch Margarita Mix…


    In all seriousness though, I see most folks start out drinking whisk(e)y with ice. Eventually they build a tolerance to the initial burn we all felt ages ago, and end up deciding a couple drops of water is enough. This could be a good move by Macallan to simply get more folks interested in Scotch, while further associating their brand with premiere/luxury.

    I am surprised though to not see the New York City and Chicago bars featured in recent Malt Advocate editions listed as bars who may carry the ice-ball serve.

  25. John,

    Firstly, I’d like to introduce myself to your readers here as the Brand Ambassador for The Macallan in the USA based in New York.

    Personally, I’m delighted that so many people took the opportunity to voice their opinion on a subject that I, and I’m sure many of my fellow whisky ambassadors, are asked about and that is ‘how should I drink my whisk(e)y?” It must be the most frequently asked question we get! Oh, other than ‘how can we get your job’!

    As you know The Macallan hosts a great number of tastings and educational events around the USA each year pouring whisky and discussing this fine spirit with over 25,000 people last year alone. We always take time to ask the audience, both experienced scotch drinkers and those new to single malt alike, how they typically enjoy their whisky.

    I think a small number of your readers here may choke and splutter on their single malt, neat of course and poured in a nosing glass with an eye dropper of branch water to the ready, were they to see how many people raise a hand who drink their single malt with ice. It is a significant number and I always wonder how healthy our industry would be if these drinkers were pushed away to drink other spirits because they felt they weren’t welcome?

    My own personal view is that people should be encouraged to drink single malt whisky any way they choose to enjoy it. It is not for me, nor really anyone in a similar position, to tell someone that they shouldn’t do something or can’t do something to their drink that they have paid for!

    However, should they ask for advice, and they often do, then this would be my typical response – firstly, always taste any whisky neat and particularly if trying a new single malt whisky for the first time. Having ‘chewed’ the whisky (you can blame Gerry Tosh at Highland Park for that!) you can then make an educated decision as to what you want to do to the whisky. For some, it will be to add water in whatever quantity they so wish – eye dropper, splash, teaspoon, half a glass etc. For others it will be to leave it alone and savour it neat. However, for a great number they will want to add ice.

    The logic for the ice ball, which has been adopted from a very traditional Japanese practice and indeed where the machine is sourced from, is rather than add small ice ‘chips’ made in industrial ice machines we recommend a large single block, cube or sphere of ice.

    I’d bore everyone with the science but the reality is, having not only made over a thousand ice balls in the last few months but also consumed a fair amount of whisky served over them, if you are going to drink your single malt whisky over ice then you are better with a large single piece of ice.

    To put this into context if you had poured yourself one glass of The Macallan when you started reading this, say the 12yr or the 15yr over regular ice cubes / chips and one over the Ice Ball then by the time you had reached this point in my epistle the former would be a cloudy, watered down drink and the latter a clear, slightly chilled glass of single malt!

    I fully appreciate that this may not be one for the traditionalists but then if the industry had stood still all those years ago we may never even have had single malt whisky as we now know it now and in all its wonderful expressions from all the excellent distilleries in Scotland.

    Finally, the Ice Ball machine has played a significant part in attracting new drinkers to single malt whisky and to The Macallan. I have witnessed first hand people sipping cocktails at a bar who see the Ice Ball machine in action and ask the bartender for ‘one of those’. If it brings more people into the world of whisky then surely that is a great thing!

    At the end of the day The Macallan is a business and not a charity….oh, hang on actually we are! The Macallan is owned by The Edrington Group, which in turn is controlled by The Robertson Trust. Established in 1961 by the Robertson sisters the trust is an independent Scottish grant-making trust whose objective is the provision of financial support for charity.

    In the year to March 2009 the trust committed GBP 9.9million [$15million] to 497 different charities.

    On that note I wish I could write off my extensive consumption of The Macallan against my US tax return, a process which itself could drive more people to drink whisky. However, despite serious investigation, it appears that ownership by a charitable foundation isn’t grounds for a favourable IRS ruling!

    Slainte Mhath, however you drink your whisky and I look forward to pouring you all drams of The Macallan at the up and coming Whisky Fest in Chicago. Perhaps we may bring along an Ice Ball machine or two……….

    • MrTH says:

      Mr Dram, thank you for taking the time to chime in here. I hope folks here will always make industry people like you feel welcome to comment, even if what you say makes some of us feel a little queasy! I don’t use ice, but if I did, I’d want to try this. Keep thinking I’ll see a little Indiana Jones running for his life just ahead of it….

