The Macallan is a Scotch whiskey distillery best known for two things: pretty much all sherry-aged whiskey all the time, and bottling very expensive old whiskeys. For example, the distillery recently released its oldest whiskey to date, 81-year-old “The Reach,” for $125,000 a bottle.
It’s fun to read about these ultra-mature and inaccessible whiskeys to most others, but there’s something to be said for actually being able to try the whiskey you’re talking about. Macallan’s new Distil Your World New York Edition appeared to be a limited edition but collectible whiskey at first glance, priced at $4,300 with only 1,000 bottles available. But look around online and you’ll find it’s going to quadruple, with prices hovering around $20,000. So what gives?
New York is the second bottle in The Macallan’s Distil Your World series (the first was London). The goal of this new whiskey is to capture the spirit of New York, but how do you actually do that in liquid form? Well, a bit of imagination and creative license from whiskey makers is involved, and luckily for The Macallan, the distillery has a decade-long relationship with Spain’s famous Michelin-starred chefs, the Roca Brothers.
Joan Roca and Macallan whiskey maker Polly Logan traveled to New York to fill all their sensory receptacles with the smells, tastes and sights of this iconic city. They caught up with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, street artist Lady Pink and clothing designer Zero Waste Daniel, to soak up the flavor of New York. Logan said she was inspired by street foods like “sugary candy, waffles, crunchy peanuts, chocolate and pecans.” Personally I would go with pizza and halal chicken and white sauce, but that might not give good whiskey notes. Other aspects of the city that inspired them were the smells of hot nut carts and pretzel vendors, and the minerality of the streets after a rain.
Logan then selected six barrels to blend this whisky, both European and American sherry-seasoned oak (age range not disclosed), based on the specific notes that inspired her and Roca. . The color, a dark copper, is described as “the dawn of the city”. On the nose, there is indeed apple, which was an obvious note, accompanied by an explosion of citrus fruits. The palate is very recognizably Macallan, with the sherry influence bringing out flavors of dark chocolate, a bit of burnt orange, a bit of cherry syrup and just a touch of spice on the finish. The bottle comes with a few extra bells and whistles, housed in a white box with an aerial map of New York engraved on it, and a book detailing the inspirations behind the whiskey via some really great photography. There is also a documentary you can watch about whiskey on YouTube.
You’ll need to have very deep pockets to taste whiskey for yourself, something that appeals to well-heeled whiskey collectors, but ranges from annoying to infuriating to the average whiskey drinker. There is no point in arguing over whether whiskey is worth a particular price, because everything is subjective and circular – the product is limited, the consumer covets, the product becomes more limited and more expensive, the consumer covets harder, repeat . The Distil Your World New York Whiskey would be a great find at its suggested retail price, but whether or not $20,000 is really worth it really depends on what that amount of money means to you. Plus, there’s always that bottle of Double Cask 15 you can drink instead.
Buy now: $18,999.99
What our score means
- 100: It’s worth exchanging your firstborn for
- 95 – 99 At the Pantheon: A trophy for the firm
- 90 – 94 Great: An enthusiastic wink from friends when you pour them a drink
- 85 – 89 Very Good: Delicious enough to buy, but not special enough to seek aftermarket
- 80 – 84 Good: More of your everyday drinker, strong and reliable
- Below 80 It’s OK: Honestly, we probably won’t waste your time and ours with this.
Every week, Jonah Flicker tastes the hottest and most interesting whiskeys in the world. Check back every Friday for its latest review.