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The Macallan - The Malt: The Miniature Legacy; “The Definitive Guide To Buying Vintage Macallan”

The invention by The Macallan of whisky miniatures was a matter of delicious necessity rather than economic meanness. In the early years of the distillery The Macallan, so rare and so very precious, became a form of Highland currency.


While bottles and half-bottles were fine for transactions involving sheep, cattle or tractors, there was an issue where "change" was requested. Thus miniatures were conceived. Since then many companies have introduced their own miniatures, creating a universe of little satellite bottles, each circling the golden core that is The Macallan.

The potential uses for these lovely containers are myriad. At birthdays the gift of one tiny vessel for each year of the recipient is a tradition that accounts for the existence in Scotland of so many people who, while maintaining a youthful exterior, nevertheless claim to be 67.
 For others the miniatures are something to amass. Here the basis of collection is up to the individual. While some might focus on gaining stocks from particular years, others may choose instead to form chess sets, using bottles of different height and colour to represent the various pieces, a notion celebrated by Graham Greene in his novel "Our Man In Havana."

Yet perhaps the true spirit of the miniature is best seen in the modern phenomenon of the hand-stitched leather briefcase, opened at the airport, containing nothing but a Macallan miniature. And here there is a historical precedent. The Adoration of The Mini, an eighteenth century Scottish watercolour, shows three shepherds gathered in contemplation of a dainty bottle, the label of "The Macallan" discernible through a cushioning nest of wool fashioned by Highland men. On their faces can be seen the look of enthusiastic belief that has come to be recognised the world over as The Macallan Gaze; the attitude that no matter where one is heading, or what situation one has to deal with, whomsoever one might meet, it is always possible to have a bottle of The Macallan about you.


Written by Brian Henningan


The text is an excerpt from "The Definitive Guide to Buying Vintage Macallan" (pp. 29 - 30), First Edition, published 2003 by Macallan Distillery Ltd.