‘Macallan’ is most likely derived from two Gaelic words, ‘MAGH’ meaning a fertile piece of ground and ‘ELLAN’, meaning ‘of St Fillan’, an Irish born monk who travelled widely in Scotland spreading Christianity during the eighth century.
For centuries, farmers in the area of Easter Elchies House have been distilling whisky in the winter from barley they have grown on their own land. At the nearby ford across the river Spey, cattlemen (‘drovers’) taking their cattle to the markets in the south would stop to rest and take refreshment before crossing the river. Their refreshment would have included whisky distilled on the local farms.
After 1814, travelers would have crossed the river Spey via the famous bridge, designed by the great Thomas Telford, downstream from The Macallan.
The common thread running through the history of The Macallan is the obsession with quality, which was established from the start by the founder of the distillery, Alexander Reid. In 1824, Reid, a local farmer, acquired a licence to distil whisky legally at Easter Elchies and The Macallan was born.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the owners of The Macallan were all local people, with a deep attachment to the countryside, to the produce of these lands and to the people living there. Almost 70 years after the distillery was first established, The Macallan was bought by Roderick Kemp. In the years following 1892, he set about establishing the Macallan’s reputation for outstanding quality across a wider market. As a result, throughout the first half of the twentieth century, The Macallan witnessed increasing sales and a major expansion of the distillery took place between 1951 and 1963.
In 1999, The Edrington Group, which for many years had close ties with The Macallan, buys a majority shareholding.
The new millennium has witnessed great success for The Macallan. In 2002, The Macallan Fine & Rare collection was launched, winning accolades and praise from experts and connoisseurs alike. In 2004, The Macallan received its sixth Queen’s Award for Enterprise and launched The Macallan Fine Oak to worldwide critical acclaim. In 2005, a single bottle of The Macallan Fine & Rare 1926 achieved the world record price of £36,000 at auction. In 2006, The Macallan has launched a ‘Mastery of Spirit & Crystal’ with The Macallan 50 Years Old in Lalique and completed the final stage of Easter Elchies House refurbishment with on-site accommodation and opened the ‘Story of Wood’ at The Macallan Distillery in Warehouse 7.