Copper, the unsung hero of whisky, celebrated in new Macallan release


  • Living
  • Thursday, 29 Sep 2022

The Macallan M Copper celebrates the curiously small copper stills that are so important to the brand’s spirit. – Photo: Nick Knight for The Macallan

Copper is the unsung hero of whisky-making. More often than not, casks and maturation tends to be the main topic when people talk about single malt Scotch, and understandably so, as a huge part of the malt whisky’s flavour comes from the cask.

However, the new-make spirit that goes into the cask is just as important as the cask itself. And where does that spirit come from? The copper stills, of course.

But why is Scotch malt whisky made in stills that are made with copper and not other metals? Well, there are a number of reasons.

First of all, copper is a metal that is relatively easy to work with, easy to mould and shape into a still. Secondly, copper is an excellent conductor of heat, which makes it ideal for the distillation process. And thirdly, copper is also resistant to corrosion.

But most importantly for whisky making, distilling malt whisky with copper also creates chemical reactions that will help to remove highly volatile sulphuric compounds from the spirit, and also help to form esters that can influence the flavour of the spirit as well, sometimes giving it more fruity notes.

Now, the size and shape of the copper stills are also hugely important, and there is no better example of just how significant that is to making quality spirit than at The Macallan distillery.

The Macallan M Copper is bottled in a handcrafted Lalique copper-coloured crystal decanter that represents the stillsThe Macallan M Copper is bottled in a handcrafted Lalique copper-coloured crystal decanter that represents the stillsThe Macallan’s ‘Curiously Small Spirit Stills’ have been one of the defining features of its distillation process since it was founded in 1824. Their distinctive shape and size help to concentrate the new-make spirit, creating the rich, robust character that is so quintessentially part of the Macallan’s DNA.

These stills also represent a pivotal moment in whisky-making history. While other distilleries moved to larger, higher production copper stills to boost volume, The Macallan kept its small stills in order to focus on making spirits of exceptional quality instead.

To pay tribute to these unique copper stills, the brand recently launched The Macallan M Copper 2022 Release, which is part of the new Macallan M Collection.

Bottled in a handcrafted Lalique copper-coloured crystal decanter that represents the stills, M Copper has a natural colour of spun gold, and is a vibrant and elegant whisky that brings the flavours created in the stills to the fore. It has a buttery, viscous mouth coating and is bursting in fruitiness with a hint of sweet malty flavour.

On the nose, you get fruity notes of sweet bananas, pears and white peaches, as well as malty biscuit, marshmallows and vanilla with a hint of citrus lemon. The creamy, mouth-coating palate brings forth the rich fruity notes of the spirit, with pear drops, caramelised banana and sherbet, and a long, smooth toasted oak finish.

The Macallan M Collection is a range of limited release single malt whiskies which celebrates the brand’s acclaimed ‘Six Pillars’ – Natural Colour, Mastery, The Estate, Exceptional Oak Casks, Sherry Seasoning and Curiously Small Spirit Stills – which form the foundations for the distillery’s distinctive and exceptional whiskies.

In order to reflect the Six Pillars, The Macallan M Collection has released expressions that come in an array of colours that embody these unique attributes.

The first three expressions comprise the 2022 editions of the previously released M and M Black, and the brand new M Copper.

The Macallan M Collection – Photo: Nick Knight for The MacallanThe Macallan M Collection – Photo: Nick Knight for The Macallan

Visually representing the Six Pillars, the M Collection’s decanters are beautiful masterpieces created in collaboration with renowned creative director, Fabien Baron and French crystal maker Lalique.

“It is an honour to work with The Macallan - our long-standing partner for 16 years - to realise this exquisite collection and showcase our shared sense of mastery, craftsmanship and heritage,”says Silvio Denz, Chairman and CEO of Lalique in a press release.

“The decanters are completely unique in the world of decanters, very difficult to produce because of their shape. Lalique’s masters of crystal have relished applying their most complex skills to bring Fabien Baron’s creative vision to life.”

The Macallan has also worked with renowned luxury fashion photographer and creative visionary Nick Knight, to create a series of photography and film in his abstract and expressionistic style.

Knight’s imagery captures the collection in blocks of ice as an homage to The Macallan’s intrinsic connection to nature and the River Spey which runs through The Macallan Estate.

To learn more about the M Collection, visit The Macallan website.

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