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24 Aug 2016 By

You might be able to crash a fashion party, or blag your way into a concert. You will, however, never be able to spend a night in The Macallan Easter Elchies House without being hosted or asked. So how did we score an invite?

We asked. They said yes. Helps to have friends in Highland places. Otherwise, money won’t buy your way in here. Also helps to be a Macallan enthusiast. The one night here would prove to be the highlight of our Scotland road trip. 

The Macallan Easter Elchies House, built in 1700s in the style of a Highland manor mansion, is seen on every bottle of Macallan whisky. It’s the heart and spiritual centre of the Macallan estate, and it’s sited in a sprawling 370 acres of undulating fields, pristine river and historic houses; the air is a lungful of verdant laughter, coupled with the inescapable scent of Angel’s Share. So we spent one night here, had a tour, a fabulous dinner, a visit to a mysterious room, and a lot more drams than we could handle. This is our photo essay.

The Macallan estate whisky

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” — Jane Austen. (The view from the EE House, on the right you can just about make out River Spey).

The Macallan whiskies barrels casks

It doesn’t look it, but the warehouse has 27,000 casks. We were only able to photograph one small section of it. And from here you get all the subtle and special varieties of Macallan whiskies known all over the world. The output? Ten million litres a year.

The Macallan highland cattle

The Scottish highland cattle (scientific name: Bos taurus) are free to roam and graze around the Macallan fields, but don’t let their placid expressions fool you – never go near them, especially if you’ve had a few. Much further afield is some of the Minstrel barley grown on the estate – 90 acres of it actually – which are used for special editions of their whiskies. (This is only 0.07% of the actual barley the distillery uses a year).

The Macallan Easter Elchies River Spey

A River Spey runs through it… Wells along the banks are dug 25m deep to extract the water which makes the whisky. During fishing season you can get a license from the company to capture salmon here. just look at how azure and clear it is.

The Macallan whisky casks

As you may be aware, Macallan is all about the casks. They use American oak – shipped to Jerez in Spain to be filled with sherry first, and after about 2-3 years those casks are shipped to Speyside intact – with two litres of sherry in there, by the way, so it doesn’t dry up – and filled with Macallan’s peerless spirit. They also us European oak, which impart stronger flavours and colours. The American casks produces their Fine Oak range, the Spanish casks produces the Sherry Oak range.

Marry the spirits from the two distinct types of casks and you get:

The Macallan Double Cask whisky

The Macallan Double Cask 12 Years Old is the perfect marrying of sherry oak and fine oak ranges, resulting in an expression that’s fully rounded and distinct. This launch (Aug 2016) gives us the best of two whirls, it’s a balanced palate of citrus, honey, caramel, fruit and spice.

The Macallan whisky marrying

This is the marrying process: the spirits from various different casks are poured into a conduit which carries it all to a vat where it sits and hangs out before it is bottled. Who knows, this might have been the Double Cask 12 Years Old when we witnessed the marriage. The distillery marries about 700-750 casks a week, with spirits at about 68-72% before being watered down to about 63%. Which over the centuries has given us:

Macallan whiskies

We did say we were treated to a few drams. (A great Parched movie this would make.)

macallan music room

The mysterious music room is in a hidden part of the Easter Elchies house. Here the music is old timey, pumped through air pipes which you have to wind up, with music notes that is a long scroll of paper with holes punched in them. Yes, like every carnival scene in every cowboy movie you’ve seen. It’s a relic from the past that’s still preserved and protected – indicative of Macallan’s own guardianship of its heritage and history. And now for something completely different:

macallan colours

A visual representation of the colours of Macallan’s spirits, seen into their hi-tech visitor’s centre, the most sophisticated of all the ones we visited.

The Macallan Double Cask whisky

Goodbye, and slainté!

The Macallan Easter Elchies

[The awesome folks at Edrington arranged for our night in the EEH, and they have our eternal gratitude].

Like this? Read about The Macallan Rare Cask

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