Whisky Advocate

The Macallan announces next installment of “Masters of Photography” series

May 13th, 2010

 You might remember the first time Macallan did this. I wrote about it here back in 2008. It involved a well-known photographer, a beautiful naked blond on the distillery grounds at Macallan, and the eventual images being showcased on bottles of 30 year old Macallan. To say the least, it created quite a stir. 

Well, The Macallan has introduced the second installment in this series. This time it’s with a different photographer. I’m not sure if there will be any naked blonds, but they do promise “a dramatic and yet romantic ‘art noir’ voyage; a stylish couple and the key secret behind The Macallan.”

Wow, my imagination is running wild with that description! You’ll find all the details below in the press release I received.


Today, The Macallan single malt whisky announced that the next photography partnership in their Masters of Photography series is going to be with the legendary Albert Watson.

Scots born, Watson is famous worldwide for his celebrity, fashion and art photography. Photo District News named him one of the 20 most influential photographers of all time. He has shot posters for major Hollywood movies such as ‘Kill Bill’, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, ‘The Da Vinci Code’, as well as shooting over 200 covers for Vogue and Rolling Stone magazine. In fact, in 2007 one large-format print of his sold for $108,000 at auction. He is also an acclaimed director with over 500 TV commercials to his name.

The Macallan Masters of Photography II will be in an entirely different style to the first edition in the series, shot by Rankin.

The subject of the project must be kept under wraps, for the moment, until shooting is complete but the key ingredients include: a dramatic and yet romantic ‘art noir’ voyage; a stylish couple and the key secret behind The Macallan.

Ken Grier, Director of Malts, The Edrington Group, said: “I am extremely excited about working with the hugely talented and influential Albert Watson. His creativity is fabulous, but not only that, he exudes an aura of charm and quiet confidence that is very much in keeping with The Macallan   

“As part of this unique project, art and whisky lovers alike can follow The Macallan shoot with Albert Watson by following my daily blog.  The blog posts will start from 31st May at

Albert Watson, added: “I am looking forward to working with The Macallan on such a prestigious project. The partnership with a premium, Scottish iconic brand will give me a once in a lifetime photographic opportunity to create a lasting legacy as part of The Macallan Masters of Photography series.”

The final result will be revealed by The Macallan at a series of glittering events later in the year.  Further details will be revealed in the months to come.


Please enjoy our brands responsibly.

Notes to editors


  1. The first Macallan Masters of Photography was launched in 2008 with Scots photographer Rankin.  Rankin produced 1,000 individual black and white images captured on Polaroid.  Each limited edition bottle of rare 30 year old Macallan Fine Oak single malt displayed a bespoke label featuring one of Rankin’s images, accompanied by the original Polaroid.


The array of images featured artistic nude studies of Tuuli, Rankin’s muse and wife, contrasted by shots of the dedicated craftspeople of the distillery, and still life images of the surrounding flora and fauna at Easter Elchies Estate.

  1. The Macallan is ranked number two by value* among the world’s top selling single malts and is recognised as being a leader within the Scotch Whisky industry when it comes to innovation.

*IWSR figures ending December 2006

No Responses to “The Macallan announces next installment of “Masters of Photography” series”

  1. two-bit cowboy says:

    I see another price increase on the horizon.

    By the way, John, how’s the knee?

  2. Red_Arremer says:

    Ugh! Encounters with Macallan PR are like tasting bad whisky– Down the drain and what can I drink to get the flavor out of my mouth.

    How many of us here, saw, for instance, the promotional posters for the Da Vinci Code– Of course we all did, and when we did we thought about the artistry (vapid advertising tech work) behind them and immediately thought “Hey, that’s what my whisky experience is missing– a pairing with some of this fellow’s photographic magic (lame crap that no one cares about).”

    Just kidding– Of course no such thoughts ever occured to us. Actually the relevant thinking will be done in the future as we appraise the product described in this PR release. We’ll see it and think “Oh, so it’s only 3000$ more to get the whisky with the stuff from that famous photographer– What the hell! Might as well go for it. Something to show off the friends after the charity dinner tomorrow.”

    First the price hikes on the eighteen, then the Rankin thing, then the ice ball… Macallan’s beyond a lost cause. to go read some philosophy or a good book and wash Macallans newest piece of insulting nonsense out of my head.

