Meet Kirsteen Campbell, Master Whisky Maker at The Macallan, and the first woman to hold that title in our 200-year history.
A native of Thurso in the Highlands, she possesses remarkable olfactory skills, and with a forensic focus that combines artistry and science, she’s followed her nose to reach the peak of her profession, honing her skills, knowledge and craft across the entire process, from cask lay-down and maturation to bottling and tasting, all the while ensuring the quality and consistency of The Macallan’s single malts.
Introducing The Reach
Heading up The Macallan’s Whisky Mastery Team since 2019, she’s overseen a range of notable releases, but none can compare to the complexity of flavours contained in the single sherry-seasoned oak cask that contained The Macallan’s oldest-ever release, the 81-year-old The Reach.
Eighty-one years. That takes us back to the the challenging times of more than eight decades ago, when The Macallan’s remarkable distillery workers laid down for a future generation a peerless spirit that has matured across the decades to exemplify the spirits of endeavour, patience and expertise in achieving perfection. As such, The Reach is a long-gestated inspiration, an eloquent expression of excellence.
Meet the chairman of the board
A bronze sculpture of three hands cradles The Reach in its exquisite decanter. One of those hands belongs to Allan Shiach, our chairman from 1979 to 1997. Allan was instrumental in establishing The Macallan as a world-famous single malt by focusing on our high-quality aged casks, and launching our brand story to a broader public.
Indeed, you could say the distillery is something of a family affair for Allan, who is the grandchild of Dr Samuel Allan Shiach, who led the company from 1938 to 1947 – at the time The Reach was first conceived. He is also the great-grandson to Roderick Kemp, whose family ran The Macallan from 1892 to 1996, and who brought an understanding of wine and sherry that add further distinction to our single malts.
“The Reach is extremely special to me,” says Allan, “as it captures a pivotal moment in time for The Macallan. Not only is this remarkable whisky a nod to the past, but a step towards a hopeful future.”
The sculptor’s story
Sculptor Saskia Robinson is from the Glasgow School of Art, and their work draws on Hellenistic sculpture, the Italian Renaissance and the Scottish Enlightenment. Saskia’s work for The Reach fuses the story of the whisky itself with the history of The Macallan in a remarkable sculpture of three hands, symbolising the three main characters in the story.
One hand commemorates the Distillery workers of 1940 who carefully laid the whisky down to mature, another is the hand of Allan Shiach, whose grandfather ran our distillery in the 1940s when this spirit was laid to rest in its cask; and the third hand is the Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen’s, the ultimate authority who decided that now, at last, was the time to release this exquisite whisky.
Those three hands cradle the distinctive bottle to which The Reach has been decanted from that single cask of sherry-seasoned oak filled in the dark days of 1940.
Transformed through 81 years of slumber, it pours as a rich auburn whisky with dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon, plum, leather, pink grapefruit, and resinous notes on the nose. On the palate, it resonates with hints of treacle toffee, crystallised ginger, nutmeg, roasted pineapple, pecans and woodsmoke, while the finish is intensely sweet and smoky.
As such, it’s a whole gallery of sensations, as befits what is a work of art 81 years in the making. On display at The Macallan Estate Boutique and with a limited number of bottles on sale from selected luxury specialists.
To find out more about The Reach, go to themacallan.com