If lockdown gave us one thing, it was a heightened appreciation for an early evening drink. (12.01pm counts as 'early evening', right?)
It’s not that we’re advocating drinking as a coping mechanism… but when you’ve juggled working from home with homeschooling two kids, then sometimes only a whisky will do.
And after a particularly hard day, only The Macallan Double Cask hits the spot.
Introduced in 2016, the Double Cask combines sherry-seasoned casks from both American and European oak.
The first release was the 12 Years Old. But as of this month, there are now two newer – also, older – versions: Double Cask 15 Years Old and Double Cask 18 Years Old.
Double Cask is an increasingly rare story of America playing nicely with others. You take new American oak from the forests of Ohio, Missouri and Kentucky and combine them with European oak from the French Pyrenees.
Both are then transported to Spain, where they’re hand crafted into casks and filled with sherry.
Double Cask is an increasingly rare story of America playing nicely with others
Once seasoned, the casks are shipped to The Macallan Estate on Speyside where they are filled with new-make spirit.
Following years in the barrel, The Macallan’s Whisky Mastery Team then selects the best balance from both to create Double Cask.
American oak provides the sweet, delicate flavours of vanilla, while the European oak delivers a subtle and unmistakable spiciness.
This is the kind of global collaboration that needs to be celebrated in this day and age.
Indeed, for these new expressions, The Macallan employed world-famous photographer Steve McCurry to help with exactly that.
McCurry travelled across two continents and multiple countries to track the wood journey that underpins Double Cask.
We caught up with him over a dram or two…
What surprised you the most while undertaking this project?
Much of today's manufacturing is automated, so I was surprised by the more traditional way of cask-making at the Tevasa Cooperage in Spain.
The craftsmanship which depends on the individual artisan's skill was a demonstration of the care taken to fashion each cask. In some ways, each one is a work of art informed by a rich tradition.
I noticed that each worker demonstrated a sense of pride and accomplishment as each cask was completed.
I’m really proud of this collaboration with The Macallan, which has mastered the art of combining sustainability and tradition.
Who was the most interesting character you shot – and why?
It was a pleasure to meet and photograph Graham Stirk, the architect of The Macallan’s new distillery, which blends harmoniously and organically into the rolling hills in that part of Scotland. Like the whiskies made here, it combines both innovative aspects and the respect for traditions.
I’ve since been lucky enough to be invited to a tasting session at The Macallan with him.
What’s your favourite photograph from the series – and why?
There is one outstanding moment, I’ll never forget, was when one cooper exposed the casks to flames. The fire and the smoke made for a really dramatic image.
Were you a fan of whisky before the project?
I always have a good whisky, like The Macallan, at home – for friends and family when they come to visit.
Whisky Maker’s Notes: The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old
Colour: Golden butterscotch.
Aroma: Dried fruits, toffee and vanilla with smooth oak and baked apple balanced with notes of honey and chocolate.
Palate: Sweet raisin and sultana builds with hints of vanilla, wood spice and citrus.
Finish: Warm ginger turning to caramel and citrus with a creamy mouth feel.
Whisky Maker’s Notes: The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old
Colour: Amber honey.
Aroma: Dried fruits, ginger and toffee with rich orange and hints of clove with nutmeg.
Palate: Rich raisin and sultana with notes of caramel, vanilla and ginger balanced by wood spice and zesty citrus.
Finish: Warm oak spice with ginger turning to sweet orange.
The Macallan Double Cask 15 Years Old has an RRP of £100 and The Macallan Double Cask 18 Years Old has an RRP of £250.
They are available from specialist retailers such as The Whisky Exchange, Master of Malt and The Whisky Shop. For further information visit themacallan.com