Whether it’s winemakers, brewers or distillers, sustainability is at the forefront of most drinks producers’ minds. How they craft and source in the future is shaped by what they collectively choose to do now and what systems they put in place. This sustainability takes on different guises, from carbon neutral to biodynamic and sustainable farming to biodegradable packaging.
We often see this in newer drinks producers in the market but what is often overlooked is established brands quietly championing their sustainability, a very ‘proof is in the pudding’ approach instead of shouting it from the rooftops.
An excellent example of this is The Macallan Whisky distillery in Scotland, established in 1824 based on six tenets (or what they call ‘pillars’) that have formed the foundation of not only the brand but their almost 200-year labour of love in sustainable whisky production.
These ‘Six Pillars’ of The Macallan are represented in small and large ways. For instance, their newly built distillery carved into the ancient hills of Speyside has one of Europe’s largest green roofscapes at just over 12,000 sqm. Planted with a mix of native species and herbs, it provides sustainable food and nesting resources for birds and insects. The entire 2018 new distillery build by internationally acclaimed architects was created to promote sustainability. The Macallan displays an ongoing commitment to circularity in their oak usage. With their Master of Wood, Stuart MacPherson, overseeing not just how The Macallan selects the wood but making sure it has a long life after the distillery is finished with the casks; by repurposing the oak for other uses, such as garden furniture, bar furniture or chipped for use as seasoning, animal bedding or biomass.
This focus on sustainability also includes the parts of production that don’t occur within the distillery walls. Their barley supply network is subject to the highest independent certification FSA standards via Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform — Farm Sustainability 2.0 (SAIP). These sustainable practices also include their whisky packaging, with 98% of every bottle of The Macallan packaging using only recyclable and sustainable materials.
In 2022, the newest release of the ‘M’ Collection is a culmination of their lessons in sustainability to date. The Macallan M Collection is a range of limited-release single malt whiskies celebrating The Macallan’s Six Pillars, the foundation stones that have illuminated the path to creating the brand’s exceptional spirits. With future limited-release editions in the years ahead.
Visually representing the ‘Six Pillars’, the ‘M Collection’ decanters are beautiful masterpieces created in collaboration with renowned creative director Fabien Baron and French crystal maker Lalique. Envisioned by Baron, they feature six facets, while Lalique has drawn on over 130 years of mastery to bring refinement and flawless clarity.
In particular, the ‘M Copper’ whisky within this release is their most precious spirit release to date. The ‘M Copper’ is encased in a handcrafted Lalique copper-coloured crystal decanter to represent the copper stills (the smallest stills in commercial whisky production to date) and reflects the authenticity which drives The Macallan through its dedication to innovative methods. The decanter is a visual representation of the Six Pillars and is sustainably sourced in Scotland.
Incorporating all the sustainable methods above and focusing on 100% all-natural and sustainably sourced ingredients, this $14,500AU whisky exhibits notes of sweet banana, pear and white peach with hints of malty biscuit, vanilla marshmallow notes with an unwinding citrus note on the finish, alongside a trademark toasty oak character, which is perfect for sunset sipping on a balcony.
Jaume Ferras, Global Creative Director for The Macallan, explains, “Our Six Pillars foundation stones embody all that is unique to The Macallan, together underpinning the renowned quality and rich character of our whisky and The Macallan M Collection tells the story of these unique attributes. We are dedicated to uncompromised excellence and proud to collaborate with Fabien Baron and Lalique to bring these extraordinary expressions to life and with Nick Knight to create a dramatic visual world for the collection.”