This 65-Year-Old, $35,000 Scotch Is a Window into the Macallan’s Past

The Macallan has been whisky collectors’ brand of choice for decades; the distillery has released so many rare and limited-edition bottlings that it’s hard to believe any treasures still remain. But their latest, the Macallan in Lalique 65 Years Old ($35,000), is an astounding time machine in a glass, the culmination of a decade-long project to release some of the rarest Macallans in the brand’s possession.

The Macallan in Lalique Collection is a pairing of extraordinary, extra-aged whiskies contained in Lalique crystal decanters, each designed to symbolize one of the Six Pillars upon which the brand is built. The collection debuted in 2005 with a 50-year-old expression. The Macallan 65, the final release in the series and also the oldest, was laid down on November 10, 1950—at which time Harry Truman was president, Willie Mays was a top minor-league prospect, and Mick Jagger was 7 years old.

The whisky is a window into a bygone time—a brief period when the Macallan was, surprisingly enough, peated. Back then, the brand did its own floor maltings, meaning the barley used in distilling its whisky was roasted, or malted, in-house. After World War II, fossil fuel to heat the kilns was hard to come by in Scotland, so the Macallan used the fuel at hand: peat. It comes as a shock, when nosing and tasting the whisky for the first time, to sense the unmistakable smoky notes of the peat. 

The Macallan 65 is lighter than expected, both to the eye (its bright amber color is completely natural) and the palate. All that time in oak would qualify it for Social Security status as a human, to say nothing of its status among whiskies. But while its tannic, oaky notes bely its age, it’s also spry and robust. Rich notes of dark fruit come from the sherry-cask aging for which the Macallan is famous, along with the aforementioned light smoke from the peat. It’s in the Macallan tradition, and yet unlike anything the brand is producing today.

The whisky is housed in a crystal decanter resembling a perfume bottle, with a single teardrop in the middle representing the “peerless spirit,” the sixth of the Macallan’s Six Pillars of quality. Like the other bottles in the Six Pillars series, it took more than two years to create the bottle from conception to finished product.

Only two casks of Macallan 65 survived the decades and, after the angels took their share, a mere 450 bottles’ worth remained. Given its desirability, a sighting of a bottle may turn out to be as rare as the whisky itself. (themacallan.com)

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