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Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman

Notes of a photographic journey in Spain, from Jerez to Santander

We challenged ourselves to make The Macallan Masters of Photography Edition 2 quite different from the Rankin Edition, and so we were delighted to give this project to Albert Watson to be shot in a very filmic way with a fine art dimension.

Following the journey of our exceptional oak casks from the cool forests of northern Spain, to the baking heat of our cooperage in Jerez, then to the magnificence of the Highlands of Scotland, ending up at the holy grail that is The Macallan Estate was always going to be a challenge; but telling an art noire story of discovery and effectively shooting an exhibition of fine art prints has been mind bogglingly difficult.

Arriving in Jerez last Sunday with a crew of 14 plus 27 equipment cases was already a logistical challenge, but each location had its own issues to be overcome.

Albert is an extraordinary master craftsman, with an uncanny, rapid and decisive eye for a shot, but most importantly the skill to almost paint with light that is a forgotten art. As we sped around the Spanish countryside with what was effectively a studio to be packed and unpacked at each location, it was a marvel to see the speed and precision at which he worked.

The cooperage, with its open fires and at times fog of sawdust and wood shavings, all in an outside temperature of 41 degrees, required supreme concentration and resolve from the sweat stained crew and models to get the desired result. All with the mantra of Albert looking for singular shots and not just shooting documentary footage.

The attempt to find vineyard locations was a physical challenge of dusty roads, furnace-like heat and disappointment, as our preferred location had dug up its vines two weeks before, rendering it useless. Ultimately, late in the afternoon on the second day we drove over a hill to see the perfect location and gorgeous light, and suddenly everything fell into place.

The contrast of asking the local zoo and botanical park to open up in the early morning, so that we could shoot the perfect tree, next to the White Tiger and peacock enclosures added an almost surreal and comic element to the proceedings.

Running out of time and searching determinedly with this vigorous and indefatigable genius for a moody shot in the cool, dark bodegas of Gonzalez Byass required stamina and skill to avoid the early summer tourists in our way. Once discovered, the ability to set up a romantic and cinematic shot with our hero and heroine, lit with Rembrandt like skill was astonishing.

The skilful management of a big crew, to keep their energy up and to get them on their game in seconds to execute a precise fine art shot was a skill in itself.

All the time the self imposed pressure was on our behind the scene film crew and me to tell the story of this remarkable undertaking in a way that no one has ever done before. Using real time documentary by producing a video blog every 2 days, a gallery of photographs daily and also to share via Twitter and audioboo sound bites of the action and tying it all together in a live gps map resulted in lots of action but little sleep.

The north of Spain, in the form of Santander, saw a cooler environment with a richness of textures and people but the problem of how to light a large dark sawmill and make it interesting. Glorious forest vistas were selected but then disaster as a cold weather front from the Atlantic brought leaden skies and chilling drizzle.

We returned the next day to a different climate from the baking heat of southern Spain. It took all of Albert's years of skill, in lighting, composition and perspective to escape with the bare minimum of shots needed for this part of our photographic journey.

And so, after six months planning, the Spanish leg of our trip is over and we have enough shots to tell the story of our art noire, evocative road trip and, just as importantly, the precious fine art shots for our exhibition.

Then the long journey from Santander to Elgin, arriving exhausted at 1am but up with the lark to see what the Scottish part of our journey brings. Keep reading to find out.

The Masters of Photography: Mario Testino Edition

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The Macallan

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Looking for Christmas dram inspiration? @NicoleGibbons recommends our stylish 12 Years Old... http://t.co/XLjANaD5vm http://t.co/74RcJewBQs

19 Dec 14
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Visit The Moment to discover food & whisky pairings from our friends in Africa #dramfinefood http://t.co/I0MPAGxjLy http://t.co/D5O4Sb8kww

18 Dec 14

Dram Fine Food

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Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Behold the ultimate whisky glass to savour your dram…The Macallan Glass by @Lalique http://t.co/UQ7Oy2covb

17 Dec 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Behold the ultimate whisky glass to savour you dram…The Macallan Glass by @LALIQUE http://t.co/TLAUqVqewD

