En parade

En parade

As part of our 10th Anniversary celebrations Rob Allanson headed up to Speyside as the magazine was invited to lay down a couple of special barrels at The Macallan Distillery.

News | 08 Sep 2008 | Issue 74 | By Rob Allanson

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There are some moments in life that are worth savouring and can be made all the more memorable by some fine company. A trip to The Macallan will normally tick both these boxes but when you add in filling your own barrel as part of the En Primeur scheme, it takes a distillery visit to another dimension.The excitement had started to build the night be for in the comfy surroundings of the Craigellachie Hotel. There was quite a buzz round the bar after dinner as guests started to chat to each other and inevitably the conversations focused on whisky.A few well chosen and discussed drams later I had found one of the couples (a member of the banking community and his wife) who were due to join me up at the distillery. There was a sort of murder mystery, even spy story feel to the evening as we tried to work out who else was joining us on the Macallan escapade.Once up at the distillery in the morning, greeted by the scheme’s co-ordinator Alison Murray, it was clear who the other couples were. An airline pilot and his wife and a couple from Hong Kong made up the select group to fill their casks.Distillery owner Edrington launched En Primeur last year. The invitation only caskbuying scheme offers serious Macallan lovers a unique opportunity.Participants are allowed to select the cask that they buy and therefore the style of The Macallan they will be investing in. Options include European sherry, American sherry or American bourbon, and cask styles include butts, barrels, hogsheads and puncheons.With this in mind, there was a nervous walk from the glorious Easter Elchies House, the home of The Macallan, as we headed up to the filling store.To be honest what should have been a solemn event, was lightened by the humourous comment that the filling machinery had the look of a petrol pump.However all this was put aside once the aroma of sumptuous new make filled the hall. Apples and toffee notes to the fore enveloping the senses as it filled the barrels.This was just the start of a very special visit the Macallan team had planned for us.After a brief rest back at the house, it was a short walk to watch our casks being stowed away in the warehouse and of course signing the heads.That was it then, leave our little babies to mature and off to tour the distillery to learn more about how this fabulous spirit is made, and with a serious tutored tasting session at the end to see how our casks may turn out.The casks themselves will now be stored for 12 years or longer should the owner so wish. When it is deemed ready the whisky will be bottled and given a unique design by the owner in conjunction with the distillery.One of the loveliest parts of the visit was being handed our logbooks after a stunning dinner. The book includes photos of the farming, malting, mashing, fermenting and distilling process, and of course a shot of the cask’s owner bashing the bung in.Airline pilot Jeremy Proctor explained what drew him to investigate the scheme.He said: “I was initially looking for a present for my elder brothers 40th birthday. I had made some enquiries into acquiring a single bottle in his year of birth, this was relatively easy, parting with nearly £2000 for one bottle was not; the search continued.“ My research from here was a pleasurable one, checking to see which distilleries did allowed an individual to buy an entire cask and then tasting a variety of whisky to make up a short list.“I was sold on the idea of En Primeur from the Macallan distillery and went about finding friends and family who might join me on this venture, equal shares in the costs for equal shares in the finished product.“Selling the idea of your very own 12 year old Macallan was easy. The ‘MACALLAN 12’ was formed, giving my bother one of the 12 shares for his 40th was one of the most enjoyable presents I have ever purchased for anyone.” So watch this space for updates on Whisky Magazine’s casks in the future as they mature.
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