    • Mats says:

      Well written and fully understand your p o v. Personally I will continue to stay off ice in my malt, but I wouldn’t mind an ice ball in my gin and tonic.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Suspended in a rocks glass filled with a cold blend of conventionalist, constructivist, and behaviorist notions of truth, the whisky marketer’s mind simply does its business. A black caramelish soot, the remnant of human nature, value and rationality, oxidized by the activity of economic consideration forms a sticky ring around the edge.

      Did I mention that there’s also a perfectly molded golfball-sized sphere of ice swimming around in there as well?

      That is surely the death knell for any whisky that exists– that it’s nature should be made contingent purely on its ability to magnetize specifically those who’ve hitherto had no interest in it whatever. The seduction not the sex. Not the concrete pleasures of smell and taste, but only the ineffable rush of impulsively choosing “that one” with the flare and the fashion–

      Not to mention that big ice ball in it.

  26. Alex says:

    How much do they charge for the ice ball? Probably costs as much as a bottle of Fine Oak 10yo…

  27. tim d says:

    I really would have thought this was an Onion article as well…

    Props to Living the Dram for a great explanation and informational post.

  28. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    thank you Mr Dram for your input. Your point of view is valid and justified. Many of us here know that single malt whisky sales do not feed the industry. Not even with a brand like The Macallan which sells what – up to 50% of the yearly production as single malt wheras others sell only 3% or none at all as an OB.

    That is a fact of live. Many of us here know that the world market for Scotch whisky is 95% blends and only 5% malt and other niche products like pure (blended) malts or grains and the like. And even if you do sell 50% of The Macallan as single malt and the rest goes into blends most of it into blends owned by the Erdington Group as well I am not sure you should try to promote The Macallan as a mixer. If you want to sell more Macallan you probably should rather promote your companies own blends more and offer the ice ball as a gimmick of their promotion.
    Oh, of course you do promote your blends more because want the best of both worlds. Or is it the most of both worlds?
    I do not take this against Edrington. Business is business and you as a company could not care less about the way a Pound on the good side of the balance sheet was earned.

    But see what it makes you do as a company. Your doing the splits and probably overstrain some of the tendons that keep loyal Macallan fans connected with the brand. You did so when you introduced the Fine Oak range. You did it in taking first fill olorose bottlings The Macallan was so famous and adored for from certain markets.

    Your marketing with emphasis on the tradition of Easter Elchies House and the purity of your spirit founded on tradition and craftsmanship etc. etc. the natural ingredients the time of maturation – but everyone can read the back of a Macallan packaging themselves.
    So you see you have strained the loyalty and patience of faithfull The Macallan single malt drinkers before. And now something like this.

    Doing the splits is the problem here. Promoting The Macallan to new customers without angering faithfull ones even further.

    Let me make it clear that I do not mean you as a person. You spoke up on behalf of your function and your employer and I give you full credit for that.
    But some of us beg to differ.
    I for myself by the way have doubts about the charitable nature of The Edrington Group – when it comes to price policies in connection to whisky. Many have been the times that Edrington products were the first to go up in price when new price rounds were due and while other companies lowered prices Edrington tried to push them further here in Germany.

  29. Mr. Dram: If you want use the ice machine to pull cocktail drinkers onto single malt territory, this approach is reasonable. But please and pretty please try to educate them more about whisky after you have convinced them that single malt actually is a nice drink. Just saying: “Like ice with your whisky? Then have it your way!” is NOT enough in my most humble of all opinions. The “doing the splits” argument of kallaskander is a very good point. Be careful not to overdo it by creating the impression that there is no greater way of enjoying your Macallan than with an iced golf ball sitting in your tumbler.

  30. jazz lover says:

    Said it before,say it again, enjoy your whisky the way you like.
    People take this issue too serious.My money,my whisky!

  31. Neil Fusillo says:

    Ah… PR cheese. 🙂

  32. CurtisCooley says:

    From a purely selfish point of view, I don’t want more people buying single malts, thus lowering supply and increasing the price. Last I heard, the whisk(e)y world was in short supply of barley and barrels, which is why the prices have risen so dramatically the last ten years or so.

    At the risk of snobbery, why can’t single malt enthusiasts enjoy single malts as they are intended without pushing complex tasting whisk(e)y onto the masses. The flavors we’ve grown to cherish are the very flavors ice and cold mask.

    I agree that each to his own, but if you are going to ice a single malt and mask flavors, why not just ice a blend and leave more flavor to those who seek and enjoy it?

    • kallaskander says:

      Hit there,

      you are right Curtis the whisky system is showing signs

      And here a thing which could well be very near the core of the problems.

      Wednesday, 17 March, 2010 – 12:02

      It’s not widely known but in France they drink more Scotch whisky in a month than they do cognac in a year. For Scottish born Charles MacLean it’s quirky facts like that which have him smiling. One of the world’s leading whisky writers, MacLean has tracked the phenomenal increase in whisky drinking around the world over the last 30 years.

