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The Macallan

A special place in most important respects.

A special place in most important respects.

Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Morayshire, AB38 9RX, 01340 872280. Edrington Group. www.themacallan.com

APPEARANCE AND LOCATION:      ****      This is just a stunning place to put a distillery: at the top of a cliff on one of the inner banks of a Spey meander, looking out towards Benrinnes and other less venerable and whisky-significant mountains.


‘Experience Tour’: £8. See ‘My Tour’ below.

‘Precious Tour’: £20. The essential tour of the distillery is exactly the same as for the £8 Experience tour. However, at the end you are taken in to the nosing room where you are given a presentation on nosing and tasting, followed by a chance to do the real thing with some new make, two Sherry Oak expressions and two Fine Oak expressions. These will vary according to the tastes of the participants but range from 12 to 30 years of age.

NB: Tours are restricted to 10 (for both the Experience and Precious tours) and booking is “advisable, if not essential.”

DISTILLERY-EXCLUSIVE BOTTLINGS:      Not only a distillery-exclusive, but you must have participated on a tour in order to purchase it. A single cask Sherry butt from 1997 (52.3% ABV), £120.

My Tour – 22/04/2010



Notes:      In a similar way to The Glenlivet, this tour is like an iceberg: most of the rest of the production and its equipment is out of sight. The stills are gorgeous, two spirit to one wash. There are about 20 more elsewhere on the site. This I whispered to one man who casually pondered how they could produce 8 million litres a year from six stills. They have retained – and even made new – wooden washbacks because The Macallan understands the aesthetics of it all. There are very modern, interactive displays, such as a turn-your-own barley mill, scale models and nifty photography at the start and pipework out of which you pull bungs and can nose new make spirit. All good touches, and show a real concern for the education and enjoyment of the visitor. The treatment of the maturation process I don’t think was bettered in any of my other tours.

GENEROSITY:      (1 dram)


SCORE:      5/10 *s

COMMENT:      A fine tour, with a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide in Jennie. The distillery has only just finished an expansion project and we toured what was called the “dormant” side at the time. The modern entrance to the production site is very clean and effective with good photographs on a loop over several screens to illustrate the process. As romantically as possible. This is a serious lifestyle brand, after all. There are models to provide a more hands-on educational opportunity: especially the grind-your-own hand-turned barley mill. The expansion has seen further washbacks installed made of stainless steel. The ones we saw were brand new wooden ones. Again, the aesthetic is important and they did look very smart. The stillhouse is glorious with the dumpy, squat spirit stills. The Macallan works on a two wash stills to one spirit still ratio and has the finest spirit cut in the industry at just 16% of the second distillation cycle. Glen Garioch’s is the same percentage but I only found that out at Glen Garioch! The warehouse was where things picked up in a big way: a big woody way. The dunnage warehouse was, as always, a delicious atmosphere to inhale. There were five empty casks for us to sniff, too, however: an American barrel, a hogshead, an American oak butt seasoned with Sherry, a Spanish oak butt seasoned with Sherry and a Spanish oak butt, seasoned with Sherry and then filled with Macallan for 12 years. It was fascinating to note the differences, because they were quite marked. The American oak with the Sherry seasoning was the most strikingly magnificent: rich, fruity, but sweet and toffeed. Lurvely. Just the one dram to savour at the end, but it was the standard 10-year-old, which I feel is one of the best young malts on the market. The new warehouses, by the by, won’t win any architectural awards.

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April 30, 2010 um 7:42 pm
The Tours
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