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The Macallan - The Malt: The Passion of Giuseppe Begnoni; “The Definitive Guide To Buying Vintage Macallan”

 

Thriving on cult status, single malt whisky has a more devoted following than any other spirit. And as distilleries continue to specialise and innovate, collectors have ever more bottlings to choose from. How much they are prepared to pay was confirmed by the 2002 world record auction price for a bottle of malt—£20,150*. And the object of such intense desire? A Macallan 60 Years Old. (*including VAT and buyer's premium)

The Macallan has a supreme allure among collectors. In fact, the world's largest malt whisky collection features more bottlings of The Macallan than any other distillery. Compiled by the Italian Giuseppe Begnoni, and currently in excess of 6,000 bottles, this extraordinary collection began with just three Scotch whisky miniatures.

"It's still as exciting now as it ever was. I'm most interested in old and longer-aged whisky, though I also buy new releases from a few distilleries, including The Macallan."
GIUSEPPE BEGNONI

That was in 1969, when Giuseppe was aged 18. After buying whisky miniatures for three years, his first trip to Scotland saw the collection evolving on a different scale, as he traded up from miniature to full-sized malts and blends. Giuseppe's first bottle of The Macallan, a 50 Years Old purchased in 1983, remains a vivid 
memory " It cost £125, and is now worth over £5,000."

Favourite Macallans include the 1938, 1947, 1958, 1966, 1969, and the Special Reserve bottled in 1985 (presented to selected visitors at the distillery to commemorate the restoration of Easter Elchies House). The most valuable bottle of whisky in his collection is also a Macallan, a 60 Years Old (distilled 1926, bottled 1986). "But I love all my bottles equally, even those that cost £50," says the egalitarian Giuseppe, who has retained his passion for collecting.

How this amazing collection continues to grow remains to be seen, but it's certain the total won't decrease. " I’ll never sell anything from my personal collection," says Giuseppe adamantly. Oh well. We can only hope that he changes his mind!

Some of Giuseppe's collection can be seen on display in his living room in Bologna.

 

Image kindly supplied by Robert Levin. This photo first appeared in ‘Single Malt Whisky: An Italian Passion’ by Umberto Angeloni

 

1964 I In South Africa, African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela,
who was to became the first black President of South Africa, was
sentenced to life imprisonment. Donald Campbell broke both the world
land (403.1mph) and water (276.3mph) speed records. This year saw the opening of the world's then largest bridge, the Verrazano, spanning the mouth of New York Harbour.

 

CASK TYPE

Hogshead

CASK No

3312

NOSE

Huge fresh smouldering peals with apples, citrus and floral perfume notes.

PALATE

Rich peaty phenols and wood smoke with hints of fruits.

FINISH

Burning peat and wood — a surprising character from a Speysider.

STRENGTH

58.6% Vol.

COLOR

Beech

TINT

13

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

37 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£995

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£1,070

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£108

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

135 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

 

1965 I The Age of the Hippie officially arrived in 1965 with "Lava Lamp Day".
Sir Winston Churchill died. In innovation, the world's first roofed stadium, the Houston Astrodome, was built, and Japan's Bullet Train began operation. Invention of astroturf, soft contact lenses and compact discs. In fashion, the miniskirt, designed by Mary Quant, appeared in London and soon became all the rage.

CASK TYPE

Butt

CASK No

4402

NOSE

Good fruits, lemons and orange citrus with medium dried fruits. An even balance of wood maturity and spice with light vanilla toffee.

PALATE

Citrus burst and fruity with light spices and a pleasing nutty dryness.

FINISH

Drying woody notes balance forward fruits with a late finish of toasted nuts.

STRENGTH

56.2% Vol.

COLOR

Rich Rosewood

TINT

47

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

36 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£825

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£890

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£94

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

447 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

1966 I After exploratory research, North Sea gas was first pumped ashore by BP in 1966. Exploring another territory altogether, 'Star Trek' made its premiere on NBC TV in the US, quickly becoming a cult classic. The song 'Yellow Submarine', by The Beatles, became their eleventh, and last, consecutive one hit. England won football's World Cup.

 

CASK TYPE

Butt

CASK No

7878

NOSE

Robust cloves and ginger resins with wood and prunes. Hints of lighter estery notes (apples/citrus/floral) are complexed with a treacle toffee nose. Similar to
sherry fruit cake.

