Here at The Macallan, time is a crucial ingredient at every stage of the whisky-making process, from the time it takes to season the oak for our casks to the slow, steady process of distillation in our famous small spirit stills. The Macallan’s single malts are the ultimate expressions of time, and of tradition – a reflection of The Macallan’s own rich history and dedication to excellence.
And it’s time – in fractions of a second – that is the crucial ingredient in the work and exquisite imagery of internationally-renowned photographer Steve McCurry. Because photography, like distillation, is an expression of time, of exposure, of finding exactly the right moment to capture the essence and spirit of your subject.
A Magnum star
Steve McCurry has been a Magnum photographer since 1986. He started on his career path by travelling across India with a bag of clothes and a bag of film, from there making his first visit to Afghanistan in 1979, disguised in local garb, and capturing images that went around the world. Most famous is his 1984 shot of “The Afghan Girl”, a dazzling-eyed Pashtun child in a refugee camp in Peshawar, since named “the most recognized photograph” in the history of the National Geographic.
Steve’s focus is on the tender state of our humanity, and wherever he focuses his lens, the ultimate focus is, he says, on “human connection between all of us”.
Home is where the heart is
Steve became an artistic partner with The Macallan in 2012, capturing in camera the six-year build of The Macallan’s Distillery and Visitor Experience on our Speyside estate. “It was this process of starting from nothing,” says Steve. “It blossomed and became this incredible piece of art – an artistic expression of how nature and the human touch can blend and create a truly unique piece of architecture.”
Collaboration is a crucial part of The Macallan ethos – whether it be with farmers for our barley, with the cooperages of Spain for our casks, or with the springwaters of the River Spey itself, which we source for our new-make spirit. Our collaboration with Steve resulted in a set of photographs that reveal not only the mastery Steve has over his medium, but The Macallan’s dedication to turning our vision of a new, sustainable home into reality.
Roll out the barrel
“It’s really about being present – I like to get lost in the moment,” says Steve of his work. “You have to be in the right state of mind, and then magic happens.” His shots from Jerez, in southern Spain, of the coopering of The Macallan’s beautiful oak casks, are packed with magical moments, as the photographer follows and captures the transformational journey of oak from forest canopy to seasoned cask. “It’s how it gets shaped and moulded into these really artistic, beautiful casks,” he says, “worked on by these incredible craftsmen who mould the wood and shape it.”
From forest to cask
The oak comes from two forest sources – Spain, and the US. Both contribute their essence, with notes of dried fruits, spices and orange from the Spanish oaks, and lighter notes of citrus, vanilla and coconut from the American. Each contributes unique characteristics that play a crucial role in the resulting flavours of The Macallan. It’s a journey of transformation that Steve documents from beginning to end.
“What I admire about The Macallan is that they really have this passion for craftsmanship, for excellence,” he says. “There is an integrity to their process. Sometimes you have to choose the difficult path, the one less taken. Go beyond hardship to reach excellence.”
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