With notes of chocolate in its new Harmony Collection Rich Cacao whisky, The Macallan is also bringing chocolate into another part of its production: a sustainable box.
The top-selling whisky brand is aiming to hit carbon neutrality by 2030–a decade before the Scotch Whisky Association industry targets. And in one of its most innovative moves, it’s launched a unique sustainable packaging for its new Harmony Collection—paper boxes made from chocolate pulp. But to understand the full story of The Macallan’s sustainability ethos, we have to travel back in time a bit.
The Macallan’s single malt whiskies are legendary. The Scottish brand has had time to perfect them—it’s been making world-class spirits for nearly two hundred years. Land stewardship has always played a role in that. To age casks, after all, requires stability and safekeeping.
That requires land that’s going to be there for decades—centuries in The Macallan’s case. That made sustainability a built-in. But it’s the last four years specifically that have been some of The Macallan’s most important on its storied timeline.
In 2018, the brand unveiled its new £140 million distillery, which is located in the Highlands of Scotland in Speyside. According to the brand, the contemporary architecture of the structure, which is cut into the slope of the land, takes its design cues from the ancient Scottish hills it abuts, “ensuring its presence does not disturb the beauty of the surrounding countryside.”
The 2,000m2 facility is now one of Europe’s largest green rooftops built from PEFC certified timber and featuring a mix of native grasses, it’s home to local wildlife. More than 80 percent of The Macallan distillery’s energy runs on renewable—a big part of the brand’s efforts to become carbon neutral by 2030.
The Macallan is bringing sustainability into all areas of its operations from innovation and environmental performance to community development, conservation efforts and charitable contributions. One of its efforts is a five-year conservation program for Atlantic salmon that migrate through the River Spey where The Macallan Estate is located.
These commitments earned The Macallan the Positive Luxury Butterfly Mark last year.
It also announced a partnership with Bentley Motors. The luxury brands will share learnings, knowledge, and experience in their respective sustainability efforts. Bentley is gearing up to launch its first EV and working toward ambitious sustainability goals. The brands say the partnership will help to “build a legacy of balancing excellence with environmental and social responsibility and help show that the exceptional can also be ethical.”
The Macallan is also bringing its sustainable efforts to something more tangible for the consumer—its first sustainable packaging. And like everything The Macallan does, this is an innovative display of craftsmanship and precision.
Chocolate notes, cacao boxes
The Harmony Collection is a limited-run whisky inspired by chocolate notes and chocolate-making practices.
“As I immersed myself in this world, I uncovered a great synergy between the whisky-making process and that of chocolate. Both take time and exceptional attention to detail, with even the slightest changes to the process encouraging different aromas and flavors to emerge,” said Polly Logan, The Macallan’s first female whisky maker.
Logan forged a relationship with Jordi Roca, the youngest of the acclaimed Roca brothers of Spain’s El Celler de Can Roca restaurant, as well as time with master chocolatier, Damian Allsop.
“Working in collaboration with Jordi Roca, acknowledged as one of the best and most creative pastry chefs in the world, and with exceptional chocolatier, Damian Allsop, I went on a journey of discovery, learning of the craftsmanship, passion, and creativity which goes into making chocolate,” Logan said.
“Our collaboration with The Macallan allows us to challenge our own creativity, and in this project, we have been allowed to play with cacao, which is one of my passions,” Roca said. “Being able to inspire a whisky and to create a unique tasting experience has been wonderful.”
These relationships pointed Logan toward searching the distillery’s sherry seasoned oak casks for chocolate notes. “The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao is a wonderful expression which brings together the world of whisky with the fascinating world of chocolate,” she says.
The limited-edition whisky marks the brand’s first sustainable packaging–and the industry’s first box made from cacao hulls. Cacao is the fruit where chocolate comes from.
The husks are salvaged from the chocolate industry—they’re typically destroyed or sent to landfills. The boxes, outer wraps, and ribbons are a mix of organic cacao shells, post-consumer waste, and FSC fiber. The outer wrap contains Miscantheses, and the ribbon includes ink and bonding agents.
Making it a true chocolate experience, The Macallan partnered with Compartés Chocolate for a whisky and chocolate pairing tasting set. The pairing tasting set includes: a bottle of The Macallan Harmony Collection Rich Cacao, a 10-piece box of custom-made chocolate from Compartés Chocolate inspired by the tasting notes of the whisky, a pairing guide, and two of The Macallan glencairn glasses.