Macallan | Liquid History

During the 1980s Macallan was far from the iconic brand, synonymous with luxury, that it is today.



Although highly prised by blenders, it wasn’t exactly a household name, so the decision to release a range of premium single malts ranging from twenty-five to forty-five years old was a bold move. Unofficially known as the Handwritten Label series, these expressions might be a far-cry from the Lalique decanters and luxury packaging we associate with modern-day premium Macallan, but they still ooze quality; with elegantly handwritten labels, bound by a red ribbon bearing the distillery’s seal. Yes, you might get a skelf if you look at the box the wrong way, but that’s just part of the charm.



Lot 150 in our June whisky auction is the oldest expression in this series, aged for around forty-five years and distilled in 1938, just one year prior to the outbreak of the second world war. It is regarded by those lucky enough to have tried it as one of the finest expressions produced by the distillery, although notes of “Havana smoke” and “seawater” suggest it is a different beast to the Macallan we’re familiar with today. What’s certain is that the stellar reputation enjoyed by the distillery today was built on the legacy of expressions such as this.



And what could be a better companion to the 1938 vintage than one distilled shortly after the end of the war? Look no further than lot 53, a 1946 vintage aged for a staggering 52 years in Sherry wood. High post-war coal prices meant that the barley used for this expression was dried using peat instead, making this another outlier from Macallan’s typical flavour profile. In fact, when this bottling was released in the late 1990s it wasn’t instant success, but over time it has become an acknowledged classic and an essential part of any serious Macallan collection.

These bottles have played a huge role in cementing Macallan as one of the world’s premier whisky brands, and McTear’s are delighted to offer both in this month’s auction. We only ask that if you become their new owner and decide to open them, that you send us a sample!



McTear’s is the longest-established auctioneer of whisky in the world. Entries are invited for this international auction. For a complimentary, no-obligation valuation, visit our Glasgow Galleries or contact our specialist on 0141 810 2880 or

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