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The Macallan launches 81-year-old whisky

The Macallan has launched an 81-year-old whisky called The Reach – believed to be the oldest single malt ever released and priced at £92,000 (US$125,000) a bottle.

The spirit was filled into a single ex-Sherry cask at the Speyside distillery in 1940, shortly before The Second World War forced The Macallan to close for the first time in its history.

Bottled at 41.6% abv, only 288 decanters are available worldwide, featuring eye-catching packaging: a mouth-blown glass decanter sitting on a bronze sculpture of three hands, created by Scottish artist Saskia Robinson.

The hands represent the distillery workers of 1940 who made the whisky; former Macallan chairman Allan Shiach, whose grandfather was running the company in 1940; and Kirsteen Campbell, The Macallan’s current master whisky maker.

Indentations on the glass surface of the decanter match the fingerprints of the hands, and the decanter is housed in an elm cabinet, sourced from a tree thought to have been growing on the Macallan Estate surrounding the distillery in 1940.

‘Created during a turbulent time in the world, this extraordinary expression showcases The Macallan’s history, ingenuity and unmistakable strength of character,’ said Campbell. ‘The creation of many hands, The Reach has been a truly collaborative effort. It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit which never wavered.’

Accompanying the release is a film telling the story of The Macallan and the making of The Reach, created by London-based photographer Nadav Kander and featuring original music composed and recorded by Scottish band Mogwai.

The Reach is now on display at The Macallan Estate Boutique, and will later be available from the single malt’s domestic and travel retail outlets.

Last year, independent whisky bottler Gordon & MacPhail broke the record for the oldest single malt Scotch whisky with the release of Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80 Year Old from Glenlivet Distillery, also filled into cask in 1940, and priced at £80,000 a bottle.

The first of 250 decanters was auctioned for a record HK$1.5m (US$193,000) by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong.

The Macallan The Reach: Notes from the distiller

Colour: Deep auburn.

Abv: 41.6%.

Nose: Dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon, aromatic peat, plums, leather, pink grapefruit, redcurrant jelly and a rich resinous note.

Palate: Treacle toffee, bramble jam, liquorice, crystalised ginger, nutmeg, charred pineapple, pecans, woodsmoke.

Finish: Intensely rich, sweet and smoky.

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