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The Ultimate Guide To The Macallan 18 Year Old

This image shows the progression in the packaging design of the Macallan 18 Year Olds.

The Macallan is, without question, one of the foremost scotch whisky brands in the world. Founded by Alexander Reid in 1824 on the Elchies Estate, The Macallan has been producing high-quality scotch whisky for two centuries (happy bicentenary Macallan!). 

Of course, The Macallan would not be what it is today without the iconic Macallan 18 Year Olds. As the distillery’s longest-running series (which is still going in 2024) the bottlings are a staple of The Macallan’s core range. In addition to this, the 18 Year Olds represent incredible forethought on the part of the distillery, which was laying down casks to age and bottled as single malts at a time when blended scotch whisky dominated the market.  

The Macallan 18 Year Olds have, however, been through many changes over the years. Exploring everything from origins to packaging changes, to current market prices – here is everything you need to know in the ultimate guide to the Macallan 18 Year Old. 

What is The Macallan 18 Year Old? 

Just some of the vintages in the famed series.

The Macallan 18 Year Old series is the longest-running age-statement series by the iconic Speyside distillery. The Macallan Distillery is renowned for its ‘sherry-bomb’ single malts, and the 18 Year Olds are no exception. 

Beginning with a 1965 vintage, the 18 Year Old has been an annual release from The Macallan since the early 1980s. The distillery also released some ‘Special Selection’ bottlings around this time. Some of these are also 18 years old but do not carry an age statement; we can only tell the age by the distillation and bottling dates. 

Today, The Macallan 18 Year Olds do not carry vintage, only bottling dates. This change, as well as others, will be discussed below. 

When was the Macallan 18 Year Old first released?  

 As mentioned above, some of the Macallan Special Selections were bottled at 18 years old. For example, there is a Macallan 1964 Special Selection bottled in 1982. 

However, the first age-statement 18 Year Old was bottled in 1984, having been distilled in 1965.

Packaging Changes 

A 1997 vintage. You can see the purple detailing on the label and the box.

When the first Macallan 18 Year Old was released in 1984, the whisky was presented in a standard liquor bottle Scotland glass bottle with a cream label and a white box. The age statement was displayed on the neck of the bottle, with the vintage displayed on the front label. This bottle also had a light gold screw cap. The 1965 and 66 vintages were the only bottles with such packaging. 

Beginning with the 1967 vintage and ending with the 1980 vintage, the bottle was adorned with a similar label, with the age statement displayed on the neck. However, the boxes then had a distinctive diagonal blue strip across the front, as well as a watercolor rendering of Easter Elchies House. 

From the 1981 vintage to the 1985 vintage, the bottles were presented in tubes rather than boxes. The blue strip was moved to the bottom of both the box and the tube and, for the first time, the age statement was displayed on the front label. 

Between 2004 and 2017 the Macallan 18 Year Olds were bottled in a new, tapered bottle, and presented in a purple box with a gloss finish. During this time period, more specifically in 2016, The Macallan stopped displaying vintage statements on the 18 Year Olds. Instead, the bottle displays the year of release/bottling. As such, the last “vintage” Macallan 18 Year Old hails from 1997. 

In 2018, The Macallan underwent a drastic and luxury rebrand, as did the 18 Year Olds. Since then, the Macallan 18 Year Olds have been presented in Macallan’s new-style bottle and housed in textured, black boxes. 

What is the most expensive Macallan 18 Year Old ever sold? 

The Macallan 1966 18 Year Old is currently the most expensive single bottle in the series to be sold at auction in the UK.

The most expensive Macallan 18 Year Old ever sold at auction was a 1966 vintage. It sold via in January 2022 for £4,100

Sherry Oak vs. Double Cask 

There are two versions of The Macallan 18 Year Olds: the Sherry Oaks and the Double Cask. The Sherry Oak releases refer to the series that began in 1984 and is still running today. This is because the early releases stated on the label that the whisky was “matured in sherry wood”. 

By comparison, the Double Cask bottlings are a much newer venture, first appearing in Macallan’s range in 2021. The Double Cask 18 Year Olds are whiskies matured in a combination of American oak and European oak casks. Therefore, this whisky is a milder alternative to Macallan’s famous ‘sherry bombs’. 

The Double Casks also appear at 12, 15, and 30 years of age. They are an annual release. 

How much is a shot of Macallan 18 Year Old? 

The price of a dram of Macallan 18 Year Old will vary from place to place. Most establishments will be selling drams of the most recent release or the one from the previous year. 

The price will also depend on how large the shot is. For example, in the USA, the standard shotglass size is 44ml. In the UK, however, a single shot is sold as 25ml. 

Taking a look at wine-searcher, I can see that the average price for a 750ml bottle of Macallan 18 Year Old 2023 is $427. There are approximately 17 shots of whisky in a 750ml bottle. So, assuming that the bar or restaurant didn’t put a large markup on a shot, you could expect to pay around $25 for a shot of Macallan 18 Year Old. 

In the UK, the average price for a 700ml bottle of Macallan 18 Year Old is £325. There are approximately 28 shots in such a bottle. As such, UK drinkers could pay around £18 for a shot. 

How much is the Macallan 18 Year Old? 

Again, the price of a full bottle will vary from retailer to retailer. It also largely depends on the vintage of the bottle. 

The earlier vintages, such as the 1966, will cost significantly more. This is because the bottle is older and rarer due to many of them being opened and drunk upon release, back in a time before scotch whisky was considered a luxury asset. The last Macallan 1966 18 Year Old to sell at auction sold for £2,062 (~$2,632). 

Newer Macallan 18 Year Olds will cost significantly less. The last Macallan 18 Year Old 2024 to sell at auction sold for £280 (~$357). 

It is important to note, however, that buying a bottle of Macallan 18 Year Old at retail will set you back a higher amount, due to the margins added by the seller. 

Where to buy 

Building a vertical of the 18 Year Old is an ambition held by many Macallan collectors.

The two most common ways of buying the Macallan 18 Year Olds are auction and retail. 

Buying at auction often means paying a smaller price for a bottle. However, you must be prepared to wait for the bottle you want to be entered into such an auction. In addition to this, US-based scotch whisky auctions are few and far between. In the UK, however, there are many specialist online auctions in which the 18 Year Olds appear quite often. 

If you are based in the US and would like to buy at auction, I would recommend keeping an eye on Unicorn Auctions

In the UK, sites such as Whisky Auctioneer and The Grand Whisky Auction offer a good chance of getting your hands on a bottle. 

Buying at retail is generally more expensive than buying at auction. However, the process is certainly quicker, easier, and more convenient. I have listed below some notable retailers both in the US and the UK that currently stock various Macallan 18 Year Olds. 


Total Wine & More – 2023 release – $409.99
Uptown Spirits – 2023 release- $403.95
The Whiskey Wash Shop – From $1,502 for a Macallan 1997 18 Year Old (FREE SHIPPING TO US) 


The Whisky Exchange – 2023 release – £365
Master of Malt – 2023 release – £349.95
The Whiskey Wash Shop – From £1,152 for a Macallan 1997 18 Year Old (FREE SHIPPING TO UK) 

Looking to branch out from the 18 Year Olds? Check out this handy guide on 5 Macallan Scotch Whiskies For 5 Different Budgets

Beth Squires

Beth joined Mark Littler Ltd full-time in October 2020 following the completion of her university degree. Since then she has gained wide-ranging knowledge of all things whisk(e)y, and has written extensively for both company and external publications. Beth is passionate about industry innovation, marketing, and sustainability. With a particular affinity for independently bottled rare scotch, Beth is also a whisky bottle investment specialist.

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