Five things you didn’t know about The Macallan scotch whisky

There are few distilleries that can say they were one of the founding producers of whisky in Scotland, but with a rich legacy within the Speyside region, The Macallan distillery has paved the way for scotch since the 18th century.

Renowned for its second-to-none attention to detail, The Macallan’s passion for quality is evident throughout its carefully curated collection of scotch whisky.

Whilst these signature bottles have become a firm favourite with whisky enthusiasts, here are a few facts you might not already know:

1. The Macallan was founded in 1824

Since then, the distillery has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading single malt whisky producers. The creation of The Macallan draws on distinctive influences of Spain, North America, and Scotland – and the natural raw materials, combined with traditional methods and craftsmanship.

Through skill, craftsmanship, and creativity – passed down through many generations – the experienced team creates the mastery of wood and spirit that defines The Macallan whisky.

2. The distillery is located above the river Spey

Known for high-quality whisky, the Speyside region is a geographical hotspot for scotch production. An obsession with quality has been the hallmark of The Macallan since its founding on a plateau above the river Spey in northeast Scotland.

Dating back to 1543, The Macallan Estate spans 485 acres of beautiful Scottish countryside overlooking the River Spey. The surrounding land comprises a natural ecosystem, populated with over 60,000 trees and more than 70 species of wildlife, birds and fish. The estate harvests homegrown barley and has a catch and release fishing beat on the river.

3. It was one of the first distilleries in Scotland to be legally licensed

Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for hundreds of years and as the tipple grew in popularity, attempts to control the production and tax the profits started to come into effect – the first records of distilling date back to the 1600s, and probably earlier.

However, after centuries of uncontrolled production, the 1823 Excise Act sanctioned legal distilling at a duty of 12p (2/3d) per gallon. Stills had to be more than 40 gallons and there was an annual licence fee of £10.

From 1824, distilleries across Scotland joined the Act and began legally producing their signature scotch – The Macallan was one of the first whisky powerhouses to do so.

4. The Macallan was founded by Alexander Reid – a barley farmer and a schoolteacher

The Macallan distillery has a long-standing legacy within the region, with Alexander Reid using his farm’s surplus barley during the quieter winter months to produce the first bottles of what is now an iconic brand.

The estate looked very different back then. What is now many acres of kept landscape and an impressive whisky facility, was once a wooden shed with two stills. Here’s a brief look at The Macallan’s timeline:

  • Founded by Alexander Reid in 1824 – at the point of obtaining a licence
  • After Reid passed away in 1847, James Shearer Priest and James Davidson took over
  • James Stuart acquired the lease in 1868 and rebuilt the distillery
  • Stuart sold the distillery in 1892 – to Roderick Kemp, former owner of Talisker
  • From 1909 to 1975, The Kemp Trust owned the distillery – taking it from six stills to 21
  • Japanese group Suntory bought a 25% stake in 1986 before Highland Distillers purchased the remainder of the company in 1996
  • Going from strength to strength, a new distillery was built and opened in 2018 – costing £140million

5. The Macallan Whisky Mastery Team includes a Master of Wood

The distinctive characteristics of The Macallan are thanks to the exceptional oak casks. Within the experienced team is a Master of Wood, who oversees how the oak is sourced, crafted, toasted, and seasoned – ensuring the highest quality wood is selected and carefully turned into The Macallan casks.

Through long-standing partnerships with ‘tree to finished seasoned cask’ companies in Spain, the Master of Wood identifies the oak trees in the forests of northern Spain, hand picking only the best oak that meets the demanding specifications of The Macallan Whisky Mastery Team.

It takes over five years of craftsmanship to create The Macallan oak casks before they are filled with a ‘new make’ spirit. Worth the wait, when you consider they account for up to 80% of The Macallan’s aromas and flavours.

With such a rich history and an unwavering dedication to quality, The Macallan is a brand worth trying. The Whisky Kingdom stocks a wide range of The Macallan bottles, all offering the distillery’s unique characteristics. Explore the range.

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