I Tribute To The Oak Casks
The Macallan’s first collaboration with Lalique in 2005 celebrated the casks in which the whisky is matured. The silhouette of the crystal decanters mirrored the casks’ shape while the stopper and side featured etchings that echo their grain. This was fitting since the people behind Macallan believe that its casks are the biggest contributor to its quality, colour and distinctive aroma and flavour. The Spanish sherry seasoned oak casks are said to deliver flavours of chocolate orange, dried fruits and spices; the American sherry casks provide sweet citrus, light spice, vanilla and light oak flavours while the bourbon-seasoned oak barrels lend the malt hints of citrus, coconut and oak.
The first edition of the decanter series was limited to 470 pieces. Each bottle carried the burnished gold Macallan 50 year old, with heady top notes of cumin, cardamom and darkest maraschino.
II Highly Colour Conscious
All colour in Macallan is natural, derived from the interaction between the “new make” spirit and the oak during maturation. From light oaks to the darkest mahoganies, the range of natural hues are fixed and do not fade over time–a quality that demands much of skill, experience, time and energy from The Macallan’s Whisky Maker. Inspired by this dedication to natural colour, The Macallan-Lalique second decanter represented a marriage of colour, crystal and malt. The decanter was based on the classic paquerettes tiara perfume bottle designed by René Lalique in 1910 and had a stopper in amber-coloured crystal.
Limited to 420 pieces, the decanter held The Macallan 55 Year Old with a nose that’s rich, polished oak with exotic, sweet dried fruits, citrus and a hint of peat smoke. The finish is smooth and spicy with lingering touches of citrus and peat smoke.
III Making The Finest Cut
One reason Macallan tastes as magical as it does is said to be because it takes only 16 per cent of the final distillation from the spirit stills to fill its oak casks. This cream-de-la-cream spirit cut remains one of the smallest in the industry. The third bottle in the Macallan-Lalique partnership celebrated this ‘small spirit cut’ in an intriguing fashion. The special edition decanter was given a stopper that resembled the ‘stilligoute’ of a perfume bottle, the long piece of pure crystal flowing down to a point from the base of the bottle stopper. A portion of the stopper was then left completely clear and not “satinee”, representing the 16 per cent ‘finest cut’.
Inside sat The Macallan 57 Year Old, a marriage of whiskies from a 1950 American oak sherry butt and Spanish oak sherry butts originally filled in 1949, 1951 and 1952. The ‘Finest Cut’ was limited to 400 decanters.
IV Curiously Small Stills
The fourth decanter in the series paid tribute to the Macallan’s small stills, whose unique shape are said to enhance the whisky’s rich, fruity and full-bodied flavours. The decanter design adopted the window of the copper stills, with the side resembling the shape of the handle, the circles of cabochons illustrating the oval-shaped rivets around the window and the round silhouette mirroring the windows’ smooth curves. The most obvious link is the copper on top of the stopper, borrowed directly from a retired Macallan still.
Bottled inside was a cherry-coloured 60-year-old Macallan, with a nose that’s complex cinnamon, toasted apple and lemon intertwined with blackcurrant leaf and polished oak, all encompassed by peat. The finish is succulent, a lightly fired malt that feels like its caressed by peat. Like the previous one, this fourth decanter too was limited to 400 pieces.
VI Headed For A Spiritual Home
Easter Elchies House lies at the heart of The Macallan estate and is one of the six pillars of the brand. Built in 1700 out of locally quarried sandstone for Captain John Grant, the Scottish-styled home, with crow-stepped gables and a turret, appears on every Macallan bottle But the Spiritual Home Decanter, which was totally inspired by the House, was extra special. The harled surface applied to the sandstone walls of the manor house was replicated by the frosted surface texture on three sides of the decanter. The initials of Captain John Grant, JEG, carved on the manor’s datestone was also reproduced on the decanter.
The Spiritual Home decanter, limited to 400 pieces, contained the rare 62-year-old Macallan, a liquid in rich cherry colour, intense on the nose and rich with complexity on the palette, teasing with sweet ginger figs and meandering into cigar leaf flavours.
VI Saluting A Peerless Spirit
The ‘Peerless Spirit’ decanter, released in June 2016, represents the concluding chapter in the Lalique-Macallan re-enactment of the Six Pillars. story of 6 Pillars. Lalique has based the design of the decanter around a “single peerless drop” of the Macallan and is shown falling from the iconic inverted triangle, which appears on every bottle of the single malt. The first use of the triangle can be traced back to Macallan bottlings from the 19th century.
The overall design of the decanter is influenced by the blown and pinched technique used by René Lalique for many of his famed perfume bottles. Inside rests a 65-year-old whisky, with a finish that is very long and carries a rich flavour of honey and dark chocolate. It is one of the oldest and rarest releases of the distillery. Limited to 450 individually numbered decanters, The Macallan 65 Year Old ‘Peerless Spirit’ will retail at $35,000.