Macallan is a scotch distillery located in Craigellachie, Scotland in the Speyside scotch producing region. They are owned by the Edrington group, who also own Highland Park, Glenrothes, The Famous Grouse, Brugal Rum, and Noble Oak bourbon. Macallan is regularly in the top three highest selling scotches annually, competing with Glenfiddich and Glenlivet for the top spot. Macallan is a well regarded single malt and can be found behind bars across the world.
- Sherry Oak
Defined by its rich, spicy notes of wood and dried fruits, as well as a nose of light vanilla, the sherry oak 12 year bottle of Macallan is one of their most popular bottles. Aged for 12 years in handpicked Spanish oloroso sherry casks, this whisky is bottled at 43% ABV for the American market. The Sherry Oak line also includes 18, 25, 30, and 40 year bottlings.
- Double Cask
The Macallan Double Cask undergoes aging in Oloroso sherry casks made from both Spanish and American oak. Golden in color, these bottlings highlight the warm, woody characteristics of their casks. Notes of butterscotch and toffee mingle with candied orange and mellow custard in these bottles. The double cask 12 year is bottled at 40% ABV, but there are 15 and 18 year bottlings available as well. There is also a Double Cask Gold bottling which is thinner and lighter in color, bottled without an age statement.
- Triple Cask
The Macallan Triple Cask line is aged in both American and Spanish oloroso sherry casks as well as in American ex-bourbon casks. Previously known as Macallan Fine Oak, these bottlings are famous for their velvety texture and vibrant flavor. The addition of the bourbon cask adds a strong note of vanilla to the equation, as well as a bit of sweetness. Lemon citrus and toasted oak round out some of the more apparent flavors in this line. The 12 year is bottled at 40% ABV however the line also includes 15 and 18 year bottlings.
The Quest collection was created exclusively for duty-free and travel retail and is bottled without an age statement. The line consists of Quest, Lumina, Terra, and Enigma bottlings. While these bottles are likely made using younger whisky not destined for the classic line of age statement Macallan bottles, they are available tax-free and make a nice gift for a gracious host or a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Bottled between 40- 44% ABV.
- Rare Cask
Rare cask is a no age statement bottle from Macallan designed to highlight the impact of their exceptional casks. Unlike the Quest line, the lack of age statement is likely not an indication of a younger product here. The whisky in this bottle is handpicked by Macallans Master Distiller for its representation of the wood used in casking. Bottled at 43% ABV.
- Master Decanter
The Master Decanter series is another selection of age statement-less bottles from Macallan, and similar to the Rare cask, is hand-selected by the Master Distiller for its superior qualities. The line includes Macallan M, Macallan No.6, Macallan Reflexion, and Macallan M Black. The Macallan M Black is a rarity among Macallan bottles in that it has a smokier profile. This line is bottled in Lalique crystal decanters.
Macallan Whisky Pricing
The majority of its product line is as cheap as your regular whiskies found in walk-in wine shops – although some varieties can have pretty exorbitant pricing; particularly the rare and old ones.
Below are the comprehensive Macallan prices:
|Type||Bottle Size||Starting Price|
|The Macallan Sherry Oak 12 Years Old||750ml||$66.99|
|The Macallan Sherry Oak 18 Years Old||750ml||$299.99|
|The Macallan Sherry Oak 25 Years Old||750ml||$1999.99|
|The Macallan Sherry Oak 30 Years Old||750ml||$3999.99|
|The Macallan Double Cask Gold||750ml||$65.99|
|The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old||750ml||$59.99|
|The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old||750ml||$134.99|
|The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old||750ml||$329.99|
|The Macallan Triple Cask Matured 12 Years Old||750ml||$64.99|
|The Macallan Triple Cask Matured 15 Years Old||750ml||$136.99|
|The Macallan Triple Cask Matured 18 Years Old||750ml||$329.99|
|The Macallan Rare Cask||750ml||$250.00|
|The Macallan Reflexion||750ml||$1599.99|
|The Macallan M||750ml||$5600.00|
|The Macallan No. 6||750ml||$4499.99|
- Macallan Fine & Rare Speyside Scotch Whisky (1940 to 1952) : $34,000 to $42,000
- Macallan M Black Series Scotch: $12,650
- Macallan Scotch Exceptional Single Cask 2018 (12 to 25yrs): $4,600 to $15,000
- Macallan Scotch Exceptional Single Malt 2017 – 25 Years: $5,300
- Macallan Fine And Rare (1937 to 1991): $10,000 to $37,000
- Macallan 1824 Series No. 6 In Lalique Highland: $6,600
- Macallan 1824 Series Scotch Reflexion Speyside-Highland: $3,300
- Macallan Scotch Vi In Lalique 65Yr: $45,000
- Macallan Scotch 2018 Release 86Pf 30Yr: $6,900
- Macallan Scotch Sherry 88Pf 40Yr: $22,000
- Macallan Scotch Highland 110.4Pf 1989 Vintage: $6,600
The Speyside region of Scotland is the most prolific Scotch producing region in Scotland and possibly in the world. There are many Speyside scotches to choose from when looking for something comparable to Macallan, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Here are a few to look out for.
