Posts Tagged ‘The Macallan’

Examining the New Whisky Auction Record

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Author - Johnnie McCormickJonny McCormick puts the auction of The Macallan M Constantine in perspective.

Sotheby’s, Hong Kong have set a new record for the highest auction price for a bottle of whisky. On Saturday January 18th, the sum of $620,000 was reportedly paid for The Macallan “M” decanter. The Macallan partnered with Lalique to produced four ‘Imperiale’ 6-liter decanters designed by Fabien Baron. Each of the imposing vessels was named after a Roman Emperor: Caesar, Augustus, Justinian, and Constantine. It took 17 craftsmen over 50 hours to produce each statement piece, which weighed 16.8 kg (37 lbs.) when filled with whisky. The Speyside single malt whisky within is a non-age statement vatting of The Macallan from distinctive casks dating from the 1940s-1990s selected by their whisky maker, Bob Dalgarno.

So let’s take a longer look at the numbers. This sale breaks the record that stood for 1,160 days from Sotheby’s, New York for The Macallan 64 year old in Lalique Cire Perdue (hammer price $460,000). Careful checking of the Sotheby’s, HK website reveals that The Macallan (lot 212) in their Finest & Rarest Wines auction sold for HK$4 million, a figure boosted to HK$4.9million ($620,000) with the addition of the 22.5% buyer’s premium.

The Macallan M Hong Kong Auction

Hammer Time!

Due to local taxes and variable buyer’s premiums between auction houses, the only practical manner to meaningfully compare international prices is to use the hammer price. In this case, I calculate that HK$4 million to be $515,600, an increase of 12% over the previous record. Contemplate that if Sotheby’s, New York had charged 22.5% on the one-off sale of The Macallan 64 year old in Lalique Cire Perdue, the press releases of the day would have championed its sale at $563,500, not $460,000. Check the search engines and you’ll see that I’m right.

The large format of the bottle, (unique in The Macallan’s history) undoubtedly contributes to its value. You will recall that world records were claimed for the Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts 55 year old when it was first auctioned. However, it was The Macallan 64 year old in Lalique Cire Perdue 1.5L, not the Glenfiddich, which was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records.

The Macallan M is a 6-liter decanter, so I make that an equivalent value of $64,450 per 750 ml (or $2,580 for a 1oz. pour; and there are 200 pours inside). The Macallan 64 year old in Lalique Cire Perdue was a 1.5L ship’s decanter, so by the same measures, that’s worth $230,000 per 750 ml. For comparison, the top price paid for Glenfiddich Janet Sheed Roberts 1955 was $94,000 for a standard sized bottle. However, Lalique is highly collectable and the desirability of a beautiful object of this magnitude can transcend the boundaries of whisky collecting. Standing at 28 inches tall, The Macallan M is definitely no standard bottle.

You can be too big, of course. The world’s largest bottle of single malt whisky, authenticated by the Guinness Book of Records, is a 105.3 liter bottle of 14 year old Tomintoul. It was valued at $164,000 to $246,000, but failed to sell at auction when offered last December. I don’t imagine it’s an easy pour at that size, but that’s still a staggering $1,168 per 750 ml at the low estimate! It can work both ways. A miniature of Karuizawa 1964 48 year old sold at an online auction last year for £1,100, the equivalent of $27,000 per 750 ml, even though a full bottle fetched a mere $6,000 at Bonhams, New York.

Well then, does age matter? It is noteworthy that the upper echelons of the list of top prices for auctioned whisky bottles are untroubled by non-age statement whiskies. Until now, that is. The Macallan M is a balance of some very old whiskies with younger whisky from the 1990s. Clearly, an age statement of around 20 years would have been legally accurate but inelegant and inappropriate to competently describe Bob Dalgarno’s creation. The Dalmore Oculus in 2009 (now the 14th most expensive bottle auctioned) is the closest equivalent project that comes to mind. Even so, it’s interesting to note that the majority of the most expensive whisky bottles ever auctioned were bottled in the 21st century and sold to collectors from new by the producers.

