If you drink on Wall Street, you must (at some point) drink scotch. If you care about scotch, you must have a brand. This is a topic over which many of the most staid bankers in the world are willing to come to blows, but general consensus is Macallan is ridiculously good scotch.
This kind of agreement on Wall Street, ladies and gentlemen, is rare. So we had to get to the bottom of who makes Macallan, how, and why exactly it’s become such a heavy favourite?
To do that, we talked to Paul Ross, the CEO and President of Edrington Americas. It’s the new, U.S. branch of Edrington International, the company that owns Macallan, charged with making their portfolio more popular in the United States.
It’s a recent push, and Ross, a Scottish former CPA with an easy smile and thick brogue, seems like a solid choice for it. Business Insider sat down in his office, he poured out some Macallan, and we got straight to the business of his business.
“People aren’t’ drinking more, they’re drinking better,” he said, especially in the United States.
Edrington, which is owned by the largest charity in Scotland, The Robertson Trust, has had success in markets like Asia and Africa.
Where big companies like Pernod Ricard are heading east to conquer new markets, Edrington has to head west to the United States, where 40% of the world’s premium spirits are consumed.
“This is about the next decade for us because we’re investing $US200 million in the Macallan estate,” Ross said.
The fact that his company is owned for a non-profit, he added, allows them to take long term views like that. Edrington is focused not on the next quarter or even year, but on the next 20 years.
That’s why Macallan uses no artificial colouring and is aged in sherry oak casks that cost ten times the bourbon casks many scotch distillers use. Seventy per cent of the flavour in your glass comes from that wood.
When a bottle of 12-year can cost you upwards of $US70, it had better.
Edrington takes a different approach to marketing as well. At this point, you’re not going to see a Macallan commercial. The company has always relied on word of mouth, which has been amplified by the power of social media in recent years, and Edrington is looking to promote the brand by engaging people through experiences — events and partnerships with brands like Bentley and Montblanc. These are memories that people can keep and share with others.
“People make the story for us,” said Ross. “We do some advertising, but it’s always back to the product, back to the hero.”
That being said, we had to ask Ross which of those products is his own personal hero.
“If it’s my money, Macallan 18 on the rocks.”
You heard it here first, people.
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