The Macallan whisky brand marks an extraordinary event in its history, as it unveils The Reach – a rare and highly significant 81-year-old single malt, and the oldest whisky ever released by the company.

The Reach was laid down in 1940, at The Macallan Estate above the River Spey in north-east Scotland, amid the turmoil of the Second World War, which compelled the distillery (which today occupies a Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners building, completed in 2018) to close its doors for the first time since it was founded in 1824.

The Macallan Distillery in Speyside north-east Scotland
The Macallan Distillery in Speyside north-east Scotland, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and completed in 2018

This incomparable whisky is a testament to the skill and endurance of the craftspeople behind its creation, the dedication necessary to resume the art of whisky-making during turbulent times, and the excellence of those who continue to uphold the distinction of the brand today.

The Reach decanter

To honour the momentous launch, The Macallan is presenting The Reach in an exquisite decanter of mouth-blown glass, cradled on a bronze sculpture of three hands.

Sculptor Saskia Robinson created the piece with bold artistry – working with countless drawings, and the brief that each hand would represent important characters in The Macallan’s unique story. One commemorates the distillery workers of 1940, whose hard work and expertise brought the fine single malt into existence; another is the hand of one-time chairman Allan Shiach, whose grandfather headed the company when this remarkable spirit was first consigned to its cask; and the third is that of today’s master whisky maker Kirsteen Campbell, who carefully selected the 1940 cask used to create The Reach.

Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker
Kirsteen Campbell, master whisky maker of The Macallan. Photography by Christina Kernohan. 

As Campbell explains, ‘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.’

The eight-decade old spirit is revealed within layers of wood, bronze, liquid and glass – with an attention to detail that extends from the magnificent form of the sculpted hands, to the glass surface of the decanter, which features subtle indentations matching the fingerprints of the bronze hands that embrace it. The decanter is housed within a cabinet crafted using wood from a fallen elm tree that is thought to have been on The Macallan Estate in 1940.

Barrels stored at the distillery
Barrels stored at The Macallan distillery

Glowing at the centre of this visually arresting presentation is the whisky itself. Campbell says, ‘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, crystalised ginger and charred pineapple, before giving way to an intensely rich, sweet and smoky finish.’

Few will have the opportunity to taste this unique legacy, as The Reach is limited to only 288 decanters worldwide, priced £92,000 each. §