The whisky virgin

Four Colours Macallan


Our resident Whisky Virgin is a simple creature who loves order, hierarchy and clear signposting. So Macallan’s colour-coded 1824 Series should be manna from heaven, right? Well, sort of…

Macallan's 'colours' range
Hue's better, hue's best: Macallan's colourful language (Illustration: Tony Felstead)

I have to confess that I am a mainly literal person. I make my choices based on colour, shape, surface. I don’t care to delve. I have the tastebuds of a small child. The blurb is my preferred literary form. Seeing is believing. I am a brander’s wet dream.

Which is why I was excited by Macallan’s colour-based 1824 Series, released in 2012. You know about this, I think, so I’ll be quick: they are Gold, Amber, Sienna and Ruby. They get better from left to right. So the darker they are, the nicer they taste.

Only, from what I understand, for many an old fan of Macallan, this kind of thinking is an abomination. Colour is not how to tell a great whisky.

Macallan disagrees. Colour coding has, it says, a scientific base, and it has used it to order its Sherried whiskies for years. Three years later and nothing’s changed. It’s Asterix and Obelix versus the Romans.

All this is way above me. It’s been tricky as it is, now that everyone’s calling their whiskies after gods and traditions and emotions and whatnot.

I know that it’s my taste that counts, that it’s all about me, but remember who I am. I like being told. I like order. I love numbers. I worship hierarchy: 10 (Nice), 12 (Fine), 15 (Good), 18 (Great), 21 (Excellent) and so on.

Being told that dark is better than light is a revelation. No more confusion. I look, I buy. Please, say nothing more.     

On which note, head of communications at Macallan: the names.


Gold, Amber, Sienna, Ruby. It’s the work of a Pantone obsessive. You wouldn’t know this, but Sienna’s the name of an old girlfriend. You may know it’s a safari lodge in East Africa. You must know it’s a car, otherwise known as the Swagger Wagon.

Ruby is the title of a Kaiser Chiefs song and a programming language.

Amber was ranked only number 63 in the top 100 favourite girls’ names for 2012.

Gold is dull.

Your copywriter’s been spending way too much time in Homebase.

See, if you’re going visual, and quality is all in the eye, then, please, go the whole damn bloody hog. I’m buying whisky, not painting my hall. Tear up the swatch book. Speak to me.

Say it like it is: Orangey, Orange, Oranger, Orangest.

Scroll To Top