  3. Sjoerd de Haan says:

    I agree with Red Arremer. They just go beyond themselves to market their stuff. And even since we are just talking and whining about it, it works. Even though they don’t sell their 3000 dollar bottles of stuff that without a photo costs about 25% of that, people with show-off-money to spend read this too and do get interested. Clever guys there in the Speyside…

    • John Hansell says:

      That’s just it. The marketing DOES work. That’s why they’re doing it. And you can’t blame them. In the end, it’s a business. A business that is supposed to make money.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        John, aside from pointlessly placing blame, there are at least two fine reasons to jeer at and criticize marketing behavior like this. First, you might want to give validation to and get it from other like minded whisky lovers. Second, you might hope that someone who might not have envisioned a perspective it in a context like this, is exposed to it.

        Further, is there any reason whatever to refrain from blaming Macallan for blazing a crappy path for scotch producers and consumers to walk on? I say, heck no.

        Businesses are “supposed to make money”– true enough– so… what? A cursory glance at recent economic history will tell you that, businesses pursuing this directive, within the bounds of industry convention, can easily create situations that are very bad for the majority of people. Also, let’s consider a more detailed kallaskander-type look at, say, the American meat and meat-packing industry. It will reveal that the growth of business, when pursued in an irresponsible fashion, can lead to simultaneous and synergystically co-reinforcing decreases in both consumers’ level meaningful engagement with products and the quality of the products themselves.

        John, many businesses, and quite a few beloved names in the whisky industry come to mind, are doggedly dedicated to not degrading their consumers or products. However, it has been amply borne out that The Edrington Group is not one of those. This marketing behavior is just indicative of their overall approach. All of us here are supportive of entrepreneurial activity, but there is significant friction between the conduct that most of us want to see from whisky producers and what we do see from The Edrington Group.

        • John Hansell says:

          All I was trying to say is this: If Macallan wants to hire a photographer (or painter, or glass blower, or whatever) to take pictures, put them on Macallan bottles to make them attractive and add value, and if people out there with the money to spend find this attractive and want to buy those bottles, then nobody loses and I don’t have a problem with that. As long as they keep making the good, affordable whisky for the rest of us.

          • TheMandarin says:

            You’re right that Macallan is still making good, relatively affordable offerings…that’s a good thing. However, this concept of “Macallan as fine-artsy luxury” is just so bold…so graphic…so dependent on a consumer who prioritizes style over substance (good drinking). They’re welcome to do their thing, and work their luxury angle, but aficionados, and passionate, educated whiskey drinkers may call it like it is….a bunch of wank.

        • kallaskander says:

          Hi there,

          hi Red.

          “a more detailed kallaskander-type look”. I hope that my nick name will not become a swear word in the whisky industry 😮

          On the other side if it would stop some very doubtable developments…

          I think the Macallan dilemma is that they are branding under one name.

          A good name that used to be. “The Rolls Royce among single malts”. That is a catch phrase too good to let slip for any marketing departement.

          But as I said to hang on to it with products and marketing that has nothing to do anymore with the standing and quality of the malts that founded that kind of fame is doing the splits.

          Macallan made a mistake in naming the fine oak range “Macallan”, they should have called that range “Easter Elchies” or something. Than they would have been able to market that line under that name with ice balls as premixes as whatever you want to think of. Without damaging The Macallan.

          What they did when they called everything a Macallan was watering down the Macallan standing. And now every stupid markting stunt has to be called “Macallan this or that”.
          And it does the splits. It sells the new reduced qualtities, no doubt – but estranges the faithful.

          And then there are officials who see everything as premium that bears the name Macallan.

          And by the way if it comes to increasing prices it is Edrington as well which is always at the front.


  4. brian bradley (brian47126) says:

    “The Macallan is ranked number two by value”

    I almost did a spit-take with my coffee. Honestly, I think the Mac 12 is still well priced, and I do enjoy the dram quite a bit. So, (at lease in this moment in time) it is a decent value for the money.

    Too bad their success has made them insane.

  5. MrTH says:

    I know where they can get some nice moody Scottish landscape photos for the next series. I work cheaper than those other guys, too.

