The third release in The Macallan Concept Series – the Macallan Concept No.3 – taps on the creative brilliance of visionary graphic designer David Carson. We speak to Polly Logan, Whisky Maker at The Macallan, to find out more about this limited edition whisky.

The Macallan recently released The Macallan Concept No.3, the third and concluding expression in its The Macallan Concept Series of travel retail exclusive, limited-edition whiskies.

Those who have been following would know that The Macallan Concept No.1 drew inspiration from surrealism, while No. 2 drew ideas from the world of music.

And No.3?

We had the opportunity to have a chat with Polly Logan, Whisky Maker at The Macallan, who was responsible for putting this whisky together. She gives us the lowdown on The Macallan Concept No.3 in graphic detail.

Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan

Tell us more about yourself and your journey so far as a Whisky Maker at The Macallan.

Polly Logan (PL): I graduated from Heriot Watt University in 2004 with a BSc HONS degree in Brewing and Distilling. While at university, I completed two summer placements, one with Diageo at its Clynelish Distillery and Glen Ord maltings, and another with Whyte & Mackay at its Invergordon Distillery, where I set up a sensory analysis on the existing nosing panel.

Upon completing my studies, I joined Tomatin Distillery as production manager and was responsible for various aspects of the production process, including buying barley, optimising production, new product development, and quality control.

Prior to joining The Macallan as a Whisky Maker in 2018, I worked as a site operations manager across multiple sites in Speyside, including Knockando, Benrinnes, Dailuaine, Glen Spey, Glenlossie and Mannochmore. I covered all aspects of the day-to-day running of the distilleries, from on- site health and safety, people management, production, and compliance with SEPA, COMAH and other regulatory bodies.

My role as Whisky Maker at The Macallan means I have responsibility for crafting single-malt whiskies for the existing portfolio and exploring new product development. I also watch over the younger stock to ensure it is properly allocated for future products, carefully assessing the maturation in specific cask types.

The Macallan Concept series took Macallan’s approach to non-age whiskies in seemingly different directions aside from a connection to art. No.1 drew inspiration from surreal art, while Macallan Concept No.2 found it in music. With David Carson, Concept No.3 looks to draw its own from graphic design. Tell us more.

PL: Concept No. 3 is the latest release in The Macallan Concept Series, which is a limited collection of annual release whiskies which fuse the artistry and expertise behind our whisky-making with creativity and culture. Each release is designed to create an extraordinary taste experience.

For the third and final expression in the series, we turned to acclaimed US graphic designer David Carson. Born in Texas, 1954, David, who is also a professional surfer, began his career as a magazine designer. In the 1990s he became art director of the magazine Ray Gun, where his experimental page layouts featuring pioneering use of typography revolutionised the field of graphic design.

To bring David’s unique perspective to the design of Concept No. 3, David visited The Macallan Estate in Speyside, and we discovered a remarkable number of similarities that define our approaches in our respective crafts.

I was humbled when David included in his unique, handmade collage designs for Concept No. 3 some very special touches to celebrate our shared outlook and methodology – including the letter P for Polly. Many of the colours used are also those found at The Macallan Estate on Scotland’s Speyside, with blue representing the magical River Spey and red reflecting our exceptional sherry- seasoned oak casks.

I personally drew on influence from David’s character and career when crafting Concept No. 3, to create an unusually fresh whisky, with a distinctive warm, golden hue that pays tribute to his years on the USA’s West Coast.

How did you interpret Carson’s approach to graphic design into a whisky? What was the most difficult part of deciphering what’s predominantly a visual product into one – whisky – that incorporates pretty much all of the senses?

PL: It was an absolute joy to work with David Carson on the creation of Concept No. 3. I was deeply inspired by his vibrancy, and drew on this to create a bright, fresh whisky. Its pale-yellow colour, which we’ve named Californian Gold, reflects David’s sun-soaked days as a surfer and it also reveals the citrus notes which shine through.

Whisky and art fans alike will appreciate the fine balance achieved in this wonderfully uplifting expression, combining fruity notes of pear with warming cinnamon spice and a creamy, vanilla sweetness.

What’s the cask profile of The Macallan Concept No.3? What was the most unusual cask type that was used in its making?

PL: Concept No. 3 has been carefully crafted to deliver complexity from predominantly first fill sherry seasoned American oak casks that deliver a sweetness and spice, enhanced by a selection of European oak casks to add depth and richness. Balance and freshness are achieved by specially selected refill and virgin oak casks.

Describe No.3’s taste profile.

PL: The character of Concept No. 3 is defined by a complex flavour profile:

Aroma – Sweet fresh pear and apricot, gentle oak spice, with warm cinnamon and ginger, followed by vanilla and sweet citrus.

Palate – Fresh apple and pear combine with oak spice and delicate herbal notes, leading to a rich creamy vanilla sweetness.

Finish – Medium sweetness with smooth, buttery pastry notes.

No.3 concludes the Concept series. What can consumers look forward to if they really, really enjoyed these three whiskies?

PL: We have recently unveiled A Night On Earth In Scotland single malt whisky, which reveals the story of Scotland’s world-famous Hogmanay festivities and captures the universal joy of celebrating the change of year. It is the first in a new limited edition gifting series, A Night On Earth In Scotland is a collaboration with acclaimed Japanese-French illustrator Erica Dorn, whose artwork has featured in leading director Wes Anderson’s films.

We have also extended The Macallan Double Cask range with the introduction of Double Cask 30 Years Old. This builds on the portfolio of expressions available within the coveted Double Cask range, joining 12 Years Old, 15 Years Old and 18 Years Old.

I wish I could tell you more about the innovations myself and The Macallan Whisky Mastery team are working on, but it is safe to say that there are some incredibly exciting releases to come.

What can the whisky world expect from Polly Logan, Whisky Maker, in the coming years at The Macallan?

PL: It is a privilege to be a custodian of one of the world’s leading single malt whisky brands.

With The Macallan you have the opportunity to work with some of the most exceptional and exclusive whiskies to have ever existed, and our team is building a legacy which will guide the art of whisky making for years to come.

On top of this, I am able to work in one of the most spectacular settings at The Macallan Estate, which is located amidst breath-taking natural landscapes in the heart of the Speyside.

A global travel retail exclusive, the Macallan Concept No. 3 is available at Lotte Duty Free Wines and Spirits Stores at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 and 3, Departure Hall at a retail price of S$199 (700ml).

[Image credits: The Macallan]

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