The Macallan is a single malt scotch distillery most famous for two things—sherry cask maturation and releasing extremely old and expensive whiskies. The latter trajectory continues with this new 52-year-old expression, although the former differs a bit with a long initial maturation period in a bourbon barrel instead of a sherry cask.
This whisky is not an official release from The Macallan; rather, independent spirits merchant Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky Ltd. is the company behind the new bottling. It’s part of the Duncan Taylor Rarest Collection, and is four years older than the previous release in this series which was also a Macallan single malt. That whisky was aged entirely in Oloroso casks for a full 48 years, something that would be expected from this sherry cask-focused distillery.
This new single-cask, 52-year-old single malt was distilled on September 10, 1969 (cask 8376, to be exact). It was matured in a bourbon barrel for about 46 years before being transferred to a first-fill Oloroso sherry cask for another six years and bottled last July. To be clear, bourbon barrels are used as well as sherry casks at The Macallan, as they are indeed the backbone of the scotch whisky industry maturation process. But nearly half a century in a bourbon barrel does make this Macallan whisky a unique offering given the dominance of whisky aged in sherry-seasoned wood at the distillery. It’s bottled at 41.46 percent ABV and is non-chill filtered with no color added.
“It’s an incredible privilege to be the custodian of these stunning rare Macallan casks,” said Duncan Taylor chairman Euan Shand in a statement. “This is the start of an exciting chapter at Duncan Taylor as we plan to release more Macallan over time, as well as a selection of other rare malts from the 1960s.” This particular rare malt comes in an eye-catching crystal decanter that was designed to look like a dirk, or an ancient Scottish dagger, which comes housed in a European oak cabinet. Official tasting notes detail dark chocolate, creamy vanilla and spice on the palate, followed by a finish that has more tropical fruit notes than might be expected from The Macallan’s usual sherry cask-matured whisky.
This is the oldest Macallan whisky from Duncan Taylor to date, although the company released a couple of bottlings earlier this year from some lesser-known distilleries that came close in age—Kinclaith 51-Year-Old and Caperdonich 50-Year-Old. The SRP for the whisky is £75,000 (about $90,500), approaching the high bar of $125K set by the release of The Macallan 81 Year Old last year. Don’t expect to find this at your local liquor store, given that there are only 228 bottles with just 14 allocated to the US. But you can contact the importer directly at email@example.com if you’re interested in buying one.