  6. Alex says:

    I agree with John that marketing as an enhancement to a product is fine but I get upset when the product becomes the marketing, glossy on the outside and bit hollow and thin on the inside. As long as we get good value whiskies in a distiller’s core range, the top end is fair game for any marketing campaign they can devise but buyer beware!

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I do agree with you and John about marketing, Alex.

      But, as far as marketing-enhanced value goes, I don’t think this kind product has it. Look at it this way– Will anyone ever think “Man, too bad I have to settle for this Brora… Another couple of K and I could’ve got that Macallan with the art-noir photography”? No. Because people who love good whisky would rather put that money towards good whisky. They would rather get an old Bowmore, Springbank, or Glenfarclas or, perhaps several of the standard Macallan 30.

      A year or two ago, the first Macallan Masters of Photography push won “worst marketing campaign” in the Drammies, a massive, prestigious, online whisky competition (in which Diageo was once caught and rebuked for trying to vote for itself a million times), which is run by The Scotch Blog and in which ordinary bloggers like you and me vote. The Edrington Group flipped and told the blog that the award was unjust and to please consider The Edrington Group’s position in the matter.

      The Scotch Blog didn’t rescind the award, but they did, very generously, allow a TEG representative, I believe it was Ken Grier actually, to present TEG’s view of the matter. Basically, TEG’s view was that the marketing campaign was not bad because it was a success–

      A success in terms of getting Macallan noticed by a lot of people who cared about luxury in general, but had never been too interested in whisky in particular

      Well, that really made the divide clear. It was a great marketing campaign, it just wasn’t aimed at the whisky lovers who voted in the Drammies. In saying that the award was unjust, Macallan was basically saying that all these whisky lovers, rather than voting worst marketing campaign to something that alienated and pissed them off, should instead act as TEG’s personal business cheerleaders. This is why TEG is a company that whisky lovers should not think kindly of.

      Btw, you should all hunt down that post on The Scotch Blog. Kallaskander had a very nice response to it there. In fact Kal, maybe you could provide some links?

      • TheMandarin says:

        Well said Red.
        I want to draw attention to the observation that this Masters of Photography add campaign is not targeting educated, whisky aficionados, and whisky bloggers, but people who are interested in luxury. This concept of luxury is not about an incredible drinking experience, i.e. Black Bowmore, it is not the hedonistic and intellectual luxury of sipping a well-crafted, aged scotch. It is luxury in its own right, created, and portrayed to us through a slick, inane bunch of advertising. It’s vacuous. It’s in poor taste. It certainly won’t impress aficionados or drinkers who care about what comes in the bottle.

        On another note…a few people brought up the Fine Oak. I’ve found that to be an incredible range of whisky’s.

  7. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    with pleasure Red. Not so sure if it is a pleasure for TEG, though.

    Let me take the opportunity to express my regret that Kevin of The Scotch Blog is not posting at the moment because he is busy with other things which I understand perfectly well.

    I hope you will find the time to do some posting again soon Kevin.


  8. Ken Grier says:

    Hi it’s Ken Grier from The Macallan here. I love the debate guys…especially diverse opinions like Reds because that is what Scotch is about: ie, different views! As it’s all my idea let me comment.

    The first thing is that I love Scotch more passionately than is humanly possible. John will tell you that.I was down in the Highlander last night in Craigellachie enjoying a dram after 3 hours with Bob Dalgarno talking cut points, filling strengths, spirit character etc. I passionately believe that our Whisky is better than anyone elses….why because 58 percent …yes we have done the math…of the flavour comes from the casks and we spend 5 times more than others cause we buy 90 percent of the Spanish sherry oak casks in the Scotch industry. Our Whisky has never been better eg Paul Pacult…and you know how honest he is…voted our 21 years old best Whisky in the world in his Ultimate Beverage Challenge just this year. We charge a fair price for our Scotch but we have to make a fair profit to invest in laydown for the future or we go bust….simple. We also have legally to let a retailer price it in his store at the price he sees fit so prices do vary. We also a big range of products because we want to welcome people different affordability and tastes into our brand….in fact Fine Oak 10 grew really well this year and we a half bottle of 18 years old and 1.75 litre to help make the right economic choice for them. Fine Oak is another great example of getting more young and old and men and women into this great world of Single Malt… It was almost a quarter of our sales last year and had its 6 th year of growth.