How about the charity angle? The proceeds of the hammer price will benefit charities in Hong Kong. Sotheby’s have agreed to donate part of their $100,000 buyer’s premium too. Although four ‘Imperiale’ M decanters were made, this was the only public offering. Two others sit in The Macallan archive and one was sold before the auction (not for charity) to a collector in Asia. That matters, as Bowmore found in 2012, following their two unsuccessful attempts to auction the Bowmore 1957 54 year old for $160,000 for charity when there were eight similar bottles for sale on Islay at the same price (and without the competition). The Bowmore 1964 auctioned for £61,000 at last October’s Distillers’ Charity Auction demonstrated just how well they could execute a one-off spectacular.

Lastly, how does the location of the sale in Hong Kong reflect on the auction market? Both decanters of The Macallan M have been sold in Asia. Sotheby’s wine department does not routinely deal with rare whiskies other than working in conjunction with The Macallan. Bonhams 2013 sales in Hong Kong were very impressive, and it has become one of the strongest growing markets for whisky auctions on the planet.

My congratulations go to The Macallan, Lalique, Baron & Baron, and Sotheby’s, on this outstanding achievement, not forgetting the successful bidder. I recognize this record as the world’s most expensive bottle of whisky ever sold at live auction (although history books should record the HK$4 million hammer price). Furthermore, I wager that only The Macallan can potentially break this record at present.

Scotland: a Quick Trip

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Whisky Advocate’s managing editor, Lew Bryson, reports on his recent trip to Scotland.

I was invited to join a press trip to Highland Park distillery recently. I accepted, and added on two days of my own to visit other distilleries in the Highlands. The trip was last week, and after a pleasant Sunday afternoon in the cask ale bars of Edinburgh, we flew up to Kirkwall on Orkney on a brisk Monday morning, dropped our bags at the Lynnfield Hotel, and went to the distillery. We stood in the courtyard, smelling the peat burning in the maltings, looking at tubs filled with tiny daffodils, and feeling the sleet fall lightly on our heads and shoulders. That’s Orkney for you.

Highland Park does floor malting of about 20% of its malt, and smokes it all with Orkney peat to between 35 and 50 ppm of phenols. IMG_0098The local peat is unique, and densely layered with heather. We went out to the peat cuttings the following day, and could see heather roots right down to the 5,000 year level. The other 80% of the malt is unpeated and is bought in. The 80/20 blend is the same in all mashing, and yields the familiarly gentle peat character of Highland Park, with a phenol level of about 2 ppm in the spirit.

Highland Park’s whisky is all aged in oloroso sherry-seasoned casks; some made from American oak, some from Spanish oak (about 50/50), but all sherry (which made for an amusing “Ah HA!” moment when we spotted a small number of port pipes; they were experimental, and may never make it to a bottling). They vary the ratios of American/ Spanish and first-fill/refill to get different character for the different bottlings. The 30 Year Old, for instance, has no first-fill casks; the 25 Year Old is 50% first-fill casks.

It was broadly hinted to us that the Edrington Group would like to reserve as much Highland Park as possible for single malt bottling (they’ve already cut back on the amount of barrels being released to independent bottlers). With the same kind of demand driving things at The Macallan, you wonder what the future is for Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark.

IMAG0616After a fascinating second day getting the Orkney experience—standing stones, cliffs, more sleet, a Neolithic chamber tomb, the peat bogs, Scapa Flow, and fish and chips in a harborside pub—we left Kirkwall Wednesday morning, and I rented a car to drive to Speyside. My first stop was The Macallan, where my guide, Ian Duncan, told me that they’re now running 24/7 every day of the year, except for three weeks of maintenance in July. Yes, every day of the year, even Christmas and New Year’s, which is how they’re putting out 9.2 million liters a year (even given their “curiously small stills”).

The visitor center has an excellent display on wood, which shows the structure of oak, explaining how oak is watertight, but also, very slowly, breathes. The oak they’re largely looking at, of course, is Spanish and American oak used in sherry casks, which now cost The Macallan about £650 each, compared to £500 only two years ago. Do yourself a favor: drink more sherry!

