https://static.theceomagazine.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/28175156/Kirsteen1200x800-410x330.png The Macallan’s Six Pillars: tradition and innovation in a single malt
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How this Master Whisky Maker fuses tradition and innovation in a single malt

Natural Colour, Mastery, Curiously Small Stills, The Estate, Exceptional Oak Casks and Sherry Wine: the names of The Macallan’s Six Pillars evoke a sense of place and mystery befitting this legendary distillery.

"The Six Pillars are the foundation stones that have illuminated the path to our unique whisky and act as a prism into the world of The Macallan" is how The Macallan’s Master Whisky Maker, Kirsteen Campbell, explains it to The CEO Magazine.

Hailing from Thurso, a windswept coastal town at the tip of Scotland, the smells of fermentation and distillation were the perfume of her childhood.

But her destiny – to become the Speyside whisky house’s first-ever Master Whisky Maker – was written upon graduation; when a role in a spirits laboratory uncovered her remarkable sense of smell. "That discovery set my career path for the future," she reveals.

Joining Edrington, The Macallan’s parent company, as a Whisky Quality Technologist in 2007, Campbell became Master Blender for Cutty Sark, before assuming the same role for The Famous Grouse and the Naked Grouse. She arrived at The Macallan in 2019.

Image: Nick Knight

Telling a story

It seems only natural that the girl from the Scottish Highlands is overseeing the bottling of these six unique attributes into a range of limited-release, single malt whiskies under the umbrella of The Macallan M Collection.

"The Macallan M Collection gives us the opportunity to clearly and emotively tell the story of the six pillars that reflect the heritage, craftsmanship and uncompromising excellence that has distinguished our single malt for almost 200 years," Campbell explains.

"The collection features an array of colors embodying our unique attributes and reflects the emotions which drive the brand."

"We are proud to have crafted the first three releases in the collection," she enthuses. "M showcases The Macallan’s Natural Colour, M Black focuses on our Mastery and M Copper highlights the Distillery’s Curiously Small Spirit Stills, which remain key to crafting our precious spirit to this day."

Bottled in Lalique crystal decanters, the presentation for each bottle is a visual masterpiece and comes with a price tag to match, starting at US$6,750. The collection has been designed with keen single malt whisky connoisseurs in mind – "collectors who have a high level of knowledge, experience and appreciation for whisky and The Macallan", Campbell points out.

Image: Nick Knight

Crafted to be enjoyed

As part of the campaign around the release of The M Collection, the distillery collaborated with Nick Knight, the renowned luxury fashion photographer whom Campbell describes as "one of the world’s most influential and visionary image makers".

"The dedication he shows to his craft and pushing the boundaries of creativity brought a bold and dynamic style to The M Collection," she says.

And while Campbell acknowledges the ever-increasing interest in rare and collectable whiskies as an investment of passion, she says that The M Collection, as with other rare single malt whiskies, has been crafted to be enjoyed.

"M, in particular, is the embodiment of our Natural Colour, so I would recommend pouring a serve slowly over a large, transparent cube of fresh ice and serving it in a clear rocks glass, so that the color can be the hero of the serve," she explains.

"The Macallan M Collection gives us the opportunity to clearly and emotively tell the story of the six pillars that reflect the heritage, craftsmanship and uncompromising excellence that has distinguished our single malt for almost 200 years."

For Campbell, becoming one of the custodians of The Macallan is a career pinnacle. "I feel very honored to be entrusted with creating this remarkable single malt whisky with The Macallan Whisky Mastery Team," she says.

"The Macallan has been recognized for its outstanding quality above all else. Today, this remains the foundation for the worldwide recognition, so it is our responsibility to build on the close to 200 years of history of the brand and to continue the legacy."

Campbell hints that there’s plenty more to come, as well.

"I have been privileged to be involved in some incredible projects and I am very much looking forward to continuing to deliver our exciting future projects and innovations," she says.

THE THREE HERO PILLARS, EXPLAINED

NATURAL COLOUR: All color in The Macallan whiskies, bottled by the distillery, is natural. Only the interaction of the ‘new make’ spirit with the oak of the maturation casks delivers the rich and natural diversity of color throughout the range, from light oak through to darkest mahogany.

MASTERY: The Macallan carefully select the finest quality spirit from its stills to ensure it creates the best single malt whisky. This finest cut ensures it produces its signature viscous mouth-feel and fruity aroma and flavor. This small portion, or ‘cut’ is incredibly selective and one of the finest in the industry.

CURIOUSLY SMALL SPIRIT STILLS: The Macallan’s Curiously Small Stills are amongst the smallest on Speyside. Their unique size and shape give the spirit maximum contact with the copper, helping to concentrate the ‘new make’ spirit and provide the rich, fruity, full-bodied flavors characteristic of The Macallan. There are 24 of these spirit stills, crafted from copper, each holding an initial ‘charge’ of 3,900 liters.

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