The Restaurant, Flask, And Photography Worthy of The Macallan Single Malt Scotch Whisky
The Speyside distillery is famous for taking only the finest cut of spirit for its whisky. It’s a philosophy that extends to its artistic partnerships as well.
In our editorial series The Macallan Rare Cask Society—sponsored by The Macallan Rare Cask—we will be looking at the qualities and characteristics that define Scotch whisky. Click here for more of our Rare Cask Society.
Why was a master photographer recruited to work with one of the most successful liquor brands on the planet? Because The Macallan, the 190-year old Scotch whisky maker, knows there’s more to making spirits than just quality farmland and equipment. By partnering with people like Mario Testino, who has shot covers for Vogue and Vanity Fair, The Macallan is able to extend its reputation into new corners of the globe.
Testino was commissioned to create a unique piece of work inspired by the six pillars that define The Macallan. The master artist traveled to Beijing and shot in a former palace not far from the Forbidden City. The resulting photographs are a celebration, bringing to life the peerless spirit embodied by The Macallan. As Testino explains, he decided to interpret each of the pillars via six unique characters. “When I book somebody, I have an idea of how I want them to look,” Testino explained of the shoot. “And until they look within that world, I don't stop. I will do the casting myself and then I will go to the set and receive the hair, the make up, the styling, the jewels, every detail about the person. So I think that is very important to communicate clearly to the person who their character is and what they are performing just so they feel the right persona.”
Testino’s images were part of The Macallan's Masters of Photography series in which The Macallan invited photographers from all over the world to collaborate on unique bottle designs and box sets of whisky while exploring the history and beauty of The Macallan through pictures. Annie Leibovitz, one of the best-known photographers in the world, was commissioned to shoot a creative campaign for the spirit featuring Scottish actor Kevin McKidd. The resulting product included four single-cask variants along with finished pictures of McKidd enjoying a glass of The Macallan. In addition to Leibovitz, The Macallan’s Masters of Photography also included documentarian Elliott Erwitt, who created a book featuring 158 images of his trip around Scotland; Albert Watson, who captured the story of The Macallan’s historic Spanish sherry oak casks; and Polaroid photographs of The Macallan estate taken by the photographer known as Rankin.
The Macallan collaborations have even extended past photographers to additional masters of their craft focused on innovation. The company recently partnered with Oakley to create a one-of-a-kind single malt Scotch flask. The flask included a rubberized bottom for a non-slip grip and a small rectangular air vent on the side of the funnel to allow for ventilation. Overall, the final product was a sleek and modern take on an old staple.
The company continued its long history of working with master chefs to partner with El Celler de Can Roca, one of the best restaurants in the world, to create a unique dining experience. The project featured exclusively designed dishes inspired by the character of The Macallan and broke down classic perceptions of food-and-drink pairings to explore a new world of flavors. Best of all: proceeds for the meal went to charity.
The Macallan has developed a reputation as a drink of sophistication and substance––one enjoyed by consumers with distinguished taste. Most of that can be credited to the whisky-making process: the company collects only 16 percent of the spirit during distillation—known as the “the cut”—ensuring that customers get the full-bodied richness in ever bottle of The Macallan.
The Macallan represents more than just fine whisky. It represents a lifestyle of a person set on mastering their craft. In fact, that’s the driving factor behind these collaboration projects: to pair the best Scotch whisky in the world with the masters in food, design, and art. By partnering with other “masters” that share The Macallan’s principles, drive, and instinct, The Macallan is helping to bring their “finest cut” philosophy far beyond the barrel.