The Macallan Releases Its Oldest Single Malt Whisky

The Macallan distillery has released its oldest single malt, dating back eight decades to World War II. Distillation of this distinguished scotch began in 1940, the same year that Germany invaded Denmark and Norway. That year, Belgium and the Netherlands suffered intensive bombing raids under the blitzkrieg offensive. In the UK, the population was subject to food rationing, night-time blackout and military call-up.

Eighty-two years ago, as spring days lengthened over the Scottish highlands, Macallan artisans and stillmen set to work. They used what barley was still available to distil a specially selected cask of new make spirit. Today, this luxury single malt is called The Reach. Some 288 filled decanters went on sale on 9th February 2022, much to the delight of investors and private collectors across the globe.

Ornate decanters

Master whiskey maker Christine Campbell was responsible for making the delicate decision that this rare scotch had reached peak maturity. She spoke about the honour of introducing such an extraordinary spirit, created at a turbulent time in the world. As she put it, The Reach showcases Macallan’s history, ingenuity and unique strength.

Although each boxed decanter has a price tag of £92,000, its value is likely to appreciate thanks to the elaborate presentation. Commentators in the whisky trade believe that the elm of the wooden cabinet comes from a fallen tree within the distillery grounds.

Inside, an opulent decanter features three bronze hands. One represents Ms Campbell, who chose the cask for release. Another is of Allan Shiach, once chairman of the company – and whose grandfather was the top boss in 1940. The third is an artistic representation of one of the stillmen, which symbolises all the wartime workers.

The Reach’s peaty aroma complements profound notes of dark chocolate and sweet cinnamon on the tongue, leading to distinctive flavours of treacle toffee, charred pineapple and crystallised ginger. Expert tasters describe the finish as astonishingly rich and smokey sweet.

Perhaps the artisans who created this remarkable whisky wondered wistfully about the future as they laid down the cask. Then, not unexpectedly and only two years later, in August 1942, the Banffshire distillery closed temporarily due to the war effort. It reopened in March 1945.

Special Macallan Whiskies

This eminent producer has impressive form in releasing limited edition premium whiskies. The Reach is, without a doubt, the oldest. For the company and its devotees alike, this latest yet beautifully aged spirit embodies the enduring spirit of wartime life.

In August 2021, the Macallan released Volume 1, a 71-year-old single malt distilled in 1950. Similarly, the previous year (2020) saw the launch of the Red Collection: three fine scotches aged for 71, 74 and 78 years. The latter sells at around £120,000 per bottle.

Two years before that (in 2018), decanters of 72-year-old Genesis whisky were the last special release from Macallan’s previous distillery in Lalique. The launch of Genesis aptly coincided with the move to new premises at Craigellachie, Moray.

Finally, the directors have commissioned several short YouTube films, including a series to tell the story of the Macallan legacy.

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