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5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Macallan Reach 81 Year Old

The Macallan 81 Year Old Reach is celebrated as the oldest whisky ever released by the iconic Macallan Distillery in Speyside. Being the director of The Grand Whisky Auction I am fortunate enough to see all kinds of vintage bottles. However, very few are as rare and as spectacular as this bottle, that can only be described as a piece of art. 

With that being said, what really makes this bottling so special? Here are 5 things we picked out that you need to know about The Macallan Reach. 

1. The Whisky In The Macallan Reach Was Distilled In The 1940s

1940 saw the beginning of WWII and the country was in turmoil. This did not deter Dr. Allan Shiach who ran the distillery at the time. The Kemp family still owned the distillery at this time and they pushed forward in their commitments to keep producing spirit despite the shortages of raw materials, in particular barley which some would argue could have gone to much better use! Fuel was also incredibly scarce, not to mention the government-imposed restrictions on distilling. 

The production of this whisky came just shortly after the US Prohibition which was a huge factor in so many of Scotland’s producing distilleries closing their doors. It is understood that Scotland once operated 159  legal distilleries and in 1933 only 15 remained. Macallan was one of the lucky few to have survived! 

At Macallan in 1939, 10.7 million gallons were produced pre-war. It is estimated the total amount of whisky produced in Scotland during the war was 4.5 million proof gallons (17 Million Liters) per year across only 15 distilleries. This is only 3.8% compared to that of 2023 when nearly 442 million litres were produced.

Right from the outset, the odds were stacked against this single cask. 

2. The Macallan Reach Is Part Artwork, Part Whisky

Allan Schiach. Credit: The Macallan

Described as the work of many hands, the Reach pays homage to the history of the people who made it all possible and their unwavering commitment. The bottle is said to be held aloft by its makers who created and protected the Macallan over eight decades ago. 

The other two hands are that of Allan Schiach who had led The Macallan from 1938 to 1947 and is the great grandson of Roderick Kemp. The third and final hand is that of 

The third and final is that of Kirsteen Campbell who heads up The Macallan Whisky Mastery Team. 

It is not only a masterpiece in terms of its liquid contents but also in its presentation. Each bottle is hand-blown and housed in a decanter crafted by renowned crystal makers.

The decanter is presented in a bespoke cabinet, made from sustainably sourced oak and adorned with a bronze sculpture by acclaimed sculpturist Saskia Robinson. 

The combination of artistry and craftsmanship in the decanter and cabinet elevates The Macallan 81 Year Old Reach from a mere bottle of whisky to a collector’s item of unparalleled beauty and significance.

3. The Macallan Has Deep Roots in Conservation and Community

In keeping with The Macallan’s commitment to sustainability, the packaging of The Macallan 81 Year Old Reach has been designed with the environment in mind. The bespoke oak cabinet is crafted from wood sourced from what was thought to be a tree that was growing on the estate in 1940. 

This attention to sustainability reflects The Macallan’s broader strategy to ensure that its legacy endures for future generations as did its forebearers. 

In conjunction with the release of The Macallan Reach, the distillery has announced a series of charitable initiatives aimed at supporting education and environmental conservation. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each decanter will be donated to the Macallan Estate Foundation, which funds scholarships for aspiring whisky makers and supports conservation projects on the estate. These initiatives underscore The Macallan’s commitment to giving back to the community and preserving the natural environment that is integral to the whisky-making process.

The Macallan’s philanthropic efforts highlight the distillery’s recognition of its role not only as a producer of fine spirits but also as a steward of tradition and a champion of sustainability. By investing in education and environmental conservation, The Macallan ensures that its legacy of excellence continues to inspire and benefit future generations.

4. It’s The Oldest Age Statement Macallan In The World

The Macallan Reach was drawn from a single cask that had slumbered for 81 years.

Drawn from a single sherry-seasoned cask, this 81 Year Old was bottled at 41.6% ABV. This bottling must have been hiding from the angels as they typically remove around 2-3% of liquid each year. 

Over what would be close to 30 thousand days or 720,000 hours, this dram progressively inherited character and depth like no other from the cask. It is a deep mahogany color and is rich in flavor. 

The Macallan Reach has lived longer than Burt Lancaster, Alfred Hitchcock, and Marlon Brando. 

5. The Shipping Box Is Huge!

With the demand for this bottle being so high, collectors all around the world are desperate to add this bottle to their collection. The Macallan has specially engineered the transportation packing to fit the bill with the outer box being almost 5 feet tall! 

So there you have it – the Macallan Reach in all its glory.

If you want the chance to own one of these amazing bottles you can bid on it here.

Interested in learning more about The Macallan? See here for 5 more things you didn’t know. 


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