The Macallan’s Anecdotes of Ages collection is an ambitious release of whisky and art. Not only does it make use of a particularly characterful whisky from 1967, and not only is it a collaboration with renowned British pop artist Sir Peter Blake, but it also pays tribute to the distillery’s gestalt – its nearly 200 years of history, its craft, its terroir, and its people.
The headliner for the Anecdotes of Ages collection is a set of 13 one-of-a-kind bottles, each themed specifically after a part of what makes up The Macallan, and each a full story of its own. There is one dedicated to The Macallan’s estate, for example, and one to the inspirational Roderick Kemp who owned the distillery from 1892 to 1909. There is one to the River Spey from which The Macallan draws its water, and one to The Macallan’s grand new £140 million distillery that opened in 2018.
One bottle, ‘A New Era of Advertising’ marks The Macallan’s first major advertising campaign in 1979; before that, the annual marketing budget was a mere £25. This edition was auctioned by Sotheby’s last March, fetching US$437,500 with its proceeds benefitting the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum in New York.
Each has a collage-styled label designed by Sir Peter Blake, a pioneering pop art figure known for his colourful collage-style graphical and crowd pieces. His relationship with The Macallan goes back over 30 years, and this is the third collaboration between them. The label artwork on each bottle directly references the story that it tells and the choice of vintage, 1967, is a nod to Blake’s most well-known piece: the album artwork on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Blake has signed the front of each label.
The art and the craft extends also to the bottle and packaging. The bottle is hand-blown by Scottish artisanal glassmakers and features a solid oak stopper. The box is solid oak, fashioned after Blake’s personal art supply storage box, and a drawer to the side includes a leather-bound book that documents each story in the range.
The 13th bottle of the collection, ‘Down to Work,’ chronicles the post-war leadership of the distillery by George Harbinson. In the 1970s, Harbinson made the decision to prioritise sherry oak casks instead of the cheaper and more readily available ex-bourbon casks, a decision that remains a foundation of The Macallan today. This bottle will be kept in The Macallan archive; however, a further 322 replica bottles were created for release (approximately £50,000 for the 70cl bottle). The Down to Work Limited Edition features the same 1967 spirit as the main collection: bottled at 46.7% ABV, it has the personality to match Blake’s artwork and consists of oak and fig notes that lead to hazelnut and strawberry before finishing with chocolate and lightly spiced peach. The packaging is near-identical to the main collection, though it will lack Blake’s signature.
Finally, the Anecdotes of Ages Collection features a special edition no-age-statement single malt that commemorates Blake’s visit to The Macallan estate. Called ‘An Estate, A Community and A Distillery’ (RM4,126) it has a custom presentation box of its own and includes a certificate detailing the history and heritage of the art as well as a printed art scroll. This 47.7% ABV whisky has a rich dried fruit demeanour with hints of spice and vanilla, and finishes long with cinnamon and cacao.
To register your interest for the limited quantities of An Estate, A Community and A Distillery (RM4,126) contact +6012 692 2838 or contact +6012 670 7220, email [email protected] or follow The Macallan Malaysia Official on Instagram for updates.
Find out more about The Macallan Anecdotes of Ages here.
Photos: Mary McCartney