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Image Credit: Dezeen



Kirsteen Campbell
"Master Whisky Maker

The Edrington Group


Barrel Head


Barrel Head

head whisky maker(s)

Barrel Head


Barrel Head

Year Founded

Barrel Head


Macallan distillery, a historic gem in Speyside, has a rich heritage dating back to 1824 when it became one of the earliest licensed farm distilleries. Founded by Alexander Reid, Macallan started its legal whisky production journey following the 1823 Excise Act. Notably, in 1868, James Stuart took over the lease and rebuilt the distillery, marking a significant era in its history. However, it was in 1892 that Macallan transitioned into the hands of Roderick Kemp, a prominent figure in Victorian distilling who had previously owned Talisker. The Kemp family, particularly the Shiach family, retained ownership until 1996 when Highland Distillers (now Edrington) acquired the distillery. Under the guidance of luminaries like Allan Shiach, Frank Newlands, Hugh Mitcalfe, and Willie Phillips, Macallan embarked on a campaign to establish itself as a premier single malt, often referring to its whisky as the "Cognac of whisky."

Macallan's distinctive style involves small spirit stills producing a rich and oily new make spirit, which matures in predominantly 500-liter ex-Sherry casks made of European and American oak. The surface-to-volume ratio of these casks prolongs maturation, and Macallan is widely appreciated for hitting its stride in its mid-teens. Macallan's distinct character owes much to its meticulous approach to cask selection. The distillery pioneered the concept of "bespoke" casks, specifying every detail of cask production, from the choice of trees to seasoning with oloroso sherry. Recent years have seen substantial investment in wood storage facilities.

Throughout its evolution, Macallan's production capacity has seen remarkable growth. From its humble beginnings in a wooden shed with two stills, the distillery expanded to five stills in 1954 and then to an impressive 21 stills by 1975. Although Macallan had been a crucial component in various blends for years, it wasn't until the early 1980s that it shifted its focus toward the single malt category. In addition to its renowned core expressions, Macallan has ventured into the luxury whisky market with limited releases, including 50- and 60-year-old expressions presented in Lalique decanters, the Fine & Rare vintage range dating back to 1926, and the Masters of Photography series.

-Written (Mostly) by Robots-

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