Yesterday Macallan invited a selection of important whisky people to Easter Elchies for a special presentation. It turned out to be big news indeed.
Beginning this autumn in the UK market, the new 1824 Series will be introduced, three no-age-statement 100% sherry cask expressions named after their respective colours: Gold, Sienna and Ruby. They will replace the 10 to 15 year old Sherry Oak and Fine Oak expressions. The older expressions like the flagship 18 yo Sherry Oak will supposedly remain on the shelves.
What does this mean? Well, the most important aspect definitely is the complete removal of age statement bottlings from the lower end of the product range which is a thing unheard of in the Scotch single malt market. Many distilleries have affordable NAS bottles in their range, but there is always at least one entry level expression with an age statement, the bread and butter bottle, so to speak.
This is a bold move, and it remains to be seen, if it will be successful. Back in 2008 Macallan launched the NAS 1824 Collection in the travel retail market (am I the only one to sense a potential for major confusion among casual buyers here?), and there were reports about those bottles having a hard time getting bought. Macallan has been promoting age statement and vintage bottles for decades, and they are one of the distilleries where there is a noticeable correlation between age and quality. So I would not be surprised if some faithful long-time customers suddenly feel lost when the price will be the only indication of where an expression is located within the product range.
Another interesting aspect is the possibly approaching death of the Macallan Fine Oak range. It has never really caught on since it was introduded in 2004. The introduction of bourbon cask maturation felt like a sacrilege to many lovers of the style that has made Macallan a leading single malt brand. So we actually may witness the beginning of the end of that diversion from the Proper Path here.
As for the reason why the product range will be so drastically changed, optimization of supply and demand is always a solid guess. Logically I will refrain from any speculation about quality or bang-for-the-buck potential until I have tasted the range.
By the way, the RRP for the new Macallan Gold will be £35.99. The 10 yo Sherry and Fine Oak currently sell for about £30 in the UK.