The Macallan, probably the most meticulously made single malt whisky in the world.

The “Merry Men of Sherry Wood” did it again and released a palate-baffling expression of their  single malt whisky, named: Edition N°4. This Edition was created to celebrate the opening of their new, breathtakenly beautiful distillery. Below we present you a very short introduction of the brand and how we see it, as well as the reason why a bottle of The Macallan is the ultimate Christmas gift.

This is the stuff of legends!

Huge! Is one of the words that came up in our minds when we were told the Macallan story by Brand Ambassador Carl Van Droogenbroeck. They have no less then 320.000 casks in different warehouses plus their new distillery has a stunning 36 stills and a huge washtun of 17 tons. The large numbers make it all the more stunning that each and every single bottle of the amber coloured liquid is a work of perfection. 

The Macallan Whisky is now part of the Edrington Group (Highland Park, Macallan, Glenrothes, Famous grouse) and was once created by Alexander Reed around 1824, but it was a gentleman called Roderick Kemp who took over the helm in 1892 and came up with the then visionary idea to use only sherry casks to flavour their single malt. It is what The Macallan is known for, but there is much more than that. Fun fact: before Macallan, Kemp owned the Talisker distillery and the Kemps stayed in the family trust up and until 1996. It was a public quoted company for a short while until The Edrington Group finally took it out of public ownership. A rather important event, because it safeguarded the unique approach of The Macallan. They can continue making Macallan how they want it and not how the shareholder wants it. 

The circle you see, normally, would have contained another 17 tonnes whastun, but upon second thought they decided that one was enough! 

What is this unique approach then, I hear you ask? Well, to put it simply: they are the Wizards Of Wood. Absolute cask-nerds! But in a good way. I say, the perfect way! For instance they only use three types of casks: Sherry filled American Oak, Sherry filled European Oak and Ex-Bourbon Barrels (because: why not). And with only these three they produce a gazillion of different, unique expressions! How do they do that? Well, when these people need a sherry cask they don’t put a message on Facebook reading: “Looking for sherry casks. Please PM if you got a spare.” No.

Toasting the barrels.

They go to some remote forest in Europe and select the very trees from which the casks will be made. Then they selected the 4 best sherry cooperages in the world: Hudosa & Vasyma for the American Oak and Tevasa & Jose Martin for European Oak. Together with them they produce what is widely known as the Perfect Sherry Casks and fill them with 5 different types of Olorosso sherry. Try to keep track of all the parameters here and keep in mind that each tree is unique: x-number of trees, in two types of different oak, handled by four different cooperages into hogsheads, butts and puncheons which are then filled with five different Olorossos for up to eighteen months after which they are transported to Speyside and filled with newmake spirit. Finally to be matured for at least eight years.

It takes more than seven years to be a cooper that is able to make sherry casks fit enough for The Macallan.

Aaaand you have 320.000 casks of this? Well, then indeed you can make a very interesting number of combinations, won’t you say? Let’s conclude by saying that sherry casks is their thing. It is so much ‘their thing’, that it is actually nobody else’s thing. No sane human being would try to challenge, left alone succeed in achieving, the same state of cask mastery as the Macallan. I mean, one batch of Macallan whisky is created with approximately 60 different casks, selected by nose only!!! Also the way how they cut their newmake spirit is quite unique. They use a relatively small portion of the heart, if I recall correctly, which results in the fact that the payload of the flavourbomb is delivered veeeeery smoothly!

A look inside the new distillery. 

To further showcase the Macallan’s capability for cask sorcery, Carl let us taste 3 different Macallans, all of them 12 years old and on first sight all of them in seemingly identical bottles. You could easily be fooled into thinking that you’re about to taste three almost identical whiskies. Nothing is further from the truth. Because the first one was a Triple Cask (American Oak, European Oak and Bourbon casks), the second was a Double Cask (Am. & Eu. Oak) and the third was the Sherry Oak (almost completely Eu. Oak). Three very different single malts. All of them exceptional in flavour, all of them 12 years old and only three barrels between them. 

UK. Scotland. Moray. Craigellachie. Construction of the new Macallan distillery. May 2018.

Back to the Green one or Edition N°4 as it is officially known. This whisky knows no rival! It is awesome. A total of seven different sherry casks and bottled at a hefty 48,4% ABV turns this Macallan in a truly unique whisky experience. Quite fittingly to celebrate the opening of a very unique new distillery. Edition N°4 is a real masterpiece by Nick Savage, Master Distiller of The Macallan, it is strong and robust at first, smoothes out in the middle and then spices up in the  ever ongoing aftertaste. The amount of different flavours is uncountable, every sip you take, tells a different story with the same characters. It is mind blowing, an instant favourite of mine.

The new distillery is a story in itself. The roof, for example, is a flowing, hilly meadow of turf. They had to use 14000 square meters of turf to achieve this. And it’s alive! An intelligent irrigation system was installed to make sure it wouldn’t die or dry out. The roof rests upon a very impressive structure of 4000 tonnes of steel and fine wood (of course), housing the 36 stills and 17 tonnes washtun. The first impression when you see it must be something like: “I’m in the Shire from the Lord Of The Rings movies”. Yet, after a couple of Macallans you say: “Forget the Shire, I’m in heaven!”

UK. Scotland. Moray. Craigellachie. Construction of the new Macallan distillery. May 2018.

Evidently, you know what to buy for Christmas now! 


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