    My first point then is that after 11 years working on The Macallan proud that we gave got drinkers into our Scotch world, brought in a range of interesting high quality new products with different ways to enjoy them. We have also been able to invest in our distillery to supply great product to you for the future.

    Now to Masters of Photography. You may not like it and that’s your choice. I and thousands of others do and that’s our choice. That is what is wonderful about the US so many other countries…democracy..and that’s why I’m taking time to post and to thank you giving me your views. The great thing about Johns blog is that I can give you my thoughts.

    At Macallan we spend a lot of cash on advertising as I want to put it into the quality of our liquid so we rely on sampling and new cool stuff to get awareness and interest. Masters of Photography means we can make great Scotch and beautiful things that people can enjoy, look at, drink or even collect. Not everyone will want to but a lot of people do.

    The first Edition has now all been shipped and that’s nice because nearly 1000 people bought one…in fact I bought 3 ….one for each of my kids as an inheritance. They were a bargain as all we did was add the gallery price of Rankin photo onto the normal price of a 30 year old. A great deal…I wouldn’t invest my own cash if I didn’t think so!

    Next we generated a humungus amount of publicity and yes some awards…not all about worst marketing but praising us….this means that we can hit our sales targets in recession, keep laying down stock and keep as many of our staff in job as possible.

    Next I’m really pleased to see that we sampled almost 3000 new drinkers around the world at our exhibitions of the art and they told their friends, that’s really good for Single Malt as it gets new younger LDA drinkers of all backgrounds into our category…. Great for interest in Single Malt so companies of all sizes can come in and prosper.

    Finally I’m really proud of it because it’s beautiful and fresh and it has our homeplace at its heart.

    I’m thrilled that Albert Watson will shoot the next one later this month because he is a great artist. The theme will be about how we make The Macallan and it will be shot in a weighty, epic and breathtaking way…by the way everyone is clothed in this one….Rankin shot it his way and Albert will shoot it his.

    So in summary, I think we make awesome Scotch that I hope everyone can enjoy. I celebrate your comments and hope you appreciate my point of view because that’s freedom of expression, the fundamental of democracy and what debate over a dram is about.

    By the way im also proud that through our Cire Perdue decanter project with Lalique we have already raised enough money for 3 wells to be built in the 3rd world by charity:water and the end of this year will will auction this and give ALL the money made away to charity:water……I may be proud to drink our Whisky but Im also proud of that!

    Ken Grier, Director of The Macallan

    • John Hansell says:

      Thanks, Ken, for taking the time to respond. We really respect those in the industry are willing to engage in our discussions here. I know it always isn’t easy. (Just ask Richard Paterson. 🙂 )

    • Joshua_Bacarolle says:

      The Macallan’s marketing tactic suggests two main things to me:

      1. They have a consumer profile in mind which would be distasteful to hardcore whisk(e)y lovers. Maybe a guy in his mid 30’s to late 50’s who just got rich from owning a small business, high powered sales job, etc. He’s the kind of guy who owns a red sports car or a top-of-the-line sound system — status symbol type stuff. He doesn’t really know what to do with his money exactly, but he does know that he wants to establish himself as someone with luxury tastes. The inclusion of the DaVinci Code photographer and his beautiful naked blonde wife implies that this consumer might have a sort of hokey, Playboy Magazine mentality, a little outdated but still evocative to some successful guys that don’t know what to do with their money. So he’s a little sleazy, but not too sleazy, into luxury goods, but not in a specific or super-engaged way. The problem is that this marketing tactic relies on reaching a very specific type of consumer in a somewhat manipulative manner which obscures the tantalizing allure of single-malt scotch. While it’s possible that the consumer COULD get hooked onto single malt scotch in a more engaging and long-term way, this marketing does not look for or encourage this level of commitment in a consumer. In other words, it’s a quick-sale which dovetails with a compulsive purchasing mentality, rather than a long-term consumer-brand relationship based on a rich exploration of the product.

      2. There’s a somewhat desperate need to innovate. You see this in large, successful companies. Marketing tactics seem to be borne out of a drunken night of brainstorming, cobbling together concepts in a sort of haphazard way to demonstrate something new, something flashy. The issue is that the marketing dominates the company’s core competency and the flashy exhibition somehow becomes more important, more part of the brand than its main asset. Sustainable marketing practices should elevate, even glorify a company’s core competency, but never obscure it.

