Great Scotch!

By staff April 1, 2006

The item: The Macallan limited-edition 50-year-old single-malt Scotch whisky, distilled in the Speyside region of the Scottish Highlands and bottled in a Lalique crystal decanter. This semi-centennial vintage, just released in January, boasts rich, complex flavors-dark prunes, chocolate, maraschino cherries, cumin, cardamom-and a lingering finish of sherry, oak and a hint of peat smoke. It's the spiritual equivalent of a roaring fire on a cold evening in the Cairngorm Mountains. Cost: $5,995

What makes it special: Patient perfectionism, no matter the expense. The Scotch's lifeblood is Golden Promise barley, a rich-flavored crop that produces so low a yield few farmers bother growing it. It's distilled in extra-small copper stills to concentrate the flavor, and only about 16 percent of the brew was chosen to mature for five decades in handcrafted Spanish sherry oak casks.

Behind the brand: Founded in 1824 on the 18th-century Easter Elchies Estate, The Macallan distillery overlooks the River Spey in northeast Scotland's famous whisky-producing area. In 2002, a bottle of The Macallan 60 Years Old (uncasked in 1986) brought $30,000, setting what was then a world record for a bottle of Scotch. That same year the distillery tapped into its whisky reserve-the largest in Scotland-to release the Fine & Rare Collection, with 10,000 bottles priced from $750 to $38,000.

Who has some: Former president Bill Clinton is a fan, as are movie presidents Harrison Ford and Michael Douglas. In 2004, Craig Kilborn, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn all sipped The Macallan 25 Years Old during Kilborn's final episode as host of CBS's Late Late Show. Other celeb Macallanites include Tom Brokaw, Nicolas Cage, Emma Thompson, newly divorced Newlyweds Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson.

Where to buy it: The Macallan's only signature shop, the distillery store in Craigellachie, Scotland, is conveniently located next to the most valuable collection of Macallan anywhere. Stateside, inquire at retailers (where The Macallan's less exclusive vintages can sometimes be found among the stores' high-end whiskies) or contact Remy Martin USA for special order.

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