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Macallan & Their Royal Releases

Editor’s Note: This guest column comes to us from Mark Littler, an independent whisky broker, market analyst and consultant with over a decade of experience in the industry. Each week he publishes new videos on his YouTube channel about topics such as cask investment fraud (and how to avoid it), the history of distilleries and bottles, debunking whisky investment myths and much more. For more information visit www.marklittler.com

Macallan is widely regarded as the pinnacle of luxury whisky, and this perception is bolstered by Macallan’s long-standing relationship with the British Royal Family. The Speyside distillery has released a number of limited edition bottlings celebrating Royal events such as Royal marriages, coronations, and jubilees. With Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations on the horizon, there is speculation that Macallan may release a Platinum Jubilee bottling, a release that would certainly cause excitement within the whisky industry.

The previous Macallan Royal bottlings are highly-sought after and regarded both by the whisky industry and by whisky collectors and Royal family fans alike. As such, prior to the possible release of a Platinum Jubilee bottling, we are breaking down every Macallan Royal release to date.

Macallan 25 Year Old Silver Jubilee Gordon & Macphail (Released 1977)

Gordon & Macphail is one of the best-known and longest-running independent bottlers in Scotland, and they too have a long-standing relationship with Macallan, having bottled many single malts for Macallan before the distillery began bottling the whiskies themselves. As such, many Macallan official bottlings from prior to the mid-1980s were bottled by Gordon & Macphail and Campbell, Hope & King. One such bottling was the Macallan 25 Year Old Silver Jubilee. This bottling was released in 1977 alongside other Gordon & Macphail bottlings of whiskies from Glenlivet, Talisker, and Glenfarclas, with the Talisker bottling being the rarest of the collection.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became Queen on 6th February 1952 when her father, King George VI, died at the age of 56 following a long period of health decline. Elizabeth was just 25 years old when she ascended to the throne. She was crowned in June 1953, more than one year after the King’s death.

The whisky is presented in a square-shaped bottle with a burgundy label and pale blue detailing that shows the age statement, as well as a crest topped with a crown and drawn curtains framing the bottle details. The bottle has a short, silver screw cap. It also bears the official Macallan logo, thanks to Gordon & Macphail’s official bottling license.

Since the beginning of 2022, this bottle has appeared at auction 7 times selling for between £1,950 and £2,100.

Macallan 25 Year Old Silver Jubilee Christopher & Co Magnum (Released 1977)

A rare and highly sought after bottling of Macallan is the Macallan 25 Year Old Silver Jubilee Christopher & Co Magnum, also released in celebration of Elizabeth II’s 25 years on the throne. This is a 1.5-litre bottle of 25 year old Macallan whisky containing spirit that was distilled in the 1950s and bottled by Christopher & Co Ltd under license from Macallan.

Whilst there are no official release numbers for this bottling, it is clear that this bottling is extremely rare, having appeared at auction just 12 times since its first appearance in 2007. The bottle has not yet appeared at auction in 2022, but in 2021 it sold for between £5,000 and £7,600.

Macallan Royal Marriage Charles & Diana (Released 1981)

When Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer married in 1981 it was billed as a fairytale wedding. The big day cost a reported £57 million and was watched by 750 million people around the world. It was only fitting that Macallan mark the occasion with another limited edition bottling.

Charles, Prince of Wales is the first son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, born in 1948. Lady Diana Spencer was born to John Spencer, Viscount Althorp and Frances Spencer, Viscountess Althorp on 1st July 1961. The couple were married on the 29th July 1981 at St Paul’s cathedral. What followed was a tumultuous marriage that eventually ended in separation in 1992 and divorce in 1996. The couple had two children, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (b.1982) and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex (b.1984). Diana was tragically killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31st 1997. Her death was met with mass public grief, and she remains one of the best-loved members of the Royal family to this day.

The Macallan Royal Marriage 1981 is a vatting of whisky from two vintages, 1948 and 1961, the years in which Charles & Diana were born. The whisky was bottled at 86 proof in a 750ml bottle and is a NAS (no age statement) bottling.

The bottle is a standard 75cl bottle, the common volume used in the United Kingdom at the time. It has a beige label in the centre of which are two casks labelled 1948 and 1961 (for the couples’ birth years). The label also bears the text “[t]o mark the historic occasion of the Wedding of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales & the Lady Diana Spencer, the Directors of The Macallan-Glenlivet Distillery respectfully present this loyal celebration vatting: a unique marriage of our fine single malt whisky distilled in 1948 and 1961, respectively the years of the Royal Couple’s births”.

Although there are no release numbers, the Macallan Royal Marriage 1981 is incredibly rare and has only appeared at auction 118 times since auction records began in 2006. That is 118 times in 16 years. The auction hammer for this bottle is currently averaging around £4,500 to £6,000.

Macallan 1952 50 Year Old Golden Jubilee The Whisky Exchange (Released 2002)

Perhaps the rarest bottle on this list in terms of known release numbers is the Macallan 1952 50 Year Old Golden Jubilee commissioned exclusively by The Whisky Exchange. The bottling was released in 2002 to celebrate Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Only 50 bottles were ever released.

