The Macallan is a scotch whisky distillery best known for two things—pretty much all sherry cask-aged whisky all the time, and bottling some really expensive old whiskies. For example, the distillery recently released its oldest whisky to date, the 81-year-old “The Reach” priced at $125,000 a bottle.
It’s fun to read about these ultra-mature and unobtainable-to-most whiskies, but there’s something to be said for actually being able to try the whisky you’re reading about. The Macallan’s new Distil Your World New York Edition seemed to be a limited-edition but collectible whisky at first blush, priced at $4,300 with just 1,000 bottles available. But look around online and you’ll find it going for quadruple that, with prices hovering around the $20,000 mark. So what gives?
New York is the second bottle release in the Distil Your World series from The Macallan (the first was London). The point of this new whisky is to capture the spirit of New York City, but how does one actually do that in liquid form? Well, a bit of imagination and creative license from the whisky makers is involved, and fortunately for The Macallan, the distillery has a decade-long relationship with famed Michelin-starred Spanish chefs the Roca Brothers.
Joan Roca and Macallan whisky maker Polly Logan traveled to New York City to fill all of their sensory receptacles with the smells, flavors and visions of this iconic city. They met with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, street artist Lady Pink and clothing designer Zero Waste Daniel, to soak up the flavor of New York City. Logan has said she was inspired by street foods like “sweet candy, waffles, peanut brittle, chocolate and pecans.” Personally, I’d go with pizza and Halal cart chicken and white sauce, but that might not make for good whisky notes. Other aspects of the city that inspired them were the smells of the hot nut carts and pretzel vendors, and the minerality of the streets after a rainfall.
Logan then selected six casks to assemble this whisky, both European and American sherry-seasoned oak (the age range is not revealed), based on the specific notes that inspired her and Roca. The color, a dark copper, is described as “city sunrise.” On the nose, there is indeed some apple, which was an obvious note to go for, along with a burst of citrus. The palate is very recognizably Macallan, with the sherry influence bringing out flavors of dark chocolate, some burnt orange, a bit of cherry syrup and just a touch of spice on the finish. The bottle comes with some extra bells and whistles, housed inside a white box with an aerial map of New York City engraved on it, and a book detailing the inspirations behind the whisky via some very nice photography. There’s also a documentary that you can watch about the whisky on YouTube.
You’ll have to have some very deep pockets in order to sample the whisky for yourself, something that is enticing to well-heeled whisky collectors but ranges from annoying to infuriating for the average whisky drinker. There’s no point in arguing about whether the whisky is worth any particular price, because it’s all subjective and circular—the product is limited, the consumer covets, the product becomes more limited and expensive, the consumer covets harder, repeat. Distil Your World New York whisky would be a nice find at its suggested retail price, but whether or not it’s worth $20,000 is really based on what that amount of money means to you. Besides, there’s always that bottle of Double Cask 15 you can drink instead.
What Our Score Means
- 100: Worth trading your first born for
- 95 – 99 In the Pantheon: A trophy for the cabinet
- 90 – 94 Great: An excited nod from friends when you pour them a dram
- 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not quite special enough to chase on the secondary market
- 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, solid and reliable
- Below 80 It’s alright: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this
Every week Jonah Flicker tastes the most buzzworthy and interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back each Friday for his latest review.