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The Macallan Double Cask

Rising to the Challenge

E600CA23-A5CF-4F30-BC0F-7E8B830451E0@2x Jun 03 2021 · 2 min read

There are few crafts that stand the test of time, that continue to uphold traditional methods despite new technological innovations and the drive for faster processes. Exceptional quality cannot be rushed. 

Skills, experience and mastery come together in cask making. Wood staves need to be selected by coopers when they are ready, carefully cut and formed into casks held in by metal hoops. Yet the cooper also needs to be able to sense when the wood is just toasted or charred enough for the purpose intended.

The Standing of the Casks

 In the journey of The Macallan Double Cask, two worlds come together in Jerez, Spain when American and European oak meet for the first time. Here the staves are shaped under the pressure of flame to become The Macallan casks. Known as the ‘standing of the casks’; the wooden staves are sanded down and hammered into a rough shape, bound together by metal hoops. 

In this one-of-a-kind process, the half-formed casks are sprayed with water to make them pliable enough to begin to be fashioned into their final shape. They are placed over small fires set in the ground that toast the insides of the oak, while consistently being splashed with water by the coopers to ensure that they do not wholly catch fire. 


The Work of a Cooper

Masters of wood, these skilled coopers are part of a centuries old craft and play an integral role in The Macallan Double Cask journey. Coopers undertake an apprenticeship which lasts 4-5 years, during which time the knowledge is passed down from master to apprentice. For many, this time-honoured profession is a lifelong ambition.

Using primarily traditional techniques, coopers need to be able to intimately understand and work with diverse types of wood, built to precise specifications. These masters of their trade have an essential part to play in creating the casks that house our exceptional single malt whiskies as they mature.

This is the beginning of the maturation of the wood, where the stage is set for distinct flavour notes to develop. Patience once again plays an integral role in the journey of the wood, this time in its toasting. In contrast to ‘charring’ the wood (often used in ex-bourbon casks whereby the cask is heated quickly and creates a ‘char’), toasting the wood is a slower, more measured process. 

In preparation for the sherry seasoning of the casks, the wood is toasted for longer at a lower temperature. Both European and American oak are toasted in the cooperages. This lower, sustained heat causes a caramelisation of the wood, which contributes to the sweet, toasted, candyfloss flavours. 

Toasting enables these characteristics to be passed on to The Macallan new make spirit, which then culminates in the variety of colour and flavours present in the The Macallan Double Cask range. 

Double Cask 15 Years Old

Matured for 15 years, Double Cask 15 Years Old is a rich, golden butterscotch colour; 100 percent of the colour is naturally derived from our sherry seasoned oak casks. Delivering notes of dried fruits, vanilla and citrus, it is a harmonious union of cask and craft.

Double Cask 18 Years Old

Patiently matured for 18 years, this distinct single malt is a harmony of American and European oak sherry seasoned casks. This exquisite combination delivers a whisky with a sweeter, warmer taste, and true depth of character.

Looking Forwards

Once the casks have been closely inspected and approved by our Master of Wood, Stuart MacPherson, they travel a shorter distance to the sherry bodegas of Jerez, Spain for the next stage of this incredible journey. 

The Previous Chapter

A Story of Nature at its Best

The Next Chapter

Rich Seasoned Excellence