The Macallan Distillery Information

Easter Elchies House, home to The Macallan Distillery

Easter Elchies House, home to The Macallan Distillery

In the heart of Speyside, near Abelour, Alexander Reid established The Macallan distillery in 1824. Housed in a Highland manor house named Easter Elchies, The Macallan line currently is probably the most prestigious and exclusive of all Scottish whiskies. In its earlier days, the produce of the distillery was nothing overly remarkable, and when Alfred Barnard visited the distillery, a mere 7 lines were dedicated to The Macallan in his famous book.  Things changed for the better when a gentleman called Roderick Kemp purchased the distillery in 1892.

Following his death in 1909, the distillery’s ownership is passed to his descendants, who in turn transfer it to private limited company, R Kemp, Macallan-Glenlivet Ltd. in 1946. It remained in the hands of the Kemp family until 1996, when Highland Distillers Ltd (HDL) purchase a majority share in the distillery. In 1999, HDL where taken over by the Edrington Group (Who also own Highland Park). The whisky has always been popular, and was widely used by Blenders to give their product a “finishing touch”. Following a spike in the Macallan’s popularity, the amount of stills was increased from 6 to 12 in 1965, increased again in 1974 to a total of 18 stills, and once more in 1975 to bring the total to 21 stills, split over two different production houses. In the late 1970s, a decision was made to start focusing on producing single malt, and from the popularity of the brand, that turned out to be a wise choice indeed.

The stills at The Macallan.

The stills at The Macallan.

The way The Macallan is produced is rather unique. It’s built on an uncompromising focus on quality, using what The Macallan calls “the 6 pillars” that shape its character. The first pillar is the estate on which the distillery lies, and which has the river Spey running at its south-eastern and eastern borders. Apart from the above mentioned Easter Elchies house, the estate covers some 390 acres of land, 90 of which is used to grow the Minstrel barley, which is exclusive to The Macallan. The second pillar is the stills used. The stills are “curiously small”, standing no more than 4 meters (13 feet) high, and with necks that start to curve downwards very steeply almost as soon as they leave the body. The small size of the ensure maximum contact between the copper and the spirit giving it the oilyness typical of The Macallan. The third pillar is the small amount of actual spirit used from the distillation. The great majority of the run is rejected, with only 16% (“The finest cut”) captured to be laid to rest in casks.

The 4th pillar is the oak used for these casks. Macallan buys its own oak, and controls the production of the casks to be used for maturation from beginning to end, ensuring that only the finest casks are used. The casks will be either Spanish oak used for Sherry, or American oak that previously contained either Sherry or Bourbon. Pillar number 5 is natural color; all color is derived from the casks, rather than being artificially enhanced with caramel. This requires great skill by the whisky maker to ensure consistency of the color over the years. The sixth and final pillar is The Macallan brand itself. Great pride and skill are involved to ensure a consistent level of quality over time, earning Macallan the nickname of “The Rolls Royce of whiskies”.

Trivia: The world record for the most expensive whisky to ever be auctioned was a 64 Year Old Macallan in Lalique Cire Perdue crystal decanter. It was sold in 2010 for a whopping $460,000. In 2014, this record was surpassed by a 2014 bid of $628,000 for a 6-litre The Macallan “M” in a Lalique crystal decanter.

Macallan whiskies

Currently, several core ranges make up the range of whiskies offered.

Sherry Oak series

Exclusively matured in Spanish Sherry Oak casks.

  • 12 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • 25 Years Old
  • 30 Years Old

Fine Oak Series

The Fine Oak series is matured in both Sherry and Bourbon casks from Europe and America.

  • 10 Years Old
  • 12 Years Old
  • 15 Years Old
  • 17 Years Old
  • 18 Years Old
  • 21 Years Old
  • 25 Years Old
  • 30 Years Old

1824 Series

The 1824 Series is also exclusively matured in Sherry casks.

  • Gold
  • Amber
  • Sienna
  • Ruby
  • M

1824 Collection

The 1824 Collection is only available in travel retail.

  • Select oak
  • Whisky Maker’s Edition
  • Estate Reserve
  • Oscuro
  • Limited Release MMXII

Distillery info:

NameThe Macallan
Water sourcelocal borehole
Owned byEdringto
Address The Macallan Distilleries Ltd Easter Elchies Craigellachie AB38 9RX Scotland +44 (0) 1340 872 280
Visitor centreYes

Distillery Setup:

Mash tun7.6 + 6.3 tonnes2
Washbackwashback_c litres22
Wash stillwashstill_c litres7
Spirit Stillspiritstill_c litres14
Expected yearly output in LPA (Litres of pure alcohol)9,100,000
Images courtesy of The Macallan