Review: This Macallan Whisky Attempts to Bottle a “Sensorial Journey” Through NYC

The latest Distil Your World release is a single malt Scotch that aims to evoke the five boroughs

April 26, 2022 6:30 am
The packaging and bottle for The Macallan Distil Your World New York, available now. It's a single malt Scotch that attempts to bottle the flavors of New York City.
The Macallan Distil Your World New York
The Macallan

What we’re drinking: The Macallan Distil Your World New York

Where it’s from: This iconic Speyside distillery has been operating since 1824, and they’ve released a number of fascinating limited-edition bottles in the past few years that pull people in from outside the Scotch world.

Why we’re drinking this: Can you make a Scotch inspired by New York City?

The Macallan has released area-inspired single malts before; the Distil Your World series includes odes to London, Jerez (Spain) and even Scotland itself.

For this NYC-inspired release, The Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan worked again with the Roca brothers, owners of Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca (twice named Best Restaurant in the World) and collaborators on the Distil Your World series.

“How do you distill a city into a bottle?” one Macallan rep rhetorically asked during the Distil Your World launch at NYC’s Rainbow Room. “It’s the cultures, the smells, the food, but it’s really all about the people.”

To that end, Logan and Joan Roca came to the city and met with jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, graffiti artist Lady Pink, art curator at the Guggenheim Museum Megan Fontanella, high-end fashion designer Daniel Silverstein and sneaker culture historian Dee Wells, all of whom you can see in this whisky making-of documentary.

That’s all well and good, but besides the easy jokes about whisky flavors inspired by New York (Dirty hot dog water? Summer subway where the air conditioner isn’t working? Staten Island?), I was intrigued by the idea of a whisky brand marrying casks together in a unique flavor profile that’s outside the whisky norm — much like the recent Compass Box Vellichor expression, which attempted to replicate the “experience, emotion, and aroma of old bookshops” (and had some very old Macallan in its bottle).

So, much like that Macallan rep, I wondered, could you really distill the essence of a city in a bottle?

How it tastes: The latest Macallan release is a combination of six European and American oak casks. Arriving at 49.5% ABV, it’s bold but not overwhelming.

A sunrise-like amber in color, this Distil release included tasting notes that promised hints of candied peanuts, chocolate and baked apples. We’d even heard that the pretzel carts of Central Park were an inspiration here, providing a cereal/doughiness character.

What I actually found? The apple notes are very prominent here, both on the nose and palate — a drinks cohort of mine even suggested this seemed like, at first sip, an apple-flavored whisky. I wouldn’t go nearly that far, but I will say this is less NYC but feels and tastes more like a fall in upstate New York (there’s even a hint of maple here). 

Distil is a fun story and if you like The Macallan’s core releases, this serves as an interesting but recognizable detour. It’s sweet, warm and bright, and a nice sipper on your next hayride or apple picking session. I wouldn’t put it on par with last fall’s excellent The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao, another collaboration with one of the Roca brothers (this time pastry chef Jordi Roca) as well as master chocolatier Damian Allsop, where the chocolate notes were the more intriguing emphasis.

You may be a fan of this whisky’s aesthetic design, however: Distil Your World New York is housed in a white presentation box featuring an engraved aerial map of New York. The box also contains a book showcasing the different inspirations behind this single malt.

Fun fact: This actually isn’t the first Scotch that utilizes New York as an influence. Released a few years back, Jura Brooklyn is a peated single malt inspired by (and curated with) some bigwigs of the Brooklyn food scene.

Where to buy it: The Macallan Distil Your World New York is a limited-edition release of 1,000 bottles at $4,200 for the 70cl bottle and $4,500 for the 75cl version at select The Macallan Boutiques around the world, in premium specialist retailers and in exclusive premium non-specialist retailers.


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