It took The Macallan less than a year to reclaim the title of holding the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky. After Gordon & MacPhail beat them to the punch with the first 80 Year Old last year, The Macallan reacted quickly to go one better. Known as The Reach, this new whisky sat idle in The Macallan warehouse for 81 years before finally reaching its peak.
The whisky was first laid to rest in 1940, shortly before The Macallan was forced to close its doors due to the Second World War. After 81 years of maturation in a single sherry seasoned cask, there was just enough liquid left to fill 288 decanters, each of which will sell for $125,000.
Crafting whisky over 81 years requires an uncompromising commitment to excellence, not just from those who originally laid it down but their successors, too. To pay tribute to those who had a hand in The Reach’s creation, The Macallan went to extraordinary lengths with its decanter and presentation box.
The whisky is encased in a mouth-blown decanter, which is cradled by a bronze sculpture of three hands. Each hand represents characters in The Reach’s story. One pays tribute to those who worked at The Macallan in 1940, who crafted the spirit in challenging times. Another is for the former chairman Allan Shiach (and writer of the Queen’s Gambit, would you believe) who lifted the company to today’s lofty heights. The final hand is for current master whisky maker, Kirsteen Campbell, who made the ultimate decision to bottle it in 2021.
Campbell said: “It is an honor to introduce The Reach. Created during a turbulent time in the world, this extraordinary expression showcases The Macallan’s history, ingenuity and unmistakable strength of character.
“The creation of many hands, The Reach has been a truly collaborative effort. It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit which never wavered.
“Its deep auburn hue is the first hint of this remarkable whisky’s astonishing depth. Offering notes of dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon and aromatic peat, leading on to treacle toffee, crystalized ginger and charred pineapple, before giving way to an intensely rich, sweet and smoky finish.”
The dramatic presentation was in itself a collaborative effort between Scottish artisans. Sculptor Saskia Robinson created the three hands, including vein, nail and skin details, based on an artist’s impression of a stillman’s hand. The glass decanter from Glasstrom features subtle indentations that match the fingerprints of the bronze hands which support it.
Finally, the wooden cabinet was crafted from a fallen elm tree, which is thought to have stood on The Macallan Estate in 1940.
The Macallan Reach Tasting Notes*
Color: Deep auburn
Nose: Dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon, aromatic peat, plums, leather, pink grapefruit, redcurrant jelly and a rich resinous note.
Palate: Treacle toffee, bramble jam, licorice, crystalized ginger, nutmeg, charred pineapple, pecans, woodsmoke.
Finish: Intensely rich, sweet and smoky.
*from the distillery
From £92,000 ($125,000). The Macallan Reach will be on display at The Macallan Estate Boutique from February 9, 2022 and later in The Macallan domestic and travel retail boutiques.