Insight on the brand's superb new release from their Master of Wood
by David Graver in Food + Drink on 20 October 2014
with contributions from Evan Orensten
Imagine trying to run a business where what you make today gets turned into products 12 to more than 70 years from now. How could you possibly forecast volume and preferences? That's exactly what many Scottish whisky companies try to do. The Macallan has always impressed us not only for their exceptional products, but also for the innovation that Master Whisky Maker Bob Delgarno has brought to the brand since his appointment as Whisky Maker in 1996. During that time he's successfully moved the brand from it's traditional core expressions of 12, 15, 17, 18, 25 and 40 year old bottles of The Macallan's finest.
A program he's been working on recently is a range that sits between the Macallan's 18 and 40 year old products which are harder to find these days with a huge increase in global demand and a limited supply of aging whisky that was placed in barrels that many years ago. To satisfy global demand Delgarno has developed several new expressions of The Macallan, most notably the 1824 series, a range of color-based products that start around $50 for The Macallan Gold and hit north of $4,500 for 2013's introduction of M, one of our 2013 fall favorites.
It's important to remember that The Macallan makes only one spirit, and that same spirit is aged in a variety of casks made of American and Spanish oak that have previously aged American whiskies and Spanish sherry. The latter is The Macallan's claim to whisky fame—they have more Spanish sherry casks—the whisky world's most coveted—than any other maker. Each cask variety brings its own flavor, color and character to the whisky, and that's what allows Delgarno to create the range of products now available. Some have age statements (which are always the year of the youngest Scotch added) and others do not. The many expressions in The Macallan's 1824 Series focus on color. Natural color, that is; something that The Macallan is known for. The quality of their casks creates a range of caramel to ruby colored liquids that other whisky houses can only match by adding coloring.
The latest release of the 1824 series includes Rare Cask, which is just launching and is currently available only in the USA. Sitting north of the 18 year old (which retails for around $275 here), Rare Cask debuts at around $380. Defined by the liquid's rich red color, the sherry oak casks (many are first fill, meaning that it is the first time that scotch has been placed in them to age) that house it are selected for the rich and tasty hue they bring to it. It is indeed rare, only a limited number of bottles will make their way to retailers, but it is expected to be an ongoing addition to the line and not a limited release. Each cask that goes in to every expression is hand selected by Dalgarno. Rare Cask is a naturally vibrant liquid that noses of raisin and dried fruit, sherry spice and rich vanilla.
For a fuller understanding of how deeply wood impacts The Macallan and its specific influence on Rare Cask, we spoke with Master of Wood Stuart MacPherson. MacPherson oversees The Macallan's very unique wood program. It starts with forests it owns in Spain, where oak trees averaging around 150 years old are felled and brought to a cooperage it owns to be made into casks. While MacPherson also looks after all other wood that he turns into casks and the American whisky and bourbon casks that are also part of The Macallan's wood program, the Spanish sherry oaks are the most important. So much so that after growing the trees and turning them into casks, they provide them to a duo of Spain's best sherry makers for free. They in turn use them to age their products for around 18 months. Once the sherry has been removed and bottled the casks are sent up to Scotland, where they visit another of the company's cooperages and are brought back into tip-top condition. From there the casks make their way up to the distillery where they are filled with new make spirit. From there the casks journey a few hundred feet into one of the brand's many aging barns, where they'll sit for anywhere from 12 to more than 60 years before being mixed with other casks (most of the time) and turned into one of their expressions.
"Sherry seasoned casks are at the very heart of The Macallan and this defining factor has contributed to the fame of the brand today," he shares with CH. "Each expression has its own profile and character taken from the type of wood and time of maturation to allow us to create our 100% naturally colored products." As for this deep coloration, it implies sherry cask aging and acts as an indicator on the flavor profile the spirit within.
The Macallan notes that up to 60% of its whiskey's' flavors and aromas hail from the barrels they're aged in. MacPherson continues, "Our robust wood policy and close relationships with our Spanish cooperages ensure that our casks are constructed to a specific design which in turn provides the colors, aromas and distinctive flavors we require in our range of products." It's a role that MacPherson, who used to run one of the cooperages, takes enormous pride in.
But even with so much attention and awareness two casks side by side composed of the same wood and restored in the same manner age whisky in different ways. It's the course of nature that often leads to the unexpected. This diversity as well as their range of oak wood are actually beneficial to the process. "Obviously the different oaks that we use and the different attributes they give to the spirit are more beneficial to the team of whisky makers, as it gives them a greater range of flexibility to create our range," MacPherson adds. "Through our sampling process they can identify which casks are performing better than others and utilize them to their full potential." Rare Cask is a single malt composite of those select sherry casks and the result is easy to sip, complex on the palate and slowly lingers until the last sherry note.
You can purchase The Macallan Rare Cask online, or in store across the US, for $300.
We're helping The Macallan launch Rare Cask, so stay tuned for some special sponsored features celebrating other rare makers and a Rare edition of our celebrated Gift Guide.