Unfortunately, since I was traveling solo, I wasn’t able to taste anything, so I pushed on to The Glenlivet, where I was met by international brand ambassador Ian Logan. It was a bit late in the afternoon, so we had the place largely to ourselves, and we paused for a moment in the new distillation hall, a soaring place with a grand view across the valley. The stills are oil-fired, but natural gas is coming: I’d been held up by the construction along the way. The new stills are in addition to the old ones and give the distillery a capacity of 10.5 million liters a year, trying to keep up with a booming demand that had increased sales of Glenlivet from 2,500 cases a year in the 1970s to 250,000 cases in 2001, and an amazing 825,000 cases in 2012.

I asked Ian about the still geometry; why are the stills at Glenlivet shaped the way they are? He called over brewer Richard Clark, who cocked his head and said, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it. But really, that’s what it is. Whatever the reason they were built the way they were, keep doing it the same way, because that’s how your spirit is.”

That led us into a discussion of quality vs. consistency. The distillation here is highly consistent because of automation. That’s not necessarily higher quality every time, Ian noted, but it makes for a regularly higher level overall, and it’s always the same. Automation may make a smaller workforce possible—there are ten people making the whisky here—but it’s still the people who make the whisky, he said.

Then we had a chat about limits. The last downturn in the industry was in the 1980s, Ian said, but Chivas kept making whisky, and Glenlivet is set for older whiskies because of that. “It will turn down again,” he said. “It always does. Everything does. Everything is cyclical.” There are other limits on growth; everyone I talked to on this trip had water on their mind, a limiting factor even here in rainy Scotland as production expands in response to demand.

I drove on up past Inverness, and spent the night at The Anderson in Fortrose, owned by an old acquaintance from Philly, Jim IMG_0160Anderson (and he has a great whisky bar). It was a short drive to Tain the next morning, where Annette MacKenzie took me around a quiet Glenmorangie that was slowly coming back to life after annual maintenance. They did a total refurbishment three years ago, and are looking at 6 million liters production this year.

It was quiet at the distillery, but things were stirring. Malt was being delivered, and steam was slowly being turned back on. “Good to hear the noise!” Annette called to the stillman. Then she told me that because the sounds of the steam and the bubbles and the gushes of the stillhouse are so important, and the stillman leans to listen to every little nuance, “You can’t sneak up on a stillman.”

I drove back southeast, backtracking to The Dalmore, where Shauna Jennens took me around. We saw the two sets of stills—the “little rascals” and the “big bastards”—with the odd flat tops of the wash stills and the unique cooling water jackets of the spirit stills.

“It’s an unbalanced distilling system,” explained stillman Mark Hallas. “The spirit’s different coming off the different stills, but over 24 hours it balances. It’s all manually controlled, they call it ‘dynamic distillation.’” He grinned. “Automate it all you want, the most important part is the meat in the machine.” He grinned again, and tapped the side of his head.

The meat in the machine at Dalmore that everyone knows best is Richard Paterson’s nose, of course, and though he wasn’t there that morning, his presence was palpable: in videos, in pictures, and in the complicated blending that’s done with six different casks and finishes for the single malts. Even a simple nose like mine noticed that the smell in these dunnage warehouses, right beside the Cromarty Firth, is unique: malt, wood, stemmy grape, and salt.

And here I did finally give in and have a small drink of Matusalem oloroso sherry; “good stuff,” as Shauna pronounced it, and it was rich, fruity, and delicious. We followed it with a bare quarter-ounce of King Alexander III, and the relation was clear. It was a very good moment, looking out the window, across the sun-beaten firth, ready to push on.

IMG_0171Push on I did, with one more stop before heading back to the Edinburgh airport to fly home. I drove east to Elgin, and then up the Spey to Rothes, where I met Fiona Toovey for a tour of Forsyths, the still manufacturers. Once kitted out with reflective vest and steel-toed shoes, we walked the yard, full of coppersmiths banging away with hammers of differing sizes, saw the large pits for the mechanical hammers, and the shop where Forsyths rides out the cyclical whisky industry with work on specialized steel welding and shaping for the gas and oil drilling industry.

