The Macallan has released two new additions to its successful Double Cask range – the 15 Years Old and the 18 Years Old – and you can have a taste of them (and more) at its new experiential space at Raffles Hotel Singapore.
The Macallan is known for its approachable, deliciously smooth whisky that is distilled in “curiously small stills” and almost entirely aged in sherry-seasoned Spanish casks, which gives it an oily texture and hints of that classic fruit cake flavour well-loved by enthusiasts. It’s also famous for releasing some of the world’s most expensive extra-aged bottles, including The Macallan Fine and Rare 60-Year-Old 1926, which smashed auction records at US$1.9m last year.
But that doesn’t mean the distillery decided to sit back and rest on its laurels. In 2016, it launched The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old, which spent its life in both sherried American and European oak before being married together. The result is a bright single malt imbued with notes of honey, citrus and ginger, evocative of warm, marmalade-filled Danish pastries.
Worth the wait
The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old is now part of a collection with the introduction of two new Double Cask siblings, the 15 Years Old and 18 Years Old. Like the 12 Years Old, the latest expressions bring together two oak profiles: European oak from the forests of northern Spain and the French Pyrenees, and new American oak from Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky. The wood is transported to Jerez in Spain to be made into casks and filled with sherry by traditional craftsmen.
The cask-making process is a lengthy one. First, the wood has to be air-dried for a year from when it was felled before being cut into long, thin pieces called staves. The staves are air-dried again for another year before toasting, which is traditionally done over an open fire to caramelise the wood sugars. Different toasting levels, of course, produce different flavours.
Once seasoned, the casks are shipped to The Macallan Estate on Speyside in Scotland where they are filled with new make spirit to be aged. This is where whisky comes into its own. With the Double Cask, The Macallan’s Whisky Mastery Team finds the best balance of spirit from both the American and European sherried oak casks to create a beautiful fusion of vanilla and subtle spice. “Bringing together American and European oak sherry seasoned casks to achieve the perfect balance of flavours is incredibly exciting for the Whisky Mastery Team, and we are proud to offer two new expressions to this distinctive range for The Macallan Double Cask fans to explore,” said Master Whisky Maker, Kirsteen Campbell. “Oak influence is the single greatest contributor to the quality, natural colour and distinctive aromas and flavours at the heart of The Macallan’s single malts.”
In a lovely hue which The Macallan describes as “golden butterscotch”, the Double Cask 15 Years Old promises a creamy mouthfeel, wisps of vanilla, wood spice and citrus intermingling with sweet raisin and sultana on the palate, and a warm, soothing finish of ginger, caramel and citrus. The oldest of the Double Cask, the 18 Years Old delivers, according to Campbell, “slightly more complexity”,with delicate flavours of vanilla, caramel and ginger dancing alongside heavier notes of rich raisin, sultana, wood spice and zesty citrus. The warm oak spice finish is balanced by citrus flavours of sweet orange.
Experience the magic
A trip down to The Macallan Estate is arguably the ultimate way to get up close with the distillery beyond its fine whiskies, but since we can’t travel as we please until a vaccine surfaces, the next best thing is, well, right in our own backyard.
The Macallan at Raffles Hotel Singapore, which opened to much fanfare in late October, offers an immersive glimpse into the brand’s whisky legacy. Sprawled across seven shop units at Raffles Arcade, the entire concept consists of three sections: a permanent bar-lounge-gallery-boutique, a private dining room and a pop-up experiential space that houses The Macallan Experience.
“The Macallan Experience is far more than a brand exhibition or tasting experience,” explains Francois Saurel, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific for The Macallan. “It has been curated entirely to bring our stories and heritage to life through a narrative that takes drinkers into the depths of The Macallan, revealing what makes it the exceptional single malt it is today. This unique immersive experience also allows us to share stories from around the world which demonstrate the power of bravery and courage in shaping lives, experiences and progression.”
The Macallan’s storied barrels greet you at the start of your mini pilgrimage in the Cask Entry Tunnel, which leads to a room where you’ll feel the heat, the sounds and the vigour of the cask-toasting process in Jerez. Then, spend some time in the gallery to see the making of its exceptional oak casks through the perspective of distinguished Magnum photographer, Steve McCurry. More than just a visual documentary of his travels from the vast green forests of Northern Spain to Pennsylvania in the United States, the atmospheric images also reflect the shared values between McCurry and The Macallan in their deep respect for nature and going beyond the ordinary in pursuit of mastery. “Sometimes you have to choose a different path – the one less taken – to go beyond hardship, to reach excellence,” McCurry adds.
Ready your senses for what follows: a state-of-the-art cinematic experience in which you’ll be introduced to two The Macallan whiskies, while watching a short film about the professional journeys of three inspiring individuals. The Macallan Experience runs for a limited time until Feb 10, 2021 and is priced at $28 per person. One hundred per cent of the proceeds from the Sensory Cinema ticket sales will be donated to the Water and Healthcare Foundation (WAH) to help rural communities in Cambodia.
If you’re not quite keen to commit to a full bottle before knowing how it actually tastes, head over to the sleek The Macallan lounge for more drams of liquid sunshine.
Also on display are some of the oldest and rarest whiskies from the distillery’s archives, such as The Macallan 72 Years Old in Lalique, The Macallan in Lalique Six Pillars Collection, Fine and Rare, Masters of Photography, and the Raffles Hotel Singapore edition.
That hypnotic art installation at the other side of the room? It’s not just for show. Designed by neuroscience agency Rebel and Soul and award-winning creative technology agency FutureLabs, the kinetic masterpiece allows guests to interact with the mesmerising formations inspired by the nature and craft that goes into The Macallan Six Pillars single malts.
Perhaps the most intriguing experience you can have at The Macallan at Raffles Hotel Singapore is within the secret private dining room, where gourmands can indulge in a curated and exclusive menu – paired with The Macallan whiskies, no less – by Pierre Burgade, Executive Chef of Raffles Singapore, and his team of Chefs de Cuisine from La Dame de Pic, yì by Jereme Leung, and Butcher’s Block.
The Macallan Experience at #01-04 Raffles Hotel Singapore opens daily to the public from 11am to 9.30pm. For more information, visit themacallanexperience.com.