The spirits industry is one that thrives on a melting pot of brands that stand for tradition, brands that are pioneers in their field and for the most longstanding and successful companies, brands whose portfolios offer a delicate balance of both.
When it comes to whisky in particular, The Macallan is without a doubt the leader in what it means to be at the forefront of innovation while truly staying rooted in tradition.
The Macallan Edition Series, a limited-edition collection that comes out every year, is a shining example of this — each Edition seeks to break tradition through the use of distinctive casks in partnership with experts across varying fields to create a whisky that's the product of different backgrounds, voices and experiences, all while staying true to the standards of a Macallan whisky.
These somewhat experimental whiskies are always unique, and shine a light on individual elements of The Macallan and its process of creation.
The newest iteration of the series, Edition No. 5, might be the most out-of-the-box yet.
The whisky itself is sweet, characterized by toffee, caramel and pear flavors with hints of nutmeg and ginger.
When you nose it, its 48.5 percent ABV comes through strong, but the long, sweet finish of the spirit ends up being deceptively smooth.
What really sets Edition No. 5 apart is that it was created around the element of color -- just take a look at the bottle's shock-worthy purple label that was created in partnership with Pantone Color Institute.
The new color from Pantone, aptly dubbed 'The Macallan Edition Purple', is unexpectedly bold while still managing to feel right and on-brand -- much like the Edition No. 5 spirit itself.
Sarah Burgess, Whisky Maker for The Macallan, wanted to make color the focal point of this iteration of the Macallan Edition Series, explaining the importance of color when it comes to understanding a whisky and its history:
"The sensory experience starts with the color. You make judgement on what you think the whisky is going to be like based on the visual representation. For this reason, it is important for the color to be inviting and encouraging. It must also reflect the range and look like it belongs as part of the family.
Edition No. 5 is a celebration of The Macallan and our 100 percent natural color. As one of the only whiskies to use 100 percent natural color, The Macallan exceptional whiskies are characterized from their time spent in the very best casks. As the utmost experts of color, the Pantone Color Institute is the perfect partner to highlight natural color. Despite being from different industries, [Vice President of Pantone] Laurie [Pressman] and I connected immediately. Both color and whisky involve an art and science element, so we found many synergies throughout this partnership. It was a true collaboration."
Pressman echoed the sentiment of synergy between the two brands, and the unique opportunity it offered for the two to come together in a way that had previously never been explored:
"We had never worked with a spirits brand in this way so we were extremely excited to be approached by The Macallan to work on this kind of project. Right away, we knew that a brand that was approaching us in this way was forward-thinking and innovative which of course made this idea even more interesting."
Choosing the color for Edition No. 5 wasn’t as simple as looking at a swatch and choosing the most appealing one — as expected from both The Macallan and Pantone, the process was equal parts complex as it was collaborative and purposeful, as Pressman explained:
"During my visit to the distillery, I was already thinking the purple family would be the right direction to take, however, we also felt it was important to explore other color options with the team so we could really dig in to all of the different color meanings and how they could be used to convey a brand message. The other colors included a more neutral taupe like shade, a vibrant teal blue and a fresh, though not overwhelming yellow green.
We wanted to select a color that would not only convey the complexity of the whisky but also could convey the uniqueness of what The Macallan had to offer. A blend of blue and red, the purples are the rainbow’s most complex color. It is a color family known for being creative, non-conforming, intriguing and innovative and at the same time, a color family known for prestige and heritage. A unique combination of qualities that all spoke to The Macallan whisky and certainly to Edition No. 5. We specifically opted for a red-based purple as the reds bring the passion and excitement to purple – something we felt was important. And the red-based purples also make for a more magnetizing appearance and create greater dramatic impact – something we thought would be especially important for standing out. And lastly, we loved the idea that this would be unexpected– a feature that spoke to the taste of Edition No. 5 being unexpected."
And though this might be the first Macallan whisky that was created from start to finish by two women, the role of women in whisky isn't something that should be viewed as a rarity, Burgess explained:
"Women have been involved and influential in whisky since the 1800s. The Robertson sisters (Elspeth, Agnes and Ethel) actually inherited the Scotch whisky interests founded and developed by their grandfather and father and created The Edrington Group, The Macallan’s parent company.By creating this group, it helped the sisters keep up the welfare of its employees and tradition of supporting charitable causes in Scotland. They also established The Robertson Trust in 1961, which is Scotland’s largest independent charitable trust, which has donated over £152 million to charities in Scotland.The whisky industry, although considered male dominant, is in fact an accepting environment and whilst it's great to acknowledge the accomplishments of women, it’s not a gender bias industry."
"Whilst whisky can seem like a male dominant industry, it is actually one that rewards creativity, innovation and bold choices, no matter gender."
Sláinte to that!