PALATE

Massively spicy and prune like, balanced with light estery fruits and toffee

FINISH

Drying clove spices with wood resins and dried fruits.

STRENGTH

55.5% Vol.

COLOR

Rich Elm Burr

TINT

66

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

35 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£800

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£860

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£92

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

135 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

1967 I The first Super Bowl was played in the US as the Green Bay Packers 
of the National Football League defeated the Kansas City Chiefs of the 
American Football League, 35 - 10, in Los Angeles. The first hand-held calculator was invented by Texas Instruments, at a cost of $2,500 a piece. Rolling Stone Magazine published its debut issue with a press run of 40,000 copies.

 

CASK TYPE

Butt

CASK No

1195

NOSE

Massive fruits—an almost parina violet/floral character to the fore.

PALATE

Orange zest now evident with some spice and wood.

FINISH

Long, fruity and floral finish with a late burst of wood.

STRENGTH

56.3% Vol.

COLOR

Rich Mahogany

TINT

59

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

35 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£675

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£730

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£83

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

135 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

 

1968 I The Big Mac was created by McDonalds" franchisee Jim Delligatti in Pittsburgh. It sold for 49 cents. Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. The computer mouse and random access memory (RAM) were invented. The Olympic Games were held in Mexico and Bob Beamon smashed the world long- jump record with a jump of 8.9 metres.

CASK TYPE

Hogshead

CASK No

2875

NOSE

A hint of vanilla toffee with apple fruits, floral and light citrus. Hints of linseed oil.

PALATE

Vanilla toffee and fruits

FINISH

Light fruits and lingering vanilla sweetness.

STRENGTH

51.0% Vol.

COLOR

Rich Beech

TINT

16

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

34 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£850

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£915

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£95

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

109 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

 

1968 I Japan became the world's second strongest economic power after the
United States when its Gross National Product (GNP) exceeded $140 billion. Meanwhile, the first cash dispensing machine was installed by First Philadelphia Bank, with Chemical Bank in New York following one year later. A t age 29, Ralph Lauren founded his eponymous fashion empire. 

CASK TYPE

Hogshead

CASK No

5913

NOSE

Spiced apple (cinnamon) with vanilla toffee and apple) floral high notes

PALATE

Cooked spiced apples with citrus and hints of toffee sweetness.

FINISH

Cinnamon apples.


STRENGTH

46.6% Vol.

COLOR

Beech

TINT

12

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

33 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£825

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£890

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£94

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

135 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

1969 I On July 20th, Neil Armstrong and Edwin `Buzz' Aldrin of Apollo 11 
became the first humans to walk on the moon. Armstrong uttered the famous
words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." In other advances,
the artificial heart was invented and Arpanet, the forerunner of the modern-day internet, was created this year. 

CASK TYPE

Butt

CASK No

9369

NOSE

Forward wood, nuts and spices with a late dried fruit aroma.

PALATE

Big,rounded and very woody.

FINISH

Huge wood with a balance of fruits and clove-like spices.

STRENGTH

52.7% Vol.

COLOR

Rich Rosewood

TINT

49

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

32 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£650

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£700

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£81

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

548 Bottle Equivalents

 

 

 

1969 I Nearly half a million people headed over to a 600-acre farm in New
 York for the Woodstock music festival with many top rock musicians. It lasted
 three days, a weekend of music, love and peace. Sesame Street—, created by the Children's Television Workshop, opened on public television and began to change attitudes about children's learning capabilities. 

CASK TYPE

Hogshead

CASK No

10412

NOSE

Very floral and fragrant with clear spicy apple nose complexed with citrus lemons.

PALATE

Cinnamon chewing gum and apples with a lemon zest tang.

FINISH

Cinnamon spice and apple fruits, reminiscent of Granny's spiced apple crumble.

STRENGTH

59.0% Vol.

COLOR

Oak

TINT

20

YEAR BOTTLED

2002

AGE OF WHISKY

32 Years Old

 

DISTILLERY PRICE

 

BOTTLE SIZE 700ml

£700

BOTTLE SIZE 750ml

£750

BOTTLE SIZE 50ml

£85

TOTAL OUTTURN

 

173 Bottle Equivalents

 

  

 


Written by Ian Wisniewski

 

The text is an excerpt from "The Definitive Guide to Buying Vintage Macallan" (pp. 68 - 77), First Edition, published 2003 by Macallan Distillery Ltd. 



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