It may be hard to imagine today, but for much of the 20th century, Macallan was primarily a constituent malt in blends. It was not until the 1980s downturn in the market that the distillery decided to focus on its single malt brand. Fortuitously, this coincided with the crest of a wave of enthusiasm for the high quality releases that the distillery had licensed to Campbell, Hope & King and Gordon & MacPhail in the 1960s and 1970s. These remain some of the most collectible on the market. While global single malt sales volume is still lead by Speyside neighbours, Glenfiddich and Glenlivet, Macallan is easily the most sought after. So much so in fact, that they had to open a brand new distillery in 2018, a subterranean architectural masterpiece within the Easter Elchies estate, boasting 36 copper pot stills.
Although the 18 year old is most synonymous with the Macallan brand, this short-lived vintage 15 year old is another sought after and highly regarded whisky. The expression was introduced alongside a new label and packaging design for the 18 year old in 1999, but disappeared again shortly after. Only two vintages were ever bottled, this and the 1985.
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