They were gearing up for the summer maintenance period here as well. A warehouse was filling with new and refurbished stills and condensers, and a small army of fitters would swarm on them to get them into quiet distilleries during the short summer break. Things are good at Forsyths, and only getting better as more major distillery expansions are announced.

That was the end of my trip, but for the intensely scenic drive down to Edinburgh (and a quick stop to take a few pictures at Tullibardine for my sister). The Scotch whisky industry is successful and expanding, and looking challenges straight in the eye. Where will the water come from to make the whisky? Where will the wood come from for sherry aging? Where will the money come from to build more warehouses than current sales need (but future sales depend on)? Time will tell. For now, all is well in the glens and on the islands.

Miscellaneous whisky news

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I’m still catching up on all the whisky news, being on vacation last week and then with all the Bruichladdich happenings earlier this week. (Not to mention this thing called a magazine we’re trying to put together.) You may have seen some of this information floating around, but in case you didn’t…

Sullivans Cove whisky is finally being imported to the U.S.

From the press release:

“Building on its ever-growing global success, Sullivans Cove, the multi award winning Tasmanian Single Malt, is sending its first shipment to the USA this month. Currently exporting to ten countries across Europe, as well as Singapore and Canada, the USA is the next step in the international roll-out of the brand.”

Yellow Spot is as good as I hoped it would be

I finally got a chance to taste Yellow Spot Irish Whiskey this week and must say that I was very impressed. I can’t imagine any true Irish whiskey enthusiast not liking this. (Yes, I know it’s not available in the U.S., but find a way to get a bottle.

Big brand changes at Macallan

So, this is what I’m being told my my Macallan PR contact:

” The new 1824 Series is being introduced into the UK over the next 6 months. The first expression (a UK exclusive) will replace 10 Sherry Oak and Fine Oak expressions and next three variants will be introduced in April next year to extend the range.  These will ultimately replace 12 Sherry 0ak and 15 Fine Oak in the UK, and other relevant markets in due course.

The Macallan 1824 Series is built on the principle of natural colour, one of our Six Pillars. We believe this approach is both innovative and forward looking in the Scotch whisky industry. This new range has been driven by colour first and foremost with the character derived from the colour. The idea was to look at a broad range of casks which delivered a specific colour, then work with the character these casks delivered.  This range moves us aware from bourbon cask maturation as it is 100% sherry cask matured, but we continue to use both European and American oak.

At this time we are focused on the UK element of this launch as it is the first market to take this range.Only certain markets at the  moment are slated for change but the majority of brand sales and the range in  our largest markets will remain in Sherry and Fine Oak for the foreseeable future.”

A great Bowmore most of you won’t be able to afford

Still, I feel abliged to at least mention it. It’s the new “Bowmore 1964 Fino.” The details: 72 bottles (8 for the U.S.) at $13,500. I just tasted this whisky and feel it’s up there in quality with the other high-end Bowmores (Black, White, and Gold), which means, I really liked it. If you win the lottery this week, buy a bottle or two. And then share it with your friends, okay?

And finally…Early Times Fire Eater

To balance out the ink I gave to Bowmore, I’ll tell you about this new product. Straight from my press release:

“Early Times Fire Eater combines the heat and spice of cinnamon liqueur with aged Early Times whisky to craft a warm, inviting and smooth whisky character. For enjoying as a shot, on the rocks or in a variety of cocktails, Early Times Fire Eater offers cocktails like the ‘Elephant Man’ and the ‘Stilt Walker’ to reflect various carnival acts.

‘With Early Times Fire Eater we wanted to deliver a level of curiosity and fun while ensuring the taste consumers have come to expect from Early Times,’ said Therese McGuire, brand manager for Early Times. ‘One look at a bottle of Early Times Fire Eater and you’re taken back to a time when carnivals would travel the country bringing astonishing acts of amazement to the community.’

