The curvy Lalique crystal decanter comes in a box that’s literally fit for the queen, as it’s made by a British Royal Warrant cabinetmaker. This Macallan 72 Year Old is one of only eight released in Canada, and is so coveted that Vancouver’s interested customers put their names in a random January 2019 draw at BC Liquor Stores to determine who would buy the single bottle available here. (Though one more will come to B.C. in a later second release.)
“We’ve always dabbled in super-premiums,” says Cameron Millar, the brand’s dapper Canadian brand ambassador, dressed in a suit the colour of sherry with his shirt, tie, pocket square, and waistcoat patterns mixed as expertly as a well-blended whisky. “We want to define the mastery of spirit and wood.”
He explains that The Macallan 72 is an extremely rare whisky from the Second World War era, when the brand still peat-smoked its malted barley. Saved for decades and finally released to celebrate the opening of its sprawling new Scotland distillery last year, the cachet isn’t just that it’s an old, expensive Scotch in an architectural package: “It has to be innovative,” Millar asserts. And, most importantly, “it has to still taste like Macallan.”
Millar leads a small invited group through a tasting of the Master series, each bottle exemplifying an iconic characteristic of the whisky that helps define the 72 Year Old.
The Rare Cask has a rich, mouth-coating texture that he calls “meltingness,” with notes of vanilla, baking spices, and apple; the finish “echoes” with layers of flavour long after the last sip. “It’s like a great novel: all the chapters have to be good, and the finish has to make me want to come back for more,” Millar says. Then there is Reflexion, fragrant with orange peel and apricot, yet dark, dry, and cinnamon-ginger spicy on the palate, from aging in half-size barrels made from massive Jerez oak casks—“for twice the influence of wood.” And No. 6 rolls on the tongue like creamy marzipan or nougat, with raisins and dates. “We’ve turned the volume of the sherry note up to 10 here,” Millar jokes of the nutty, decadent Macallan signature. Finally, the sleek, modern decanter of M pours deeply-aged rancio notes: cigar smoke, earthiness, and hits of coffee, bitter cocoa, and pepper. A dram of Macallan M looks as dark as the mahogany or rosewood of a power broker’s desk. “That colour, to me, says success,” Millar shares—particularly for a brand that refuses to add so-called caramel colouring to artificially enrich the appearance of its Scotch.
These signature elements all add up to the Macallan 72. “They’ve put it together in the right way,” Millar says. “And I wouldn’t touch it with a drop of water.”
The complexity of drinking a great whisky is “like a performance,” he adds. And as a number is drawn in the hushed room and a lucky customer elbows forward to lay down $74,000 for a coveted taste, it is a theatrical moment in whisky, indeed.
Read more about The Macallan.