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The Macallan - The Malt: Nineteenth Century Macallan; “The Definitive Guide To Buying Vintage Macallan”

SHERRY OAK CASKS

For reasons not even science can wholly explain, whisky has always matured best in oak casks that have contained sherry. Due to the increasing expense and scarcity of these containers, it is many years since other distillers have insisted exclusively on their use. The Macallan still does.

A selection of bottles from The Macallan archive by David Cos

The Macallan enjoys an unrivalled reputation as the collectors malt of choice. This is illustrated in the graph below by looking at the total number of bottles of Macallan available at McTears whisky auctions during 2000 and 2001, expressed as a percentage of their total malt whisky sales.

Even more amazing is the total value of those bottles of whisky It is clear that The Macallan is the most sought after, collectable, whisky at auction and we are delighted to be able to extend our offering in this Guide.

The graph underlines the continuing collectabllity and value of Macallan and illustrates that for 15% of the total bottles at auction The Macallan accounts for over 21% of the value. This provides proof, if yet more was needed, of the impeccable credentials of The Macallan and its enduring appeal to collectors around the globe.

"No other single malt whisky has such a dominant position in the auction market place today."
McTEARS AUCTION HOUSE

We have selected five bottles from our private reserves, original bottlings of whisky distilled in 1856, 1870, 1884, 1896 and 1897, to showcase in this Guide. These five bottles are truly collectable and are offered for sale, with their own reserve price. The bottles will be auctioned sequentially throughout the corning months from, January 2003, through our website. Visit www.themacallan.com for auction details. Each bottle has been photographed in the following pages with descriptions of historical events, both at The Macallan, and around the world, in the featured year.

 

The Macallan 1856

 

In 1856 Mr William Walker, an adventurer, invaded Nicaragua. Walker set himself up as a dictator and hoped to make it the foundation of a Central American empire based on slave labour. Whilst Walker's ideas may have seemed like an expression of Southern expansionist fantasies, his financial backing actually came from transportation companies interested in the isthmus geography of that region.

A more benevolent leader, James Davidson, was proprietor of The Macallan, first jointly with James Priest, but later as sole owner until his death in 1868.

He further enhanced the name and reputation of what was then called 'The Craigellachie Whisky'. Around this time, Davidson introduced what has become one of the essential pillars of The Macallan —the purchase of only the finest barley for malting.

DESCRIPTION

Short, squat cylindrical bottle, with long, bulbous neck, from one of the four major Scottish glassworks of the time — Alloa, Dumbarton, Leith, Glasgow.

GLASS COLOUR

Deep Green

YEAR DISTILLED

1856

CAP

Lead

HEIGHT

260mm from base

WIDTH

85mm

FULL HEIGHTT

140mm

PRICE

£10, 000 (reserve)

 

The Macallan 1870

In 1870 the capital of Italy was moved from Florence to Rome. Postcards first came into use in the US, and the Museum of Modern Art was founded in New York City. Madame Pommery introduced the first brut, not sweet, champagne to the world. The Telegraph linked Europe, Hong Kong, China and Japan for the first time. Scientific American publisher Alfred Ely Beach built a pneumatic subway under Broadway in New York.

The single subway car, which featured upholstered chairs and chandeliers was driven along the 300 foot tunnel by a 100 horsepower engine.

James Stuart, owner of The Macallan from 1868 until 1892, faced hard times as a recession hit Britain. His misfortune was perhaps compounded by the attention he paid to another venture—the building of a new distillery Glen Rothes, a few miles from The Macallan.

 

DESCRIPTION

Cylindrical bottle, with short, bulbous neck, from one of the four major Scottish glassworks of the time — Alloa, Dumbarton, Leith, Glasgow.

GLASS COLOUR

Brown

YEAR DISTILLED

1870

CAP

Lead

HEIGHT

250mm from base

WIDTH

80mm

FULL HEIGHTT

175mm

PRICE

£8, 500 (reserve)

 

The Macallan 1884

In 1884, the first long distance telephone call was made from Boston to New York. `Flaked Cereal' was patented by Dr John Harvey Kellogg; and the London prison for debtors closed its doors for the very last time.