    • Ralph Biscuits says:

      Are you selling whisky or running for a political office? Are we supposed to suddenly all condone this because Macallan is keeping people in jobs and donating money to charity and is practicing the fundamentals of democracy? Sheeesh, why not stand on a street corner and kiss babies too?

      And while it’s true that Macallan can do whatever they want to market themselves and make money, are they producing whisky to be drunk or are they selling art on bottles?

  9. butephoto says:

    Two words – zzz and zzz.

    Okay, technically not words but if you are sucked into this you clearly have more money than sense and can I please, pretty please, have some of your money to spend more wisely than you. Thanks.


    • John,

      ButePhoto’s comment surely gives rise to some form of competition on ‘What does John Know’

      How would your readers, some of whom never shy away from a strong opinion or two, promote and market a single malt scotch whisky in the world as we know it today or the one that we think of as tomorrow?

      I may not be able to offer up the marketing budget for The Macallan but I’m sure we could find a bottle or two of something special, the Fine Oak 21 perhaps(!) to offer up as a prize or perhaps include the best entry in an awards presentation at the upcoming WhiskyFest?

      Just a thought?


      The Macallan Ambassador USA

      • kallaskander says:

        Hi there,

        hello Graeme.

        The shocking answer probably is – we wouldn`t!

        Nor have you I mean has Macallan done so in years past.

        “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.

        Macallan said by some to be the Rolls-Royce of whiskies.

        Once renowned for their use of only Golden Promise barley (now accounts for less than 10% of production), which is malted at Tamdhu’s maltings.

        Dry oloroso sherry casks, and use of small stills, 15 in total, produce a classic speyside style. Sherry butts are shipped whole to reatin their character and water is drawn from four boreholes along a stretch of the Spey river.

        Macallan was launched as a single malt in 1980 and has grown to be one of the world’s best sellers. Used in blends such as the Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and J&B blends.

        Thirty years ago, the Macallan only had a marketing budget of £25, this was used to purchase a poster to sponsor a local shinty match.

        As long as there are such information around whisky romantics such as I can hang on to the notion that first there is a distillery which makes a whisky and finds a true fellowship who buys that whisky.
        You do not need marketing because the whisky as such speaks for itself.

        At the point where that is not enough anymore you need a markting budget. And all the other niusances which go with modern whisky making and selling.

        Scotch whisky industry just published another record year of sales and still it is not enough. It never will be as it is not about the whisky anymore but all about sales figures.

        There is no eternal growth. But there are lurking dangers in ignoring tat fact.

        The dilemma of trying to ever increase sales and production is a case of the solution being the whole problem.

        Make a point. Stop growth for growth`s sake and marketing becomes much easier – and cheaper.

        No offence meant and I do appreciate that you and Mr Grier take part in the discussion.


      • kallaskander says:

        Hi there,

        the shocking answer probably is – we wouldn`t! We would probably see no need to. Nor have you nor has Macallan respectively always done so.

        Informations like these make it easy for whisky romantics like me to hang on to a very old fashioned whisky concept.

        „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.

        Macallan said by some to be the Rolls-Royce of whiskies. Once renowned for their use of only Golden Promise barley (now accounts for less than 10% of production), which is malted at Tamdhu’s maltings. Dry oloroso sherry casks, and use of small stills, 15 in total, produce a classic speyside style. Sherry butts are shipped whole to reatin their character and water is drawn from four boreholes along a stretch of the Spey river. Macallan was launched as a single malt in 1980 and has grown to be one of the world’s best sellers. Used in blends such as the Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and J&B blends.

        Thirty years ago, the Macallan only had a marketing budget of £25, this was used to purchase a poster to sponsor a local shinty match.“

        As the whole business is all about money not whisky anymore it seems to be a case of the attempted solution being the problem.

        Scotch whisky industry only recently published another record year for whisky sales. And still it s not enough. It never will be enough what Scotch whisky industry sells.

        There is no eternal growth which is sustainable.

        Growth is the problem. When you leave behind the farm distillery concept where a distillery makes a good whisky which finds a fellowship and everbody is content you need a marketing budget and a sales force.