17 Dec 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby – which whisky is on your Christmas list? #The1824Series http://t.co/WeTb0b1VwN

12 Dec 14
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Get in the festive spirit with The Macallan Rob Roy - @tonightsdram shared this shot of his #RobRoy made with Amber http://t.co/gZBZxDdiLx

11 Dec 14
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Today we celebrate @SteveBooker’s shot of our 1824 Series, showcasing the natural colours of our precious single malt http://t.co/XJ0HMeBlva

05 Dec 14
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The Macallan

@the_macallan

Join us behind the scenes for The #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino edition. Can you spot our iconic 18 Years Old? http://t.co/CmWtvDpS66

04 Dec 14
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@USMacallan

RT @USMacallan: Follow along 12/3 as @OneDapperStreet goes behind the scenes at The Masters of Photography 5 w/ @MarioTestino. #MacallanMas

02 Dec 14
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@the_macallan

Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Dark,rich & satisfying Oscuro from our 1824 Collection offers notes of figs, oranges & apples http://t.co/rdrYXAybKR

03 Dec 14
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@the_macallan

Congratulations to our friends Joan, Josep & @jordirocasan for maintaining three Michelin Stars at @CanRocaCeller http://t.co/e0vMucT7c0

28 Nov 14
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@the_macallan

#HappyThanksgiving! See @Huckberry’s great timeless ‘Guide to Thanksgiving’ for dram inspiration... http://t.co/aTS0oj5rch

27 Nov 14
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@the_macallan

Happy #WhiskyWednesday! Feast your eyes on our #MacallanMasters @MarioTestino edition featuring six hidden whiskies.. http://t.co/T6KFDTEi8N

26 Nov 14
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@the_macallan

Introducing The Macallan glass by @LALIQUE - discover more on our new nosing & tasting glass http://t.co/xT2ZGrehOW http://t.co/AWXJ3f3qzv

21 Nov 14

The Macallan glass by Lalique

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#TBT to a behind the scenes shot of our Sherry Oak 12 Years Old on set with Mario Testino for #MacallanMasters http://t.co/ypTbYZsbep

20 Nov 14
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RT @stevebooker: Here's my last shot from @The_Macallan Instagram takeover, I hope you guys have enjoyed it! http://t.co/pUpzyLV6zT http://…

13 Nov 14
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RT @stevebooker: New image on @The_Macallan feed, go give it a like. The Tasting Experience was incredible. http://t.co/bW8lUHkJR7" target="_blank">http://t.co/bW8lUHkJR7 http://t

12 Nov 14
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RT @stevebooker: My third shot is now up on the @The_Macallan feed, check it out. Can you believe this room?! http://t.co/BkIggQMdH5 http:/…

12 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: My second shot is now up on @The_Macallan Instagram go and take a look. http://t.co/cFKSuUkPP8 http://t.co/hVbaEIgCDI

12 Nov 14
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Steve Booker

@stevebooker

RT @stevebooker: Guys, go and check out my first image over on @The_Macallan instagram! http://t.co/g0GFAVGYWj http://t.co/vVYgtF1YBR

12 Nov 14

Introducing The 1824 Masters Series

EXPANSION AT THE HOME OF THE MACALLAN

The Macallan Lifestyle Lounge Launches in Harrods

Jordi Roca

Josep Roca

Joan Roca

Behind the scenes at El Celler De Can Roca

The Winners

El Celler de Can Roca

The Shortlist

The Macallan Attends SXSWi

Masters of Photography: Master Class

The Macallan’s characters captured continued...

The Macallan’s characters captured

The Straits Adventure

Meeting Elliott Erwitt by Leica’s Robin Sinha

Elliott Erwitt brings his Great Scottish Adventure to Mexico

Sean Lee-Davies captures the character of Hong Kong

Vladimir Vyatkin captures the character of Russia

The Macallan Masters of Photography: Elliott Erwitt Edition UK launch

The Macallan Masters of Photography: Elliott Erwitt Edition LA launch

The Macallan Masters of Photography: Elliott Erwitt Edition

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