The Macallan pulls back fake bottles

Edrington Group removes disputed bottles from the “Wall of Whisky” at the new Macallan distillery visitor centre

On June 2, 2018, a whole new era began for The Macallan with the official opening of the new distillery in a completely new design (see our report here). Since then, visitors can get an idea of this superlative distillery and are often also impressed by the glass exhibition wall, the "Wall of Whisky", which presents around 400 different archive bottles in the modern visitor centre. This collection of antique bottles on display is intended to provide a historical insight into Macallan bottle designs and labels from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Among them are bottlings from 1841, 1861 and 1879, but these very old bottles are disputed. The Edrington Group has now responded to media pressure by removing all bottles that could not be uniquely authenticated.

Macallan 1878 a fake

An incident in Switzerland that aroused great media interest in August 2017 got the ball rolling. In the bar of the Hotel Waldhaus am See in St. Moritz, a Chinese guest drank a glass of Macallan 1878 whisky for 9,999 Swiss francs, the equivalent of around 8,600 euros. A short time later, the first doubts arose from industry experts as to the origin and authenticity of the bottle, caused by alleged historical inaccuracies on the label. Analytical investigations of the contents of the opened bottle indeed revealed it as a fake. Macallan, supposedly distilled at the end of the 19th century, is a whisky produced between 1970 and 1972 that is also highly likely to contain Blended Scotch.

Media pressure

As a precaution, Macallan removed these bottles from the exhibition at the company's Easter Elchies House and promised to exhibit a fully authenticated collection in the new Macallan distillery, which was still under construction. But these same bottles have now reappeared in public in the new £140m distillery and concerns have been raised again by whisky experts and social media. The company finally bowed to this pressure. The Edrington Group has not yet announced exactly how many and which bottles were removed.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, a large number of suspicious or counterfeit Scottish whisky bottles – including Macallan – began to appear at auction. In the early 2000s, the Edrington Group bought back up to 100 bottles of Macallan from the 19th century. Some of them were auctioned off again and others offered for sale. Now scientific research has shown that many of the bottles tested are counterfeit.

 

The "Wall of Whisky" of Macallan