Macallan is a brand of the Edrington Group, which we started working with in 2008, a year full of twists and turns for us. A few years earlier, I had given up hope of getting Brugal, which was sold to the Edrington Group, which at the time had another distributor in Italy. But then, in 2008, I was confidentially contacted by Don Franklin Brugal who, given our excellent relationship, put me in touch with Edrington's financial director. To be fair, I had to tell him that I was also negotiating with William Grant's, and within a few days we managed to acquire both groups. And so, instead of losing Brugal, we had both that brand and all the others in the Edrington group.
The Macallan Distillery - located near Easter Elchies House, in Craigellachie, in the Speyside region of Scotland - was founded way back in 1824. It was one of the first to open, following the legalisation of distilleries in the early 1800s. At its birth, however, it still bore the name Elchies Distillery. It was only in 1892, following a change of ownership, that it took the name Macallan-Glenlivet, later changed to just Macallan. Over the years, the distillery has become famous for its ageing in former sherry casks, for the first bottlings dedicated to Italian importers and for the glorious exports of the 1970s and 1980s, gaining the fame that today makes Macallan "the king of single malt whiskies": a true status symbol in the world of spirits.
To distill its Scottish barley, Macallan uses two capacious mash tuns, 21 fermenters and 36 stills, the smallest of which, the famous Spirit Stills, produce a dense distillate, very different from the rest of Speyside's area production. For ageing, Macallan has built a complex 'from forest to distillery' system that controls the production of the casks right from the oaks from which they are built. All of Macallan's ageing takes place in American and European oak casks matured with sherry wine and ex-American bourbon barrels. The range consists of a 12, a 15 and an 18 year old Triple Cask. Rare and prestigious bottles are also released annually in very limited numbers and editions, from the Rare Cask line to the Series.
Macallan buys Scottish barley, but also has 40 hectares of property bordering the distillery and planted with Golden Promise, Minstrel and Momentum barley varieties. The latter are distilled one week a year to create special bottlings. With the 'from forest to distillery' system, Macallan monitors the growth of oak trees in Europe and North America. The trees are then processed by Macallan's own master coopers. Most of the woods, those in which sherry is aged, are taken to Spanish bodegas, which use the barrels for at least a year of ageing. Only then are they unpacked, taken to Scotland, cleaned and reassembled to age the whisky. There are as many as 170,000, more than half of Europe's sherry oak: a veritable treasure trove. Macallan is the largest malt whisky distillery in the world, with an annual production capacity of 16 million litres. In 2017, it also opened a new 'science fiction' distillery. The old manor house, first home of the distillery since 1824, is drawn on the label of every Macallan bottle and still forms part of the distillery's heritage.
Con il sistema «from forest to distillery» Macallan monitora la crescita delle querce in Europa e in Nord America. Le piante vengono poi lavorate da mastri bottai della stessa Macallan. La maggior parte dei legni, quelli in cui si affina sherry, vengono portati nelle bodegas spagnole, che usano le botti per almeno un anno di invecchiamento. Solo a questo punto vengono disfatte, portate in Scozia, pulite e rimontate per invecchiare il whisky. Sono ben 170.000, più della metà sherry oak europea: un vero e proprio tesoro. La Macallan è la più grande distilleria di whisky di malto al mondo, con una capacità produttiva di 16 milioni di litri annui. Nel 2017, ha inoltre aperto una nuova “fantascientifica” distilleria. L’antico maniero, prima sede della distilleria dal 1824, è disegnato sull’etichetta di ogni bottiglia Macallan e ancora oggi è parte dell’heritage della distilleria.