As the bottle suggests, Early Times Fire Eater evokes an old world carnival feel and an exciting flavor experience. Additionally, the illustration of a big top carnival tent encompasses the bottle with bold red and white stripes.

‘Building on the theme of curiosity, vivid carnival imagery and language are used on the packaging for Early Times Fire Eater,’ said McGuire. ‘A silhouette of a carnival barker with an uplifted cane invites one to ‘step right up’ while the side panel warns ‘it is not for the timid’ for a lighthearted approach to this exciting product.’

Early Times Fire Eater will initially be sold in select cities of Kentucky, Indiana, Washington, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Wisconsin and California with more to follow in 2012. Each bottle is presented at 66 proof with a suggested retail price of $14.99-$15.99 for a 750ml bottle.”

No, I haven’t tried it yet. Have a good weekend everyone.

Whisky Advocate Award: Speyside Single Malt of the Year

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Macallan Royal Wedding Limited Edition, 46.8%, £150

Okay, this is long gone, and is now either an investment or another whisky fueling the speculative bubble, but rarity isn’t the reason I’ve chosen it as my top Speyside release. Neither is it because of fealty to the Royal Family. Rather this, for me, was a whisky that countered the sniping which has been targeted at Macallan for a number of years: that it was too expensive, that it was pursuing the luxury market to the detriment of quality, that it wasn’t as good as it used to be.

This bottling showed that Macallan continues to do what it has always done best: use high-quality sherry wood to produce a single malt with resonant depth of flavor — and intent. Great Macallan is one of those drams whose presence forces you to pay attention to the slow unfolding of flavors in its depths. This bottling had that quality, and in doing so it eloquently answered its critics. —Dave Broom

Join us tomorrow for the announcement of Whisky Advocate’s Islay Single Malt of the Year Award.

Review: Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Macallan Sherry Oak 18 year old, 43%, $118

Macallan’s 18 year old expression is, for me, the highlight of its regular sherried range. Deep amber in color. The nose is rich and heavily fruited: fruit cake, mulberry, a little moist gingerbread, the bloody depths of molasses. On the palate, dried fruits — more figgy than raisined — while the natural oiliness in the spirit balances the boisterous tannins from the European oak. A singed note on the finish (an extension of the molasses?) completes the picture. Balanced and complex. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 91

Review: Macallan Royal Wedding

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Macallan Royal Wedding, 46.8%, £150

Rising above the tat issued to celebrate the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton was this extremely limited (1,000 bottles) release from The Macallan. The nose is a mélange of rich fruits, marzipan, and beeswax/resin but it lifts with a drop of water to show apricot and heavy florals. The palate isn’t overly grippy, with more orange peel, almond, and characteristic oiliness. A malty/nutty smooth finish makes this a great one. —Dave Broom

Advanced Malt Advocate magazine rating: 92

(Not available in the U.S.)

The leading single malt scotch brands in the U.S. (I think #5 might surprise you!)

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Here they are, according to IMPACT DATABANK

US – Leading Single Malt Scotch Whisky Brands
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
  Percent Change
Rank Brand Importer 2008 2009 2010 2008-2009 2009-2010
1 The Glenlivet Pernod Ricard USA 285 286 309 0.4% 8.0%
2 The Macallan Rémy Cointreau USA 125 125 134 0.0% 7.2%
3 Glenfiddich William Grant & Sons USA 102 100 107 -2.0% 7.0%
4 The Balvenie William Grant & Sons USA 47 50 55 6.4% 10.0%
5 McClelland’s White Rock Distilleries 49 52 54 6.1% 3.8%
6 Glenmorangie Moët-Hennessy USA 37 43 52 16.2% 20.9%
  Total Top Six 645 656 711 1.7% 8.4%
Source: IMPACT DATABANK

 

McClellands? That certainly surprised me! Anything surprise you?

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

Thursday, 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.

ANNOUNCING MASTERS OF PHOTOGRAPHY II
INTRODUCING ALBERT WATSON

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 www.blog.themacallan.com.