In a famous gesture of friendship, the Statue of Liberty was presented to the US at a ceremony in Paris. Greenwich Mean Time was globally adopted. The International Date Line was drawn up and twenty five integer time zones were created.

Meanwhile at the Macallan, things were quickly changing. Distiller James Stuart was beginning to see an upsurge in whisky's popularity: between 1879 and 1890, French vines were attacked by the phylloxera louse and brandy was unobtainable for a whole decade—to the great benefit of Scotch whisky, which never looked back!

 

DESCRIPTION

Short, squat cylindrical bottle, with long, bulbous neck, from one of the four major Scottish glassworks of the time — Alloa, Dumbarton, Leith, Glasgow.

GLASS COLOUR

Deep Green

YEAR DISTILLED

1884

CAP

Lead

HEIGHT

254mm from base

WIDTH

90mm

FULL HEIGHTT

145mm

PRICE

£7, 500 (reserve)

  

The Macallan 1896

In 1896, Greek nationalists, with help from the enthusiastic French sportsman Pierre du Fredy, revived the Olympic Games, with the first modern Olympics being held in Athens. The Greek games were historically held every four years, beginning in 776 R.C. and reaching their height in the 5th-4th Century B.C.

The very first motion picture projector was manufactured and the first public showing took place in New York City.

Roderick Kemp, owner and manager of the Macallan Distillery from 1892, was busy improving its surrounding buildings. Probably more than any other proprietor, the energetic and uncompromising Kemp was responsible for many of the founding principles of outstanding quality criteria which have become the hallmark of The Macallan today.

We owe Mr Kemp a debt of thanks for his early foresight and vision.

 

DESCRIPTION

Tall, flattened bottle of oval section, from one
of the four major Scottish glassworks of the time — Alloa, Dumbarton, Leith, Glasgow.

GLASS COLOUR

Deep Green

YEAR DISTILLED

1896

CAP

Lead

HEIGHT

280mm from base

WIDTH

110mm

FULL HEIGHTT

210mm

PRICE

£6, 750 (reserve)

 

 

The Macallan 1897

Modernisation was the buzzword in 1897. The first electric taxis were introduced in London. The Steamer Portland arrived in Seattle carrying more than a ton of gold from Alaska, thus beginning the Klondike gold rush. Edwin S. Votey patented his self-playing piano, which he called the Pianola. In Britain, postmen delivered mail for the first time. Marconi obtained a radio patent and established the Wireless Telegraph & Signal Company

The Tate Gallery was opened. And Mark Twain was quoted by the New York Journal in London as saying that "the report of my death has been greatly exaggerated".

This was a buoyant year for the scotch whisky industry; new distilleries were being commissioned, while extensive alterations and additions were being carried out at The Macallan, overseen by Roderick Kemp.

DESCRIPTION

Tall cylindrical bottle, Lead with short, bulbous
neck, from one of the four major Scottish glassworks of the time Alloa, Dumbarton, Leith, Glasgow.

GLASS COLOUR

Deep Green

YEAR DISTILLED

1897

CAP

Lead

HEIGHT

240mm from base

WIDTH

90mm

FULL HEIGHTT

175mm

PRICE

£6, 500 (reserve)

 

“It is incredibly smooth and invites comparison with old Armagnac."
The Macallan 18 Years Old

CHARLES Mac LEAN I Whisky Writer

 

"...it's perhaps the most stately and elegant of any single malt I've ever judged...the stuff of genius."

The Macallan 25 Years Old

PAUL PACULT | Kindred Spirits

 

"Sensational nose!"

The Macallan 30 Years Old

JIM MURRAY | Whisky Magazine

 

 


Written by David Cos

 

The text is an excerpt from "The Definitive Guide to Buying Vintage Macallan" (pp. 89 - 100), First Edition, published 2003 by Macallan Distillery Ltd.