Images by Josh Rubin
Worlds collide for two iconic anniversaries in this new collection by the kawaii retailer
by Phuong-Cac Nguyen in Style on 20 October 2014
Let the clamoring begin, because it very well may be one of the cutest—and most surprising—combos in history. A year after Sanrio and Twentieth Century Fox announced the The Simpsons and Hello Kitty brand licensing opportunities in anticipation of Sanrio’s 40th anniversary along with The Simpson’s 25th this year (teasing the public with a picture of just the top of the heads of the Simpsons’ family members with Hello Kitty nestled among them), fans of the characters will finally see the first of those product launches on 30 October 2014. On that day, JapanLA’s adorable and covetable eight-piece line makes its anticipated debut at Hello Kitty Con 2014 at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. It’s just one of the few special events lined up for the Hello Kitty weekend extravaganza.
Blogs and fan sites had buzzed with speculation. Should we expect to see Marge or Lisa with the classic Hello Kitty bow in her hair? Will Hello Kitty’s fur be shaded yellow? In the full reveal, the designers at Fox and Sanrio have stayed loyal to each character’s distinct look, except the Simpsons' trademark bulging eyes and noses have been replaced with the tiny oval shapes that we have come to associate with Hello Kitty’s face, and their hands are paws. Hello Kitty is her usual self and looks like a natural part of the cast.
“Seeing [Hello Kitty and the Simpsons] together and interacting is really exciting. I think that’s why everyone gets excited… It’s something you wouldn’t imagine. They did it, you see it and it makes sense, and looks very cute. It’s Hello Kitty making The Simpsons even cuter,” says JapanLA founder Jamie Rivadeneira.
For JapanLA, pitching Sanrio on the concept of the clothing line was a natural next step in its longtime, on-going partnership with the retailer—Rivadeneira has curated several of its LA events and is one of the organizers of the Hello Kitty Convention. Her store already has created 12 Hello Kitty clothing lines thus far, including a special line for the Hello Kitty exhibit currently running at the neighboring Japanese American National Museum. The collaborative line took Rivadeneira and creative director Stephanie Nguyen one year to decide on the pieces.
The latest line is decidedly fun and of course colorful, incorporating the same signature considerations that JapanLA puts into all of its clothing designs: oversize printed tops, made to be worn with ruffle or shorts and leggings—just like how women like to wear tops in Japan, Rivadeneira points out—dresses, a skirt and a bright-red knit cardigan. The men’s offering will be a t-shirt.
The collection, made in LA, will be available first at JapanLA’s booth at the Hello Kitty Convention, before it’s available at a total of 12 retailers, both online and in boutiques including JapanLA and Sanrio stores. The only piece that will not be available locally is the cardigan, which will debut in the US in December.
Pieces run from $65 for a tee to $160 for the cardigan, and JapanLA is already working on a follow-up collection for spring 2015.
Images courtesy of JapanLA
With Shinola, we look back on our favorite made-in-America brand stories
by CH Editors in Design on 20 October 2014
As part of Detroit-based manufacturer Shinola's Makers Monday initiative—which encourages purchasing American-made products to help create and keep jobs in the United States—Cool Hunting is highlighting and looking back on our favorite brands that make quality products in our very own backyard. First up, it's rugged, functional and long-lasting gear for those with an adventurous spirit and desire to get outside and into the wilderness.
A tour of Danner's Portland facility with pattern engineer Casey Rakoczy meant CH got an inside look at the heritage brand's processes. The company’s manufacturing standards remain as they have for nearly a century, with each boot upholding Danner’s commitment to rigorous testing standards, materials sourced in the US and meticulous handmade construction in their factory outside Portland—standards so high that the company is also called upon to make footwear for not only loggers and fashion enthusiasts, but also hikers, hunters and the United States Marine Corps. It takes three to four days to make each boot, with nearly every step done by hand—from selecting and cutting each piece of leather, to sewing and molding each one of Danner’s custom lasts.
When newlyweds Mac and Katherine McMillan started Pierrepont Hicks in 2009, their mission was to make the perfect tie. Having achieved achieved that goal some time ago, the duo has expanded their line bit by bit to include shoes and outerwear for men and women. With heavy duty, rugged and durable apparel just made for adventuring, the label has come a long way in four short years. And, while named for a leafy corner in Brooklyn, New York, Pierrepont Hicks is for those who aren't afraid to get some dirt on their boots and explore the wilds beyond the city limits.
When launching their new factory and global headquarters last year—the first move for the brand in 80 years—Filson invited us in for a first look at their new space. CH got a unique peek behind the scenes and learned how this classic luggage and outdoor clothing company manages concepts, sales and production all under one roof. Originally outfitting pioneers for the Alaskan wilderness, Filson has maintained their heritage elements as they expand the function and fit of their products for the modern world.
Running in the same American Heritage circles as Danner and Filson, Wolverine (founded back in 1883) is known for providing true lovers of the outdoors with dependable, no-nonsense products. We are still loving the made-in-USA Rowan by Wolverine 1000 Mile and Filson, which offers a vintage aesthetic executed with proven materials and trusted techniques. The company is truly heritage and, for 130 years, has maintained its dedication to authenticity and providing active people with comfortable and functional boots and shoes.
Danner factory image by Adrienne So, all others courtesy of respective brands