This Rolls-Royce of whisky is one of few which put more of its whisky into single malt than blended whisky due to its global popularity. Macallan has been with us since 1824 when Alexander Reid established Macallan looking over the River Spey in Craiglellachie. Macallan stayed in the Reid family until 1858 when Alexander Reid’s son passed away and the management was taken by a James Davidson and James Shearer Priest who subsequently sold Macallan in 1868 to James Stuart. James was a popular name at the time. It was James Davidson who gets much of the credit for the development of Macallan as a quality single malt scotch whisky, Davidson was a corn merchant by trade and was the one who insisted on buying only high grade barley for use when distilling whisky. During James Stuart’s tenure the distillery ran into financial problems during a recession however the brandy crises (phylloxera pest which killed off vines) in France led to a renaissance for the scotch whisky industry.
Roderick Kemp then purchased Macallan in 1892 and immediately tagged on Glenlivet to the name which was a fashion at the time to hang on the coat tails of the very popular Glenlivet. After Kemp’s death in 1909 Macallan Distillery was owned by the Roderick Kemp Trust
In 1892, the distillery was taken over by Roderick Kemp who during his time had really developed Macallan into a more modern (for the period) facility by adding new storage warehouses, improving the stills and thus production. The key thing he did though was start to mature the whisky in unbroken Spanish oak sherry casks. Following Kemp’s death in 1909 the management of the distillery came under The Roderick Kemp Trust which although floated in 1966 (by this time operating 12 stills) remained in the control of the Kemp family until it was purchased by Highland Distillers Ltd in 1996. After the company was floated it would only be a matter of time before someone attempted to take it over with Japans Suntory, Highland Distillers and Remy Cointreau taking substantial shareholdings. Highland distillers were subsequently purchased by the Erdington Group by that time a whopping 21 stills were in operation.
Despite this rich history the first Macallan single malt scotch whisky was not released until the 1970’s, the single malt from Macallan is only ever matured in ex sherry casks from Jerez Spain. Although 75% of whisky production goes into their single malt range, Macallan is also popular with blenders who will add just a little to sweeten their blends. Macallan is used in global blended whiskies such as Famous Grouse, J & B, Long John, Ballantines, Chivas Regal and Cutty Sark. This is indeed the Rolls-Royce of the single malt whisky world.
Taste: This classic single malt scotch whisky is sweet from start to finish with sherry, and toffee on the nose, creamy and full bodied on the palate with a long sweet finish. An elegant and refined whisky deserving of its place at the top table.