The Macallan release their oldest single malt whisky, which was distilled during World War II

Their master whisky maker decided the cask had reached its peak

Published 9th Feb 2022
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

In the spring of 1940, as part of World War II, Germany invaded Norway and occupied Denmark, there was blitzkrieg in Belgium and the Netherlands, while rationing was introduced in the UK. The same year, The Macallan distilled the cask that would become The Reach, before wartime forced the Speyside distillery to temporarily close, from August 1942 until March 1945, for the first time in its history.

Today, this expression will be released for sale and is on display at The Macallan Estate Boutique, with just 288 decanters available, as this producer’s oldest ever whisky.

Kirsteen Campbell, their master whisky maker, who decided that this cask had reached peak maturity, says: “It is an honour to introduce The Reach. Created during a turbulent time in the world, this extraordinary expression showcases The Macallan’s history, ingenuity and unmistakable strength of character.

“It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit which never wavered. Its deep auburn hue is the first hint of this remarkable whisky’s astonishing depth. Offering notes of dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon and aromatic peat, leading on to treacle toffee, crystalised ginger and charred pineapple, before giving way to an intensely rich, sweet and smoky finish.”

Although this is officially this distillery’s oldest, they’ve already launched a couple of limited-edition septuagenarians.

The most recent was Tales of The Macallan Volume I, released in August last year, which features a single malt that dates back to 1950.

In 2018 there was The Macallan 72 Year Old in Lalique - The Genesis Decanter, which was released to mark the opening of their new Craigellachie distillery, and 2020 saw the launch of The Red Collection, with The Macallan 71 Year Old, as well as a 74 Year Old and a 78 Year Old, with the latter currently on sale online for around £120,000.

The newest Scotch will be a snip at £92,000, and is likely to appreciate in value, thanks in part to the presentation, which features a more elaborate design than previous releases.

It's presented in a cabinet made from a fallen elm tree, which is thought to have been part of The Macallan Estate back in 1940, and the decanter is supported by a dramatic and detailed sculpture of three disembodied bronze hands. These were created by Scottish sculptor, Saskia Robinson, and one of them represents the hand of Campbell, who selected the cask. Another is the hand of one-time chairman, screenwriter and producer, Allan Shiach, whose grandfather headed the company in 1940. The third was created from an artist’s impression of an anonymous stillman and represents all the wartime workers.

There’s also been an accompanying film created by London-based photographer Nadav Kander and art director Matt Willey. It features music composed and recorded by Scottish band Mogwai to tell the story of The Macallan’s legacy and the collaborative process behind The Reach, and is available to view on the distillery's website.

12 whiskies for £50 and under for Father’s Day - including Macallan and Jack & Victor

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Gaby Soutar is a lifestyle editor at The Scotsman. She has been reviewing restaurants for The Scotsman Magazine since 2007 and edits the weekly food pages.
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