        Yes we are talking about modesty probably humility even. The lack thereof.

        No offence meant. I and I think we all here appreciate that you and Mr Grier take part in the discussion.


      • Steffen Bräuner says:

        Hi Graeme

        I won’t speak for others here, but I have no doubts that some are in the same consumer group as me here. Being a semi-regular poster here and many other forums, the people that tends to get emotional about whisky are probably anoraktypes like me

        I am not a loyal costumer. I tend to buy whisky from whoever I find have an interresting bottle. I don’t care at all about packaging, I care about good whisky (What I consider good whisky, = what I like) and I care about price since I buy a lot of bottles. So this kind of marketing is wasted on me. Totally. And probably also a lot others here. But does that make it wrong ?. I am not so sure about that….
        Whiskyforums have the toughest audience, I don’t think they are a measure of the market in general, but we are a part of the market still
        Now if you want to market – or bottle something that will get my attention it would have to be cheap :-), cask strength (not necesarily single cask, bit it helps on variation), simple packaging. 35cl or 50cl wouldn’t hurt either, I got a lot of whisky I want to try and if I have too many full 70cl bottles to work my way through it will limit my amount of different whiskies
        Correct me if I am wrong but I got a sample (yeah I swap samples alot) of something you already made which might fit that, a 10year old cask strength available only at distillery (I was told). It’s really good, I don’t know if its cheap but I assume so, otherwise my friend wouldn’t have bought a bottle (nor parted with a sample to me >-< ) and it reminds me that I should get around the distillery to buy a bottle next time I get to Scotland. The 10yo cask strength available at TWE right now is 225£ and that won't sell in my neighbourhood
        As I said before, I am not a loyal costumer. The effect of branding has no effect on me (I like to believe), I will be as much likely to buy a bottle of Macallan as an independent bottling of a lesser known distillery (like Tamdhu !!). I am very immune to a "seller" proclaiming that their whisky is the best in world, I have tasted enough different whiskies from all distilleries (more than any seller I met) so I know that all distilleries are capable of producing good whisky, and I know that all do, and I know that some doesnt bottle what I consider good whisky, but I know they got it..
        So the basic parameters to compete on is price and taste
        Reading the above its won't be hard to guess I like independent bottlers (I LOVE them – the last 2 bottles of macallan I bought were IB's), I like destilleries which do this bottle-your-own-straight-from-the-cask at the distillery (often very good whisky at decent prices). I like Abourlour Abunadh series and Chivas Cask Strength Series. I like a distillery like Bladnoch for their prices and bottling style (their OB's are small batch/single casks)
        Ah well, this post probably got too long and confusing, but I hope you get what I mean


        PS I can't be offended by marketing plots like the above like some others seems to be, it just doesnt work on me, the only thing that can offend me slightly is when companies try to sell £30-40 whiskies for £300-400, I know a few examples

  10. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    as I said they will not like bringing those old stories up again.

    Mr Grier I really have doubts that you are serious with this.

    “I passionately believe that our Whisky is better than anyone elses….why because 58 percent …yes we have done the math…of the flavour comes from the casks and we spend 5 times more than others cause we buy 90 percent of the Spanish sherry oak casks in the Scotch industry. Our Whisky has never been better eg Paul Pacult…and you know how honest he is…voted our 21 years old best Whisky in the world in his Ultimate Beverage Challenge just this year.”

    It may be right that you buy – or bought – 90% of the sherry casks in the industry. If that is so why do you not use them?

    Yes yes, I do not have the insight you do have into the machinations of your whisky production storage and maturation scheme.

    In other places your company has published figures about how well the Fine Oak range sells by now and how successful its introduction has been.

    Fact is and it shows in the figues you can find with in the depths of the internet that after your marketing and promotion efforts cought you were and are not able to supply the world wide demand for sherry matured Macallan. No matter how many sherry casks you buy. Or bought. After all it has to mature for some years. The whole of the whisky industry has to cope with the time lag effects when the boom is here and after it has ebbed again.

    First you have not enough then suddenly you have too much. But you had enough. But not the kind of malt the world wanted.

    You have reacted. You introduced a new range and you expanded the production and warehousing capacities. Investing takes money now you have to sell more whisky of course.