      He is constantly amazed at the growth in the industry.

      “In 1978 the Macallan Single Highland Malt scotch whisky had a promotions budget of 50 pounds. It is now millions and millions of pounds. Where once they just had one expression they now have around 20 at any one time,” says MacLean.

      Gets you to thinking.

  33. Gary says:

    I don’t put ice in my whiskey. But, I get it. It is all about the marketing and attracting new customers. If the ice ball is a way to do it, then more power to you.

  34. Mark says:

    I’ll revise my post above to say “recent historical approach.” Consistency is good.

    They gonna install one of these machines in the tasting room at the distillery?

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Your analysis is very nice.

      Everyone– hit the link Oliver posted and go see what he has to say.

  35. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    just for the heck of it all, another great Japanese invention.

    They are not sure how to apply it to whisky just yet but they will find a way.

  36. Red_Arremer says:

    Suspended in a rocks glass filled with a cold blend of conventionalist, constructivist, and behaviorist notions of truth, the whisky marketer’s mind simply does its business. A black caramelish soot, the remnant of human nature, value and rationality, oxidized by the activity of economic consideration forms a sticky ring around the edge.

    Did I mention that there’s also a perfectly molded golfball-sized sphere of ice swimming around in there as well?

    That is surely the death knell for any whisky that exists– that it’s nature should be made contingent purely on its ability to magnetize specifically those who’ve hitherto had no interest in it whatever. The seduction not the sex. Not the concrete pleasures of smell and taste, but only the ineffable rush of impulsively choosing “that one” with the flare and the fashion–

    Not to mention that big ice ball in it.

  37. bgulien says:

    Oh and it doesn’t fit through the nosing glass opening.

  38. Kevin says:

    I guess I don’t get this idea that ice is about “attracting new customers.” Look at what was said earlier — a lot of current customers already use ice. I’m one. And I’m on the more-educated-about-whisk(e)y end of the spectrum. I hear the arguments for neat, and when I try a new pour, I often try it neat first. But while the flavors are different (not always better, but different) in a neat pour, it takes some building up (for me) to be able to consistently enjoy the whiskey at that strength. I built that tolerance at one point, but I don’t drink enough at this point to maintain it, nor do I want to anymore. It’s more enjoyable for me to bring out a good glass of whiskey, enjoy the intense flavors of the first few sips and then appreciate the gentle changes as the melting ice dilutes and cools the drink. It’s still more interesting and enjoyable than any cocktail.

    I also detect some irony here — it seems that many defenders of single malt purity will pooh-pooh an idea like the ice-ball as merely marketing. But the single malt concept is marketing too. It creates a sense of exclusivity and (the marketers would hope) brand loyalty. But you can’t taste exclusivity; you drink and taste whisk(e)y. And there’s nothing intrinsic about a single malt that necessarily makes it better whisk(e)y than any other kind.
    Am I missing something here? Or is it just that some of us like the marketing that we like and don’t like other kinds of marketing?

    • Red_Arremer says:

      Yeah you’re missing something. Single malt might be a “concept,” but appreciating good whisky (not necessarily single malt) is not about appreciating concepts. It has to do with sensuous experiences, which naturally exceed the limitations of conceptualization. It’s about sharing these experiences with others. It’s about taking an interest in who makes them possible. For the enthusiasts who share them, these are all concrete experiences, things with concrete value, not concepts. The only place where “good whisky” and “whisky appreciation” exist purely as a concepts is in the minds of people who experience them exclusively in extreme abstraction– marketers for instance. So you’re missing that.

      Another thing you’re missing is an explanation of how because two things happen be categorically alike, in being marketing concepts for instance, discriminating between them is a waste of time or a mark of arrogance. Some items, which happen to be amongst other things marketing concepts, dovetail with my interests or advance causes I care for and others don’t or worse.

      This ice ball serve thing is crass. It’s a joke. As Oliver points out, from the standpoint of luxury it’s in bad taste. As Kal points out, it’s marketing value is questionable because it contradicts other marketing that Macallan has done and it is therefore likely to alienate some of the Drinkership.

      There’s a huge difference between loving whisky and promoting it. People who love whisky care about that difference and applaud promotion that fits with their passion– critize that which doesn’t.

      • Kevin says:

        Which is basically a long way of saying there’s some marketing you like and some you don’t…

  39. jazz lover says:


  40. lucky says:

    Some wag at work commented – “I tried it once but I hated it when the ball slapped my nose.” Haven’t been able to think of it the same since.

