The Macallan is one of the most highly revered whisky brands in the world. It is the third largest selling single malt whisky in the world and the second largest by value. The name Macallan is thought to have derived from the two Gaelic words, ‘Magh’, and ‘Ellan’, meaning ‘fertile ground’ and ‘of St Fillan’ respectively – St Fillan is thought to be an Irish monk that spread the Christian word throughout Scotland in the 8th Century.
The Macallan distillery is located in Craigellachie, Moray in the Highlands of Scotland were it was founded back in 1824, by Alexander Reid. As the Macallan’s reputation grew, its sales continued to increase throughout the 20th Century and major expansion took place between 1951 and 1963. In 1999, a majority shareholding was bought by The Edrington Group.
The Macallan Distillery used to be called the Elchies Distillery, and is home to its now famous small-stills which are made from traditional copper. The unusually small size of the copper stills gives the spirit a rich, full-bodied and fruity character, these stills are so famous in Scotland that they can be seen on the £10 bank note! From these stills, Macallan ensure that only 16% of the spirit produced makes it to the cask, which is why they are often dubbed “the best of the best” and is testament to the distilleries dedication to high quality.
It is astonishing to reflect that, although it was highly regarded by blenders (and ranked Top Class), Macallan was hardly known as a single malt until the early 1980s. Today, of course, it is a global brand, commanding nearly 10% of the malt whisky market, and supported by an eye-watering advertising budget! Its launch in 1980 was an immediate success, in Italy, the U.S.A. and France as well as the home market. In four years, sales increased by 120% and the brand was ranked 5th in the world.
Macallan has also led the way at auction. In 1986 a bottle of 50YO sold for £900, and next year a bottle of 60YO set a world record of £5,500. In January 2013, a six-litre bottle – one of only four, made by Lalique – was sold by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong for £381,620!
The Macallan fine spirit is matured in oak casks sourced from Spain and America, during this traditional maturation the whisky is gifted its rich colour – a characteristic typical of The Macallan range.