    While some think that the overall quality is not the same anymore you still have to sell to justify your investments.

    So your marketing departement works overtime and some of your campaigns do reach some of your cusomers. Others do not like them.

    That is the beauty of the whisky world that there are opinions and opinions.

    And honest, do you make that much of a ridiculous prize won at a unneccessary competition? You should not believe everything your marketing departement writes.


  11. MrTH says:

    I think most of us think that whisky marketing should be first and foremost about whisky. We all have some tolerance for BS–slogans, buzzwords, packaging–after all, a little barnyard smell in the malt can be interesting. But the BS meter gets pinned when it seems you are no longer selling whisky, but fancy crystal decanters and trendy artwork that happen to have some whisky attached to them. These things make it seem that the whisky itself is not that important. Macallan seems to have been moving in this direction for some time now. Of course, it’s intended that the cachet of such stuff will attach to the everyday offerings, but if the effect is a turn-off to some, then that’s what filters down instead. The public perception, right or wrong, of what Edrington stands for is increasingly that it’s not what we consumers care about.

    Thanks for stopping by, Mr Grier–you’re a brave man. Take heart in knowing that we who dwell in spaces like this comprise but a tiny slice of the market.

  12. Red_Arremer says:

    “For the millionth time why isn’t this blog moderated? What a nuisance.”

    I’m not attributing that view to you Ken– you didn’t say that– but amidst all the hype of free speech and democracy that’s what many of us heard. Fact is, we were just griping about a whisky product, which we think is really dumb. To savour such presumably impotent complaining as an expression of the kind of protests that they don’t allow in China, is completely unwarranted– Completely unwarranted unless one happens to have some kind of China-like scenario in mind already– Unless one is already thinking that there’s something weird about this blog not being moderated.

    Like I said– and I meant it sincerely– I do not attribute that view to you. I think you just didn’t know what to say. If you want to make your online persona that of a sypmathetic, credible, humane, and inspiring whisky lover so that those qualities will rub off on the perception of your employers and the products you represent– If you want that, then you, or some of the folks at TEG need to work up a consumer profile for bloggers like us. You really could have crafted a much more on point response. Maybe you should have John Hansell do some consulting work for you.

    Once again though Ken, thanks for posting. And I appreciate the challenges involved.

  13. I appreciate that Ken Grier took the time to make Macallan’s position clear. My own position is very much like Steffen’s. I consider myself fairly immune to marketing stunts. I don’t care about packaging and all those gimmicks at all, but I do care about price, bottling strength and manipulation of the spirit (aka caramel and chill filtering) But I also see that the marketing strategy The Macallan is pursuing seems to be quite effective nonetheless.

    Remember the Ice Ball Machine? My blog is certainly not a contestant for traffic records, but I have been receiving several hits a day from Google searches about where to buy these devices ever since I have published my “ranting” about it.

    And Ken, with your experience in the whisky industry you should know that there is no such a thing as the best whisky. Who has the final word on what is best? Jim Murray? John Hansell? Me? Serge Valentin? The Marketing Department of Edrington Group? I am not even sure if there is a “best” whisky for any individual because so much depends on the mood of the moment.

    • John Hansell says:

      Oliver, I think the “Best” quote is coming from a Paul Pacult review, which they are referencing.

      • Red_Arremer says:

        Yep. Same guy who said HP 18 was the best spirit in the world. Isn’t it interesting how much the meaning of that changes when it shifts from being an opinion that a reviewer is just remarking on to being a certified claim which is reprinted endlessly in press releases and on packaging?

      • John, you are right about Paul Pacult, but Ken Grier stated it as well in a different wording: “I passionately believe that our Whisky is better than anyone elses” which means the same to me.

        Of course any distillery official has the moral obligation to defend their product, that’s a no brainer. But saying they are better than anyone else sounds to me a lot like Mohammed Ali’s “I’m the greatest”.

      • kallaskander says:

        Hi there,

        hi John.

        On every box of The Macallan one can read on the back:

        “Respected and 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.”

        Best Whisky in the World comes from this, probably

        “The Macallan’s benchmark excellence is nowhere more evident than in the 18 Years Old expression. Voted best whisky in the world by Whisky Magazine in 2004.”

        Days gone bye.