The crystal decanter contains whisky distilled in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, and has an age statement of 50 years. The decanter is square with a spherical crystal stopper, and is emblazoned with the text “[a] marriage of 50 different vintages of single malt scotch whiskies distilled at Macallan distillery to celebrate 50 years since the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II”. The strength of the whisky is 47%.

The 70cl decanter has appeared just four times at auction since its first appearance in 2015. There is also a 15cl version of the bottling that has appeared three times. The 70cl decanter last appeared at auction in January 2019 for £7,500.

Macallan Royal Marriage William & Catherine (Released 2011)

The second incarnation of the Macallan Royal Marriage was released in 2011 to celebrate the marriage of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton. Catherine Middleton captured the public imagination and earned many comparisons to her late mother-in-law. The wedding was a point of great national pride and was watched by 26 million people in the UK alone.

William and Kate met in 2001 as students at the University of St Andrews in Fife, Scotland and became engaged in 2010. They married on 29th April 2011 in Westminster Abbey. The couple have three children together, George (b.2012), Charlotte (b.2015), and Louis (b.2018). Prince William is second-in-line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles.

The Macallan Royal Marriage 2011 is filled with whisky from two casks, one that was distilled on April 29th 1996, and one that was distilled on April 29th 1999, with April 29th being the date of the Royal Wedding.

The bottle is decorated with a pale blue label featuring intricate silver foil detail. An intertwined ‘W’ & ‘C’ is topped by a crown, and the text on the bottle reads “to mark the historic occasion of the wedding of HRH Prince William to Catherine Middleton The Macallan Distillers Ltd selected two casks filled on 29th April 1996 & 1999 and married them to create this celebratory bottling”.

Only 1,000 bottles were ever produced, making this NAS Macallan a rarity, and a true gem for any whisky collector or Royal fanatic. The whisky was bottled at 46.8% in a 700ml bottle. Only a handful of bottles have appeared at auction since the start of 2022 and they have sold for between £3,800 and £4,100.

Macallan Diamond Jubilee (Released 2012)

The Macallan Diamond Jubilee was released in 2012 to mark 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne. The bottling featured a number of homages to Her Majesty, including being filled at 52% ABV as a reference to the year of accession in 1952, and the whisky was drawn from its cask on February 8th, the date on which the Queen proclaimed her own accession 68 years ago. The whisky was matured in a sherry cask in typical Macallan fashion and was an instant classic when it hit the market in 2012.

The bottling is a beautiful design and features a ceramic cameo of Her Majesty designed by sculptor Arnold Martin. The cameo is framed in a silver wreath and flanked by four ribbons, two of which feature the Union Jack. The bottle comes with a purple presentation box lined with cream satin.

Only 2,012 bottles were released in line with the year of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations: 2012. In the last four months at auction, this rare and collectable bottle has sold for between £6,200 and £9,100.

Macallan Coronation 60th Anniversary 2 x 35cl (Released 2013)

Although the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 2012, keen fans of the Royal family will know that the actual date of Elizabeth II’s coronation was not until 2nd June 1953, 16 months after the death of her father, King George VI.

In celebration of the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty’s coronation, Macallan released two 35cl bottles of limited edition whisky bottled at 55.7% and 58.1% respectively. Each bottle features an official portrait of the Queen. The first bottle contains whisky matured in an American Oak seasoned sherry cask and features a portrait of the Queen taken by Cecil Beaton on the occasion of her coronation in 1953. The second bottle contains whisky matured in Spanish seasoned sherry casks and features an image of the Queen 60 years on from her coronation. The lighter whisky represents the young monarch and the vitality that became associated with a new Elizabethan era. The darker, more mature whisky represents the monarch as she was 60 years after the fact: mature and full of wisdom.

The two bottles come presented in a red presentation box designed by David Holmes, accompanied by a booklet explaining the origins of the two whiskies, and featuring the official portraits taken by Cecil Beaton and Julian Calder respectively.

Since the start of 2022, the Macallan Coronation 60th Anniversary set has sold for between £3,400 and £4,500 at auction.

Macallan Platinum Jubilee (Released 2022?)

There is no official word from Macallan as to whether we can expect a limited edition bottling in celebration of Her Majesty’s platinum jubilee this year. The exact date of her accession has come and gone, but the UK has traditionally celebrated the Jubilee in June, so we may still expect an announcement. It is safe to say that if a Platinum Jubilee bottle is released it will be to much fanfare.

The success of all of the Macallan Royal bottlings can in part be attributed to their dual appeal. Whisky fans and Royal family fans alike vie for these bottles whenever they come to market, with two completely different sectors of the market driving the prices for these rare and collectable bottles. Many of these bottles are from relatively limited editions and that too will have an effect on the collectability of these bottlings.

Whatever your interest in these bottlings, be it as royal memorabilia or limited edition vintage whisky, Macallan have proven again and again they produce highly sought after bottlings. Macallan still holds the record for the most expensive bottle ever sold, at £1.5million in 2019 and with such pedigree behind them, any of these would make a sound addition to a collection, or indeed a fascinating collection in their own right.

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