The Macallan— History in a sip

With a heritage that dates back nearly 200 years, the house of The Macallan is a bastion of character whilst always keeping an eye in the future.

The story we’re about to tell, takes us all the way to the charming, lush-green Scottish Highlands. The Macallan Distillery, one of the first to be officially licensed in Scotland, stands on Easter Elchies Estate in the county of Moray, North-East Scotland. Stunning fields of all shades of green go as far as the eye can see, nestled above the river Spey, encompassing a total of 485 acres of land

To tell the history of The Macallan one needs to first explain the importance of the land the Estate stands on. The proud country of Scotland carries tradition beautifully and both producing and drinking Whisky are arguably one of the country’s best known customs.

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Tales as old as time

If we go as far as the 1700s we will learn about how drovers in the highlands, on their way to the markets in the south, would often stop at the many farmers’ houses along their way. Here, they would probably exchange pleasant words, explain the hardships of selling their cattle in the market, perhaps a tip or two about farming and taking care of livestock.

In keeping with Highland tradition, it is quite possible that the farmer would then offer their tiered guests a parting glass of locally distilled ‘aqua vitae’ or ‘usquebaugh’ in Scottish Gaelic to keep them warm on the road.

We will then fast-forward 100 or and something years to 1824. The date that one would be carved on every single bottle of The Macallan whisky, would mark the year Alexander Reid would officially found his distillery.


The original name of the area was “Maghellan”, taken from the Gaelic word “magh”, meaning fertile ground and “Ellan”, from the Monk St.Fillan – who held a close association with the church that stood in the grounds of The Macallan Estate until 1400. The farmers had a long and rich traction of making whisky on their Speyside farms in the area for centuries.

What makes The Macallan unique is the house’s dedication to uncompromising quality whilst an ability to keep innovating. Quality and character are two words that well describe a brand that has managed to survive 200 years and remain a favorite of connoisseurs. The secret it seems rest on the house’s 6 pillars.

Pillars of Quality:

Spiritual Home

A house is sometimes more than bricks and windows, it can represent soul and spirit. Such is the case with the brand’s  Spiritual Home, Easter Elchies House. A fine example of a Highland manor house it was built in 1700 from locally quarried sandstone for Captain John Grant.

“Curiously Small Stills”

Stills, or pot stills are a type of distillation apparatus, usually made of copper as is the case of hose in The Macallan distillery. Although the smallest in the Speyside, don’t let size full you. It is their different size and shape that lends the spirit maximum contact with the copper. In turn, this helps concentrate the ‘new make’ spirit and provide the rich, fruity, full-bodied flavours characteristic we know and appreciate. There are 24 of these spirit stills, crafted from copper, each holding an initial ‘charge’ of 3,900 litres.

Finest Cut

To ensure only the very best comes out of their distillery, only the finest quality spirit from our stills is selected. This allows the best single malt whisky is crafted. The small portion, or ‘cut’ is incredibly selective and one of the finest in the industry. It is primarily responsible for the full-bodied richness of The Macallan new make spirit. This clear colourless spirit is selected at just under 70% alcohol by volume. The unique and flavourful amber liquid you see in your fine crystal glass, starts with this ‘new make’ spirit.

Exceptional Oak

To speak about The Macallan is to speak about some of the most unique casks in the industry. The last stage of whisky-making is also one of the Estate’s signatures. Sourced mostly in distant and warmer Spain, these oak casks are crafted to the brand’s specifications and account for up to 80% of the final aromas and flavours of The Macallan. Quality comes at a price, and The Macallan confirms they spend more per cask than any other distillery in sourcing, crafting, seasoning and caring for their casks!

Natural Colour

What we can all agree with is that The Macallan is unmistakable for its unique colours! A unique skill and mastery is required to produce such beautiful all-natural shades. What influences the different lines is the interaction of the ‘new make’ spirit with the oak of the maturation casks delivers the rich and natural diversity of colour throughout the range, from light oak through to darkest mahogany.

Peerless Spirit

Last but not least, what really takes to make incomparable quality is true passion and dedication. Mastery of anything can’t be achieved without real spirit and that is why the brand chose it as the last of the six pillars: the human element that makes the combination of everything else possible!

The Real Deal

Tasting any of the many lines and ages of The Macallan is all the prove you will need to understand that great taste and unpairing quality takes history.

From the  beautiful and rich grounds on which it stands today, to the history of a country and the ingenuity of its founder, every single sip of The Macallan was nearly two centuries in the making.

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