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.

-Ends-

Please enjoy our brands responsibly.  www.drinkaware.co.uk

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

The Macallan in Lalique: Cire Perdue

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Macallan has announced their newest release in the Lalique decanter line. This time it’s 64 years old, just one bottle, and it will be auctioned off for charity. (Press release below.)

I know that some of you have complained about old, ultra-expensive bottles being released. Auctioning off the bottle for charity is a noble effort.

The Macallan and Lalique launch THE MACALLAN 64 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT WHISKY IN LALIQUE : CIRE PERDUE

 Following an Eight Month, Global Fundraising Exhibition, Sotheby’s to Auction this One-of-a-Kind Piece in New York with all Proceeds Benefitting charity: water

Paris, April 6, 2010:  Iconic luxury brands The Macallan and Lalique have come together again on the 150th anniversary of Rene Lalique’s birth, building on their highly successful partnership to produce a one-of-a-kind decanter, created by the ancient “cire perdue” or “lost wax” method. This decanter will hold the oldest and rarest Macallan ever bottled by this highly regarded distillery. The Macallan in Lalique Cire Perdue decanter contains a 64 years old Macallan single malt whisky, destined for final auction by Sotheby’s on November 15, 2010 in New York. All of the proceeds of this remarkable piece will be donated to charity: water, a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.  In an eight month traveling exhibit and fundraising journey, The Macallan in Lalique: Cire Perdue decanter will travel around the world from Paris to New York via Madrid, London, Moscow, Seoul, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Taipei, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. 

The Cire Perdue decanter has been designed by the legendary French crystal house Lalique, exclusively for The Macallan. Painstakingly hand crafted with the skills for which Lalique has achieved world-wide recognition and renowned since the first fabulous glass pieces were designed and made by Rene Lalique in the first half of the twentieth century, the inspiration for the design has come from the beauty of The Macallan’s 150 hectare estate in north-eastern Scotland.

David Cox, Director of Fine & Rare Whiskies for The Macallan, comments: “We have established a very close working relationship with Lalique over the past six years. We share a heritage based on a commitment to craftsmanship and creativity, underpinned by a genuine passion to strive for the best in all our endeavours. This extraordinary project has raised our partnership to new heights, combining the brilliance of Lalique’s designers and craftsmen and the outstanding quality and character from the masters of spirit and wood at The Macallan to produce a single decanter which will never be replicated, filled with the oldest and rarest Macallan our distillery has ever released. Having decided to donate the proceeds from the auction of this beautiful decanter and its rarest of whiskies to charity, we decided to partner with charity: water. Given the predictions of future water shortages and recent natural catastrophes, we felt we wanted to contribute something really positive to help. We are hoping for some extraordinary generosity at the final auction in New York in November.”

“We are delighted that the proceeds from this historic auction of The Macallan in Lalique: Cire Perdue decanter will benefit charity: water,” said Scott Harrison, founder of charity: water.  “Clean water projects bring communities together and offer improved health, a better quality of life and hope for a better future. I look forward to working closely with The Macallan and Lalique to bring clean water to some of the billion people on the planet without it.”

“Water is fundamental to the craftsmanship behind both The Macallan and Lalique,” continued Cox. “The word “whisky” derives from the Latin, “aqua vitae”, or “water of life”, and is one of the three natural ingredients of The Macallan, together with barley and yeast. Water is also critical for Lalique at the point of detailing, sanding and polishing the crystal pieces.”

The 64 years old Macallan has been vatted together from three casks, all built from sherry seasoned Spanish oak. The first was filled in 1942, the second in 1945 and the third in January 1946, from which the age of this great Macallan has been taken.

This Macallan is so rare for a couple of reasons; firstly The Macallan is widely recognized as one of the few single malts which can mature to a great age without losing its character to the powerful influence of Spanish oak maturation casks, seasoned with sherry, for which The Macallan is particularly well-known. The Macallan’s rich, oily spirit ensures the whisky achieves a balance and depth of aromas and flavours over many years in these casks, a balance often sought, but rarely achieved; secondly, this is the oldest Macallan ever released by the distillery in its 186 year history. Prior to the release of this 64 years old Macallan in the Cire Perdue decanter, the previous oldest Macallan released by the distillery was the 60 years old, distilled in 1926 and bottled in 1986, of which only forty bottles were ever produced.