  41. Whiskeyminis says:

    When i was young i drank my bourbon right out of the fridge.
    I have now learned to appreciate my whiskies on room temperature. More nose and flavor. But still, on a very sunny day ……
    I’ve tasted the Macallan this weekend , the fine Oak 15 yo and the 18 yo and if you throw a ball of ice in it ,it doesn’t sound like a big waste to me. If this was the Rolls Royce of the whiskies i rather have a truck. What is the fuss all about? I have bourbons and blends which taste better.

  42. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    in another forum Oliver K pointed us to this.

    More doubt on the soundness of Macallan`s reasoning methinks.


    • Mark says:

      Trying to write this while laughing isn’t easy. 5 spheres for $40, 10 for $80 and 240 for $1440…Why, I guess it is The Connoisseur’s Ice. It must be for the price, right? Tasting your premium spirits “the way they were intended.”

  43. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    well, I think there is kind a clash of two worlds. whisky on the rocks or spheres for that came to my country Germany with the US GIs and bourbon. Before that we did not have a very big whisky culture. We had grain spirits and eau de vies but aging a grain spirit in barrels was not an established German custom.

    So I would venture to say that the American way of drinking whisky here in my country very much applies to American made whiskies whereas Scotch in all its forms is rarely drunk on the rocks here.

    So Chuck your comments here

    do highlight different cultural backgrounds in a way probably without you realising that.

    I will not start an argument and do not take offence being among the “snobs” who just say that drinking single malt on the rocks is possible but pretty senseless.

    Bourbon on the rocks any time, though because it does not change that much as a chilled single malt does.

    I will not look down on anyone because of the way she or he drinks their whisky. Nor will I look down on anyone who stands her or his ground over the issue of how to drink whisky.

    We concur here I think in this: any way you like.

    And I really do love your blog and learned a lot about bourbon an I am sure will go on to do so.


  44. Red_Arremer says:

    Chuck. Ouch. Did you really just say, “Don’t listen to those people who don’t like the iceball– they’re snobs.” Did you really just resort to meaningless, insulting, name-calling in order dismiss the sentiments of sincere whisky lovers who are dedicated to the appreciation of something good?

    How about “schmoozing industry insider”? It means almost nothing, but it is a label that someone could unfairly stick on you in order to reduce your apparent credibility in the eyes of the community. That someone, however, would not be me. I respect you, even though our views don’t always line up.

    There’s nothing wrong with exploring why people should not make or should be quiet about their negative judgements on the iceball. You just need to step it up a little. There’s plenty of space to explore beyond name-calling.

  45. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    reading this

    I could not resist to put it here as a contrasting element of the “usual” marketing line The Macallan has followed for years to the best way to serve Macallan so recently discovered.

    Snob that I am.

    And I do not hold that feature against The Intoxicologist in any way let me add. I really like her pages.


  46. Red_Arremer says:


    On the iceball serve press release (the same one printed at the top of this entry) includes a “Note to Editors,” which consists of the exact same 6 reasons for excellence thing that show up on the intoxicologist. So you read through the ice ball thing, the 6 reasons thing, and then the release ends abruptly with a shot of a rocks glass with macallan and a ball in it.

    So this is how they deal with the apparent conflict– put it center stage with a spotlight and pretend it doesn’t exist! Pretty neat huh?

  47. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    that is neat.

    Wasn`t it the Queen of Hearts who said marketing was putting together 10 impossible things about one subject in just one day?


  48. Red_Arremer says:

    Haha. As to the person who said that, I think it was actually that guy at Edrington– the one who had the “Damascus Moment” in Red Square. The “scales fell from his eyes” and he realized that the essence of The Macallan was “luxury.” Ever since I read that insane interview I’ve noticed more and more things I dislike about how The Macallan is marketed. Whisky on the balls is just their latest offense.

  49. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    Dr. Whisky prescribes some calming down and reminds us that in a sense it is promotion which kept the malt distilleries going.

    Right he is.

    Dr Whisky in the case you can not place the name the first ever Balvenie Brand Ambassador appointed by William Grant & Sons USA.

    William Grant & Sons together with The Edrington Group took over Highland Distillers and the name was changed to The 1887 Company. 30% of The 1887 Company lie with William Grant & Sons 70% with The Edrington Group.

    Macallan is one of their distilleries.


  50. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    the next logical step…

    Somebody at Macallan marketing will regret that they have not thought of this.

    It would be interesting to know how many bottles more are sold. 😮


  51. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    a point in case.

    When it is about awards nobody knows it is all about quality and tradition.

    See what I mean doing the splits?


  52. […] are driving at. It’s the same kind of thing The Macallan has been talking about with their ice ball serve. But even that I find a little silly. Basically they are all saying that people want their whiskey […]

  53. nicolas vaughn says:

    you can enjoy one in Atlanta too at prohibition bar in buckhead!

© Copyright 2017. Whisky Advocate. All rights reserved.