Image
The Macallan Distillery

A short guide to the Macallan Archival Series

Explore the exclusive Macallan Archival Series, a celebration of history, artistry, and the craft of whisky making.

The Macallan is considered by many enthusiasts and investors to be the ultimate collectible single malt whisky. Over the years this much-loved brand has released a steady stream of limited-edition single malts that have generated huge interest, both upon release and on the secondary market.

The Origins of The Macallan Archival Series

Launched in 2015, the Archival Series is Macallan’s most high-profile limited-edition release in recent years. This original 24-part series, which reached its seventh iteration, or ‘Folio’ in 2023, sees the release of a series of super-premium NAS single malts tell the story of Macallan’s transformation from a remote farmstead on the River Spey to a whisky of global renown. Presented in an elegant book-shaped tin box, each features a unique label that recreates the seminal Macallan advertising campaigns from the 1970s, 80s and 90s. It was these inventive campaigns, conceived by acclaimed ad agency Holmes Knight Ritchie, that took The Macallan name to a wider audience for the first time.

The Macallan’s present-day reputation as a producer of one of the world’s finest single malt somewhat obscures the Macallan Distillery’s history as a producer of malt for blending, most notably for The Famous Grouse. It was in 1966 that The Macallan decided to take control of its own destiny, beginning to reserve a proportion of casks for its own official single malt bottlings for the first time.

The Artistic Legacy Behind The Macallan's Advertisements

When, a decade later, it was time to tell the world about the content of those casks, Macallan commissioned the renowned art director David Holmes to create an elegant brochure to send out to potential distributors.

This was a brave new world of Scotch whisky, and single malts as a whisky category, and one of the most important functions of this brochure was to educate people about what single malt whiskies were.

Working with copywriter Nick Salaman, David Holmes succeeded in communicating The Macallan’s message with an individuality and intelligence that helped to establish the company as Scotland’s leading single malt brand.

Between the years of 1980 and 1994, Holmes and Salaman created hundreds of advertisements for The Macallan. The first ad appeared in The Times on 27 March, 1980. A small, black-and-white ad, sharply written and supported by illustrations from the original brochure, it would go on to inspire a highly successful campaign that The Macallan Archival Series commemorates.

Each of the single malts in the Archival Series, typically released in volumes of 2,000-2,500 bottles, is presented in a book-style tin box and includes a USB stick with distillery photographs from The Macallan advertisement archives. These limited-edition whisky presentation packages represent a hugely attractive prospect for the single malt collector or investor.

The first three Archival Series releases, produced in volumes of just 2,000 bottles, were made available exclusively from the Macallan Distillery itself. Subsequent releases were sold via ballot and attracted huge publicity from whisky enthusiasts across the globe.

Exclusive Releases: The Archival Series Folios

Released in 2015, Folio 1 was the first release in the Archival Series. It references the first advertisement of David Holmes’s long-running campaign, which explained how the name Colum (from Columba) lay behind the distillery name. While the retail price for Folio 1 was a relatively modest £199, the prices it has subsequently attracted on the secondary market give a clear indication of the value collectors have placed on the series: its highest auction price to date is £9,100.

The following year, Folio 2 was released, featuring the distinctive watercolour art of Holmes. also carrying a retail price of £199. Its highest price at auction to date is £5,500. Folio 3, released in 2018, features a cartoon of children rolling snowballs and references a favourite Macallan concept that whisky is best made in cold weather. It carried the same retail price as Folios 1 and 2, and achieved an auction price of £4,200 in February 2021. Released the following year, Folio 4 features the musical notation of a strathspey by James Scott Skinner, which appeared in a ground-breaking advert in The Times. This was the first edition in the Archival Series to be sold through ballot and attracted a bid of £3,450 on the secondary market in March 2021.

Released in 2020, Folio 5, which pays tribute to a successful advertisement featuring the tale of a deerstalker, or ‘Luggy Bonnet’, was also sold through ballot. With a retail price of £250, its highest recorded auction price to date is £1,300, achieved in March 2021. Next came Folio 6, celebrating a witty advertisement that featured ‘The Chairman’ (former Macallan CEO Allan Shiach) as a Scotsman dancing the Highland fling over a pen and brush (symbolising the creative talents of David Holmes and Nick Salaman). Carrying a retail price of £250, Folio 6 achieved an auction price of £1,350 in March 2021.

The most recent Archival Series release, in 2023, was Folio 7. It features the story of ‘The Boffins Baffled’, a group of scientists who were rendered nonplussed when asked to determine why The Macallan was so special – but still saw fit to remove several barrels of the famed single malt for ‘testing at the lab’.

The Future of The Macallan Archival Series

Always told with wit and inventiveness, the advertisements which form the inspiration for the Archival Series brought the concept of fine single malt whisky to many members of the whisky-buying public for the first time. With 17 more releases yet to come, plenty of opportunities remain for enthusiasts and investors to get their hands on one of these precious liquid symbols of The Macallan’s history.

 

Macallan Archival Series Folio One
HED72337 / 70cl / 43%
£16,000.00
The Macallan distillery was founded in 1824 in Craigellachie, Moray. Famous for their use of ex-Sherry casks, Macallan has become one of the world`s most sought-after single malts in recent years.
Macallan Archival Series Folio Two
HED69704 / 70cl / 43%
£9,200.00
Released as an exclusive offering at the distillery in 2017, this vintage-inspired bottle from The Macallan forms part of the Archival Series, reviving select vintage advertising campaigns from the distillery`s history. The second instalment in this series underwent a 12-year maturation in sherry casks and was bottled at 43% ABV. On the nose, expect aromas of pepper, coffee, vanilla, orange and sherry. The palate combines layers of honey, toffee, and marmalade, complemented by notes of figs and walnuts.
Macallan Archival Series Folio Four
HED45126 / 70cl / 43%
£6,500.00
The `Archival Series` by Macallan is a limited-edition release, originally distributed through a ballot system, and designed to revive the vintage advertising aesthetics of The Macallan. Unveiled in 2019, `Folio 4` stands as the 4th instalment in the Archival Series, packaged in a tin book style along with a hardback book. The front illustration showcases a Strathspey composed by James Scott Skinner. Expect distinctive notes of plum sauce, toffee, apple, lemongrass, and malt.
Macallan Archival Series Folio Seven
HED21550 / 70cl / 43%
£1,190.00
The seventh instalment in The Macallan Archival Series delves into the iconic 1986 advertising campaign, `The Boffins Baffled.` This narrative unfolds when Macallan Directors invited scientists to unravel the mystery behind the uniqueness of The Macallan, yet they were left utterly perplexed. No scientific explanation could elucidate the magic within the casks, prompting the Boffins to take additional whisky back to the laboratory in the pursuit of `research.` The Number 7 has undergone maturation in sherry seasoned oak casks.
Image
Speyside landscape

Interested in Macallan?

Explore the full Macallan range now.