*notcot in food+drink , 17:40

Sampling The Macallan- 09.29.10

warehouseMAIN.jpg SO! As you probably know by now, The Macallan has me out in scotland, exploring and learning and playing with all things scotch. In fact, they’ve kept me so excitedly busy, it’s been hard to find enough time to process and post! Or even figure out where to start… so here’s how its going to go, i’ll share the most unique bits as i can! And one of the most exciting places to start is ~ SAMPLING!

With so many thousands of casks in so many warehouses with all these slight variations in wood, in atmosphere, in unexplained magical natural occurrences that may make even casks from the same batch differ in flavor, colors, and more, the only way to find and create the perfect single malt is through sampling, tasting, and keeping an eye on each cask as the whisky within matures over time (so anywhere from 5 years to decades?)… on amazingly awesome experiences, we got to go along with the Macallan boys (Thanks, Jim and Gary, and apologies for the times i accidentally squirted whisky on you!) and actually get our hands dirty and help do the sampling! From drilling holes, pumping out samples, filling vials, (maybe sneaking a taste here and there) and plugging the hole! See the process we experienced in the warehouse on the next page!

p.s. The picture above? Can you believe that is the Macallan 1964 that is filling the Lalique Cire Perdue - This 1946 cask became 64 years old in January 2010!

p.p.s. i can’t even begin to tell you how incredible these warehouses smell.

Spread throughout the grounds are warehouses… full of slumbering casks of whisky… warehouse0.jpg

warehouse0a.jpg

I love that they have “Explosive Atmosphere” signage… warehouse0b.jpg

All casks are lined up pretty precisely by hand (and they are ridiculously heavy as you can imagine!) ~ and each row and casks has a barcode… warehouse1.jpg

When it comes to sampling, they follow a list to see which casks need to be sampled ~ so its a matter of finding the right numbered cask ~ can you believe before the barcodes, the old school guys could just KNOW which warehouse, which aisle, etc to find them in??? warehouse2.jpg

Armed with pre-labeled bottles to fill… warehouse3.jpg

… and a bucket of tools… drill, siphon, hammer, and plugs… warehouse4.jpg

You wander the aisles… warehouse5.jpg

You track down the cask… warehouse6.jpg

And then you drill a hole! warehouse6a.jpg

Insert the siphon… warehouse7.jpg

Fill the sample… warehouse8.jpg

How stunning does this 12 year look? warehouse9.jpg

Then you hammer in one of these plugs! And on to the next one! warehouse10.jpg

As a SUPER special surprise ~ we even got to wander to a warehouse of even OLDER casks… (how surreal is the lighting in here by the way? and the colors?) warehouse11.jpg

And we found the cask containing the 1946… yes, that’s 64 year old… it’s what’s being sold in the Lalique Cire Perdue that’s coming up for auction… warehouse12.jpg

And we sampled that too! warehouse13.jpg

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