Edrington brand The Macallan bucks age-old whisky beliefs

By Fiona Barry

- Last updated on GMT

Edrington brand The Macallan bucks age-old whisky beliefs

Related tags Scotch whisky

Edrington brand The Macallan has launched a new line of single malts in Canada that it claims marks a significant shift away from traditional thinking that age is whisky’s most important selling point.

Marc Laverdiere, brand ambassador, The Macallan, told BeverageDaily.com that The Macallan 1824 Series derives its character from cask and color as well as traditional ageing.

“Since the early twentieth century, distillers increasingly put age statements on their whiskies to recognize the importance of maturation, to provide competitive advantage and to help buyers make choices based on age and price points,” ​Laverdiere said.

“However, for too long, age has been seen as ​the only indicator of guaranteed quality, and we know this simply isn’t correct. The age statement ​only tells you the age of the whisky when it was bottled.”

Matured in ‘perfect conditions’

Ivano Taranto, Edrington market manager said the decision to launch the range in Canada spoke to the nation’s “sophistication as a whisky market”​ with annual single malt growth of 15-17%.

The Macallan claims its new 1824 Series whiskies – Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby – develop their qualities from the Spanish oak sherry casks that naturally flavor and color their contents.

“So, as the colours darken and the complexity of the character develops going up the range from Gold to Ruby and beyond, the pool of casks available gets even scarcer and more valuable,”​ Laverdiere said.

“Age only tells you how old a whisky is, not how good it is,”​ he added. “A whisky matured for 12 years in perfect conditions can be of superior quality to an 18-year-old whisky matured in poor wood, such is the intricacy of the interaction of spirit and wood.”

Still a place for age statements

Laverdiere said: “The way we view it, you pick an apple from the tree at its prime ripeness. You look at its colour, smell, texture, firmness. You wouldn’t wait a specific amount of time for the fruit to be ready, you pick it at its prime.”

While The Macallan’s other whiskies range from 10 to 64 years old, Laverdieresaid that the ages of the 1824 series will vary, even in different bottlings of the same product.

The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) has determined that bottles must be labelled according to the youngest whisky in the bottle, no matter how small the amount, and not the average.

While The Macallan’s new line may signal a broader trend in whisky innovations, the company has no plans to abandon its more traditional items. 

“There is no plan to remove all The Macallan with an age statement​,” Laverdiere said.

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