Character of The Macallan 64 years old:

  • The 64 years old Macallan has a lovely rich oak colour.
  • On the nose, notes of peat smoke, dried orange peel, muscovado sugar and cedar wood, mixed with spicy cinnamon sticks and cloves.
  • On the palate, spicy, blood oranges, rosin, treacle, walnuts, cocoa chocolate and peat smoke.
  • The finish is soft, smooth and spicy, with lingering peats and dark chocolate

The decanter has been designed at Lalique’s Design Studio in Paris, based upon a ship’s decanter of the 1820’s, the decade in which The Macallan was founded, in 1824. Lalique’s designer felt the shape lent itself perfectly to the beautifully crafted panorama of The Macallan estate by the river Spey, in north east Scotland.

Lalique’s designer and craftsmen then worked to highlight the beauty of The Macallan’s estate, with its fields of barley, its woodlands, the river Spey flowing past its borders to the south and Easter Elchies House, The Macallan’s spiritual home built in 1700, lying at the heart of the estate.

The Macallan’s estate is unique among Scotch whisky distilleries. Spreading over 150 hectares on a plateau above the River Spey, this beautiful place has sustained generations of farmers and landowners over the centuries. Today, many of its fields grow the exclusive barley which lies at the heart of The Macallan spirit, while spring water from the estate boreholes combine with the barley and yeast to create the sublime single malt that is The Macallan. Among the estate woods grow mighty oak trees, which echo the oaks of northern Spain and the United States from which The Macallan’s exceptional casks are made, and which contribute so much of the final character of the whisky.

The decanter itself has been created by the lost wax process, an ancient practice originally developed to cast large pieces in bronze. After first modelling a piece in wax, it is covered with plaster and then sent to the oven to bake the clay while the wax melts. Finally, molten crystal is poured in the emptied shape.  Up until 1930, Rene Lalique himself crafted glass pieces using the Cire Perdue technique, but abandoned it as arthritis increasingly affected his fingers.

Today, investing in the artistic and technical training of its artists to master again this extraordinary know-how, a new workshop has been created on the 150th anniversary of Rene Lalique’s birth in 1860, dedicated entirely to the ‘lost wax’ process, to make the first Cire Perdue pieces in eighty years, including The Macallan 64 years old in Lalique. Every piece is unique. Complex, time consuming and costly, the process is reserved for the ultimate pieces. The technique brings to light a fineness of detail never seen before and a unique texture that is likened to a « crystal skin, giving each piece a truly realistic and vivid aspect.

Silvio Denz, President and CEO of Lalique, commented, “We are enormously proud to be collaborating again with The Macallan, and in such a worthwhile cause.  In today’s highly interconnected world, we are all increasingly aware of the needs of those much less fortunate than ourselves. We have been working on a series of decanters with The Macallan since 2004 and, over that time, have come to appreciate our shared values of a passionate commitment to outstanding quality, artistry and integrity. These decanters, each holding Macallan whiskies of 50, 55 and 57 years old respectively, have proved hugely admired and sought after around the world by whisky consumers and connoisseurs, as well as collectors of Lalique crystal and lovers of beautiful objets d’art. This latest decanter, a remarkable, unique work of art, holding such an old and rare Macallan, takes our partnership to a new level. I wish every success to its “tour du monde” and to the final auction by Sotheby’s in New York in November”.

Macallan’s new “Ice Ball Serve”

Monday, 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?

PRESS RELEASE

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:

London:
Rules                                 
The Ritz Hotel                                 
Claridges                                        
The Connaught Bar, The Connaught Hotel, London
The Dorchester Hotel, London
Hawksmoor
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                

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

Yorkshire:
Oulton Hall, near Leeds, West Yorkshire