Produced at the Glenlivet distillery in Ballindalloch in the Glenlivet parish of the Moray region, Glenlivet is the most popular single malt scotch in the United States today and the second most widely sold single malt in the world. They are competitive in price and quality with Macallan and offer 12, 14, 15, 18, 21, and 25 year bottles in their standard retail offerings.
Balvenie is distilled in Dufftown, Scotland, and owned by William Grant & Sons. In operation since 1892, Balvenie was the first to pioneer cask finishing. Cask finishing is the process by which a whisky aged in one type of cask is switched to the second type of cask for its final few months of aging, imbuing a new range of properties and flavors to the whisky. Balvenie has a core line consisting of their 12 year doublewood bottle, 14 year caribbean cask, 17 year doublewood and 21 year portcask. I’m particularly fond of the 14 year carribean cask, which is finished in rum barrels. The Balvenie line is a great chance to compare the effects of cask aging on a whisky, especially when held up side by side with a Macallan Sherry Cask.
Also owned by William Grant & Sons, Glenfiddich is the world’s most widely sold single malt scotch whisky. Available in 12, 15, 18, and 21 year age statements, Glenfiddich is also usually less expensive than Macallan. It’s a great first bottle to pick up if you’re looking to get into Scotch but don’t want to break the bank. A good representation of a Speyside single malt, without many surprises.
Cocktails With Macallan
While scotch is most often enjoyed on its own, it can be a great addition to a cocktail. Scotch cocktails most often call for blended scotches so I recommend adjusting the ratios of classic scotch-tails when using a single malt to prevent obscuring some of the more subtle flavors.
My favorite classic scotch cocktail, the Roby Roy is basically just a scotch manhattan.
- 2 oz Macallan 12 year double oak
- ¾ oz Sweet Vermouth ( I recommend using a higher-end product here like Carpano Antica or Cocchi Vermouth di Torino)
- 1 dash angostura bitters
Stir, strain up, garnish with a brandied cherry
The Rusty Nail
- 2 oz Macallan 12
- ½ oz Drambuie
- 1 drop orange bitters
Stir, strain over a large cube, garnish with an orange or lemon twist. While this isn’t the classic rusty nail, the reduced amount of Drambuie and the addition of the orange bitters lets the natural flavors of the single malt shine through, while highlighting the citrus notes present.
They are most known for their original Sherry cask single malts, however, they began selling single malts aged partially or entirely in ex-bourbon casks in 2004. Their whiskey is famous for its smooth taste, with rich sherry and oak, little to no smoke, lack of peat, and warm notes of dried fruit and toffee.
Macallan has also made headlines due to the astronomical prices some of its rarer bottles have sold for at auction, routinely setting the record for the most expensive bottle in the world with the most recent record holder sold in 2018 for almost $1.1 million.
Tracing Its Roots
Founded by a school teacher and barley farmer named Alexander Reid in 1824, Macallan was one of the first legally licensed scotch distillers in the Speyside region. The distillery passed from Alexander Reid to his son, and then to James Davidson, James Pierce, and finally James Stuart. In 1879, french grapes were decimated by pests, leading to a shortage of brandy and a huge surge in the popularity of Scotch, and a major boost in sales for the distillery.
Originally known as Elchies distillery, the name was changed to Macallan 1896, by Roger Kemp, who was also part owner of Talisker. Kemp also redirected the focus of the distillery towards sherry cask aging. Until the 1970’s most Macallan was sold domestically, often to blended whisky providers, who would use it in their blends for the international market. In the ’70s, that began to change and single malt scotch became popular all over the world, with Macallan leading the charge.
The Macallan company was purchased by Highland Distillers and Suntory in 1996. Three years later Macallan was purchased by current ownership Edrington Group, however, Suntory still owns a 10% stake in the company. The original Macallan distillery and warehouses are still on the Macallan Distillery property but are no longer used. In 2017 Macallan opened a new distillery and headquarters built on the same location it has always operated from.
Macallan’s Production Techniques
Macallan begins with Scottish barley and locally sourced water. The barley and water are fermented and then distilled into an unaged high proof spirit known as “new make spirit”. Macallan uses 24 “curiously small” stills to produce the new make spirit which is then aged into their final product. The small size of the stills keeps more of the liquid inside in contact with the copper of the still, supposedly creating a unique flavor in the unaged distillate. The Macallan master distillers select the finest cut of the new make spirit to be aged in Spanish sherry and American oak casks. Unlike most distilleries, Macallan puts a massive amount of thought and care into sourcing it’s casks for aging, even employing a hilariously titled “Master of Wood” on its payroll. The spirit is aged in hand-picked casks, the quality of which Macallan believes to be the main thing separating it from its competition. Macallan sources each of these casks from Spain and the USA, and goes as far as inspecting the individual trees to be used in the production of its casks. After the appropriate number of years has passed, these casks are opened and the whisky is bottled and sold.
Macallan is also famous for its color. Their whisky is never adulterated or manipulated, and the color is achieved naturally from the aging process. Macallan prides themselves on this fact, and the quality of their product shows over time. While many whiskies with added coloring agents fade over time, Macallan retains its color for decades.