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Discover a rare whisky distilled in 1940, as The Macallan unearths its oldest expression yet

The Reach is a collaborative tribute to a rare era of mettle and tenacity.  

Discover a rare whisky distilled in 1940, as The Macallan unearths its oldest expression yet

Wrought from the four elements of liquid, glass, bronze and wood, The Macallan Reach comes from a remarkable chapter in the distillery’s history. Photo: Nadav Kander

Humankind’s history may be recorded in books, but it can also be discovered through objects of its time. Locked within tokens such as a photograph or even a familiar scent, the brain fires up vignettes born of memory or imagination when encountering sensorial episodes.

The Macallan sees the same with its bottles. Every cask and every vintage tell a tale of its era. Some years, however, were more exceptional than others. In 1940, when faced with a turbulent chapter in world history, the distillery pushed through with one of its most limited productions. This rare bottle – christened The Reach – began as a symbol of fortitude. Now, more than eight decades later, it has emerged as a beacon of legacy and hope, to be recalled through a sip.   


The Macallan’s tale began in 1824 above the river Spey in north-east Scotland, where Alexander Reid founded one of the first licensed distilleries in the country. With his steadfast vision, the barley farmer and school teacher steered the brand to phenomenal success through almost two centuries of legacy.

When World War II was declared in 1939, the Scottish government placed a restriction on whisky sales and production in favour of reserving the barley for rations. The impact was profound on the entire scotch whisky industry.

The Reach was laid to rest in 1940 before The Macallan was compelled to close its doors for the first time in its history, and its survival represents the passion and care required to nurture this precious spirit.

Photo: The Macallan

The whisky is a tribute to the craftspeople at the distillery who displayed true grit and strength of character. Manpower was low, as some employees had departed for battle, while heavy flights of bombers passing overhead served as nightly reminders of the conflict. At the distillery, anxiety was overlaid with a quiet determination to carry on.  

Although making whisky became ever more difficult as fuel and barley supplies dwindled, the dedication of the workers remained absolute, and they continued to seek perfection in every aspect of the whisky’s creation. Time and again in the history of The Macallan, this trait has prevailed.


The Reach is an icon of visionary resilience, and the path was forged by many. In tribute to the people who made it happen, the 81-year-old single malt showcases its legacy in a dramatic display.

Matured in a single sherry-seasoned oak cask, the precious whisky is presented in an ornate glass decanter, held aloft by three hands. One commemorates the distillery workers of that tumultuous era, who pushed this spirit into existence with their dedication. Another is the hand of one-time chairman Allan Shiach, whose grandfather presided over the company when these casks were first consigned. And finally, the third belongs to master whisky maker Kirsteen Campbell, who selected the 1940 cask used to create The Reach, introducing this compelling chapter to the world for the first time.

Sculptor Saskia Robinson created the bronze sculpture with deliberate intent, made life-like with the subtleties of vein, nail and skin. Even where the mouth-blown decanter meets its pedestal, fine indentations that match the fingerprints of the hands can be found. Enclosing this prized bottle is a beautiful cabinet, wrought from the wood of a fallen elm tree thought to have been on The Macallan Estate in 1940.

“The creation of many hands, The Reach has been a truly collaborative effort. It’s also a tribute to the people who made this precious whisky, and their enduring spirit that never wavered,” Campbell said of the limited 288 editions now made available globally.


Photo: Christina Kernohan

Even visually, The Reach commands with an aura of prestige. “Its deep auburn hue is the first hint of this remarkable whisky’s astonishing depth,” Campbell shared.

The majestic colour comes with a complex nose. Dark chocolate, sweet cinnamon and aromatic peat rush in, followed by notes of plum, leather, pink grapefruit, redcurrant jelly and a rich resinous note. On the palate, the experience is just as alluring. Campbell describes the single malt’s profile as “treacle toffee, crystalised ginger and charred pineapple, before giving way to an intensely rich, sweet and smoky finish”.

More than a rare vintage, The Reach is an epochal expression that speaks of rich history and the undivided commitment displayed by its makers. Discover a legacy to remember at The Macallan at Raffles Hotel.