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The Spirit of 1926

The story of Nettie

The Macallan Present The Spirit of 1926

In 1926 Nettie Harbinson crafted what would become the most valuable bottle of wine or spirit ever sold at auction. 

Janet Isabella Harbinson, fondly known as ‘Nettie’, was a woman guided by conviction and a belief in doing the next right thing. She was fundamentally driven by this principle – especially when presented with a choice. 

Without setting out to do so, she crafted the most valuable single bottle of wine or spirit ever sold at auction; The Macallan 1926. By doing the next right thing for herself and the community around her – she unconsciously made history. It is this quiet heroism which makes Janet’s story one worth telling.


Janet is the essence and personification of The Macallan today and it is through her story that we can showcase our brand values in a compelling way.

Not only did she distil the most valuable bottle of wine or spirit sold at auction by amplifying The Macallan as a brand that continually pursues excellence, but she did so with a quiet modesty and grace, all while caring for people.

The Characters Behind the Film

Nettie’s story brought together many talented people, many of whom we have longstanding partnerships or have collaborated with in the past. Explore behind the stories that have helped to form the Spirit of 1926.


Nettie's story drew an impressive list of collaborators including lead actress Emily Mortimer, film director Mike Newell, and script writer Allan Schiach (alias name Allan Scott), who not only was the Managing Director of The Macallan for 18 years, his great aunt was Nettie Harbinson, the heroine of the film.

The film narrative is woven together by the hero song composed and recorded by Simple Minds, and costumes are by fashion designer Christopher Kane. We worked with our partner Bentley Motors to bring the story to life further, featuring a genuine Bentley Speed Six motor car from the era. 

The Macallan 1926

In 2019 The Macallan 1926 broke the world record for most valuable single bottle of wine or spirit ever sold at auction. This is Nettie’s legacy, encapsulated in a single, incomparable spirit.


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The Macallan 1926, Bottle Still

Meet Nettie

Records show Janet was a well-educated woman and philanthropist. She was the daughter of Roderick Kemp, who owned The Macallan from 1892-1909, the man widely considered to be the architect of The Macallan’s rise to prominence outside Scotland.

Janet’s husband, Alexander Harbinson, managed the business in the years preceding her late father. It was upon Alexander’s passing, Janet was faced with the choice to run her family business or to sell and she took the opportunity with both hands. She hired the best advisors and invested cautiously, yet wisely, to keep the business afloat and in turn help rebuild the local community.

The needs of the community were always front of mind, with Janet using her role to find more opportunities for international export, and looking after the war widows who remained her employees, ensuring that their futures would be protected. 



The Macallan Double Cask


Inside The Macallan

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Please find the Press Release content for this campaign here.