        And another step to the Rolly Royce image might have been this:

        “Due to the unfailing regularity with which it wins, we no longer include The Macallan 18 year old in our malt tastings. We have instead enshrined it in our hall of fame.” US Quarterly Review.

        Humility is not one of the most prominent features of The Macallan`s marketing.

        And our learned colleagues should not have enshrined it. That has made it unreachable for most of us. As described below.


  14. Lawrence says:

    I am guessing that the second masters series will be very limited, much like the 1st series. Therefore it appeals to a very tiny segment of the market so I can’t see why people are so upset about it, especially since they would never have bought such an expensive whisky in the first place..(in most cases).

    I also find it instructive that the same people that are kicking up such a fuss about the photo series also objected to the proposed leather bound version of the 2010 Whisky Bible…who cares if a tiny segment of the market can buy something that appeals to them??

    As for the ice ball machine; some people actually LIKE ice in their whisky. I know it’s very odd that they walk among us but they’re customers too….it behoves Macallan to woo this segment of the market.

    It’s just business…or it’s a dram not a drama.

  15. mongo says:

    i’m not offended by this release. i think some of the anger directed at macallan on this score is really reflected anger at things macallan has done at the lower end of its range where most of us shop.

    • Red_Arremer says:

      I think you’re more or less correct mongo– But. the phrase “reflected anger” implies some sort of irrational association and that’s not what’s really going on.

      Actually, mature, heavily sherried Macallan whisky has been rationally directed (by Ken Grier and friends) out of some peoples hands and into other peoples hands– Out of the hands of the folks who used to buy the 18 regularly– Into the hands of wealthier people who buy it today– And, in carefully rationed portions, into the hands of whoever buys the Fine Oak– Into the hands of whoever is throwing down 30$ a shot for Macallan on the balls.

      It’s not “reflected anger,” but anger which has built steadily as folks have watched the slow process of something they once enjoyed and believe in being taken from them, adulterated, and given to others.

      • mongo says:

        red, i didn’t mean to imply an association of irrationality. i was trying to say to lawrence that while he’s right that most us are not going to spend a thousand dollars on one bottle anyway it still irks us because this is not an outlier in the way macallan goes about things but is also how they work across their product line. i think that anger is very rational.

        and it’s not just the 18 year old. you can get 25 year old versions of many of the great names for less than $250; good luck finding the macallan 25 for less than $500. i can appreciate paying a premium for a very successful brand, but that much?

        • Red_Arremer says:

          Sorry– I can see that now, mongo. And I think I was guilty of just browsing your post, Lawrence. So I didn’t catch the whole exchange– But Lawrence, you should listen to mongo. Anyways, our opinions about whisky producers (enthusiasm/drama) are as much a part of the whisky in our glass as our vague notions of luxury (appreciation/repose).

  16. Lawrence, I don’t want to re-heat all the old arguments here but the bottom line was not against putting ice into whisky in general but against Macallan’s marketing stunt that the ice ball was the “ultimate way” to enjoy their whisky. This is what had upset many of us.

    And rethinking all this, I think a reason why so many people have their problems with Macallan is that they feel patronised by them. They tell us their whisky is better than all the others. And they tell us that it is best enjoyed in a tumbler with an ice ball.

    Dear Macallan: It is alright to give us the option to have your whisky with a fancy ice ball. It is also alright to give us the choice between “Sherry Oak” and “Fine Oak” (By the way, is sherry oak not “fine”?) But please stop telling us what is best for us. We are mature enough to make up our own minds.

  17. kallaskander says:

    Hi there,

    see what it leads to?

    Now there is a plea…

    Please, Scotland — stop your experimenting and find some other way to boost sales. Naked women on the label, perhaps? (According to this Forbes article, that’s one strategy the desperate Highlanders are trying).

    And dear marketing people wherever you work… we bloggers are not just a bunch of lunatic weirdos who just refuse to see your light. Some more serious publications have reservations, too. If you care not about us, fine.


    Marked for moderation? Interesting.

  18. sam k says:

    Well, even here in the rarefied air of the Whisky Aficionados’ Lounge (shall we call ourselves “WAL-lies?”), the marketing department of the Edrington Group has succeeded admirably, and congratulations to them, since we’ll hit 50 comments, all on an unremarkable subject. I’ll not look back at this thread again.

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