The Macallan’s latest expression will have whisky historians thirsty for knowledge. Dubbed The Reach, the Speyside distillery recently announced its new 81-year-old release, making it the brand’s oldest whisky to date.
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As collectors know, ageing whisky for a long time is a difficult and intricate process. While time in the barrel enhances the complexity and fruitfulness of the liquid, sometimes the wood can become over-extracted, which can ruin its flavour and drinkability. Additionally, issues with evaporation are why you rarely see bottles that have aged over the 50-year mark. According to Food & Wine, a 78-year-old single malt was not only the Macallan’s oldest drop to date but the world’s. However, Glenlivet then unveiled an 80-year-old in 2020. Not settling for second best, The Reach has officially taken back the crown.
The record-breaking whisky was first poured into a sherry cask in 1940. During its 81 year span, the single malt developed a rich flavour profile including dark chocolate, peat and ginger, with the distillery’s trademark subtle smokiness. The vibrant amber colour of the liquid is complemented by its unique decanter. The hand-blown glass vessel comes held by a bronze statue featuring three hands. The Macallan says each hand represents the distillery’s staff in 1940, Chairman Allan Shiach and the last master whiskey maker Kirsteen Campbell.
Campbell spoke to Forbes about The Reach’s significance: “It’s hard to put into words how truly special this whisky is. The expression encapsulates the spirit of The Macallan and the timeless nature of our mastery and craftsmanship.” Limited to just 288 decanters, getting your hands on The Macallan bottle won’t come cheap. The Reach will be sold for a whopping US$125,000 (AU$174,000) a bottle.