Scott McCroskie: Macallan ‘very close’ to 1m case sales mark

4th January, 2018 by Amy Hopkins - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3

The head of The Macallan, Scott McCroskie, says the secret to the single malt’s success is a historical obsession with quality, as it nears the one-million-case sales mark.

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Scott McCroskie, managing director of The Macallan

*This feature was first published in the September 2017 issue of The Spirits Business

James Bond may have swapped his usual shaken Martini for a refreshing swig of Heineken in 2012’s Skyfall, but for the film’s most explosive scene, another beverage stole the spotlight: The Macallan. A glass of 1962 Fine & Rare Macallan, which villain Raoul Silva referred to by name as a “50­year­old Macallan” and a “particular favourite” of Bond’s, was placed on the head of sultry love interest Sévérine. Unfortunately, Sévérine met her untimely demise during a risky marksmanship trial, leading Bond to simply comment: “That’s a waste of good Scotch.” Despite its grisly role in the film, it’s difficult to imagine a more fitting drink for the world’s suavest and slickest spy than The Macallan.

The single malt Scotch has long been an emblem of the luxury goods market, appealing to those with a taste for the finer things. But according to Scott McCroskie, managing director of The Macallan, luxury is not a characteristic that the brand ever actively sought to assume. “In my view, you can’t really choose to be luxury – you either are or you aren’t, and it’s what you do and how you do it that confirms if you are a luxury brand,” he tells me on a rainy day in London.

“Luxury products have craftsmanship, heritage, style and sophistication, and they have integrity, and if you have these things you can become a luxury brand, but you can’t just decide one day: ‘OK, now I’m going to position myself as luxury.’

“The Macallan has accidentally become a luxury brand because of how it operated for years and years. It’s not a deliberate choice, but we are a luxury brand.”

The Macallan: The breadwinner

McCroskie became managing director of The Macallan in 2015 after spending seven years as commercial director for parent company Edrington. His role change was part of the company’s move to a brand-focused structure, and he was certainly not disappointed to have been selected to take the reins at The Macallan – Edrington’s breadwinner.

“In a way it was a classic case of ‘which is your favourite child?’,” he muses, “but Macallan was always my favourite child. My father actually drank it and I have loved it for a long time. So from a point of view of my connection to the brand, and I guess the size of it, for me it was a brilliant opportunity.”

McCroskie assumed his role at an exciting point in The Macallan’s history, two years after plans were announced to build a new £100 million distillery and visitor centre for the brand in Speyside. The distillery will be commissioned and start to produce spirit “over the next month or two”, McCroskie confirms. Finishing touches are still being made to the bar, visitor centre and other amenities for future guests.

The site will be fully functional by early next summer, and McCroskie is emphatic about how it is shaping up. “It’s going wonderfully well; it’s stunning,” he enthuses. “It’s really exciting, and we are just getting to the end of the main build phase. The new distillery is unique – I don’t think there’s anything like it; in fact, I don’t think there will be anything like it again. It’s something truly special and we are absolutely delighted with the progress.”

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Macallan invested £100 million in the new Speyside distillery and visitor centre

The distillery’s rolling­-hills design by architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners certainly turned heads when initial plans were released in 2013. Edrington has stayed pretty tight­-lipped on its progress since construction work started, but provided The Spirits Business with a never-­before-­seen image of the site. McCroskie stresses that the spirit from the new site will be “identical” to that produced in the current distillery, using the same Forsyths stills and production processes. “It’s exactly the same, just more of it,” McCroskie says.

Edrington has not disclosed the new distillery’s capacity, but McCroskie says it is “about a third bigger” than the maximum capacity of the current site – which has also not been confirmed. He does, however, offer some benchmark by claiming that the new distillery will be of a similar size to “leading brands”.

Nevertheless, McCroskie says the project “isn’t really driven by capacity; it’s about wanting a brand home that’s in keeping with The Macallan brand”.

The distillery will play a key role in The Macallan’s future marketing messages and will be able to accept “about double” the number of visitors to the current distillery. “It’s still quite small numbers in the scheme of things,” says McCroskie. “We don’t want to be a mass tourism destination – that’s not the point. But we do want it to communicate a better essence of the brand.”

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