Macallan has recently announced its new travel retail series: The Macallan Colour Collection. As such, it may be time to say goodbye to its predecessor: The Macallan Quest Series. So, as these bottles disappear from airport shelves, it is worth seeking them out in auction?
There are four bottles in the Macallan Quest collection. These are:
- Macallan Quest, 70cl, 40% ABV
- Macallan Lumina, 70cl, 41.3% ABV
- Macallan Terra, 70cl, 43.8% ABV
- Macallan Engima, 70cl, 44.9% ABV
The collection was announced in 2017 and rolled out exclusively for travel retail in 2018, replacing the 1824 collection. The collection was created to celebrate Macallan’s search for the very best oak for their casks.
The Macallan Quest is the namesake of the series, and represents the beginning of Macallan’s journey to source the best oak from which to fashion their casks.
According to the Macallan website, a number of cask types were used to make this expression: “American bourbon casks are combined with hand-picked sherry seasoned European and American oak casks, and hogsheads”. “Hogsheads”?…What kind of hogsheads? Seems a bit strange to specify the cask size but not the cask type.
The Macallan Quest originally retailed for $64. As of the time of writing, the record auction price for a standard bottle (not a gift set bottle) is £231 in August 2023. However, auction prices are currently hovering around £70-£90. With over 230 results for this bottle in 2023 alone, it is not exactly surprising that the auction prices are stagnating. There are so many of these bottles on the market, and so little opportunity for increased rarity. After all, who buys Macallan to drink?
The Macallan Lumina represents the direction of Macallan’s journey to find the best oak for their casks, from Europe to America. Are we seeing a theme here?
Much like the Quest, the Lumina was matured in “sherry-seasoned American & European oak, & hogsheads”…What kind of hogsheads?!
The Original RRP for this bottle was $100. It has not appeared quite as many times as the Quest at auction: just over 180 so far in 2023. However, the Lumina has lost value at auction in comparison to its original RRP. The prices are currently between £70 and £120.
Next up is the Macallan Terra. This bottle apparently represents “the story of discovery through a complex, yet balanced single malt, matured in exceptional sherry seasoned oak casks, whose journey spans 10,000 miles”.
Despite the apparent emphasis on the casks, there seem to be conflicting reports on which casks were used to mature the Terra. ScotchWhisky.com says that, for maturation of the Terra, “Casks are exclusively first-fill sherry seasoned casks from the Tevasa and Vasyma families of wood suppliers from Jerez de la Frontera”. According to Macallan, the Terra was matured in first-fill American Oak casks “from two of the most distinguished family cooperages”. So, which is it, sherry seasoned or first-fill American oak? Who owns the cooperages? And where did these conflicting reports come from?
The original retail price for the Terra was $165. Around 120 bottles have been sold in 2023 alone, with the prices hovering around £110-£160, following a record price of £371 in February 2018.
Lastly, we have the Macallan Enigma which represents the pinnacle of the Quest Collection journey. This whisky was matured in sherry-seasoned oak casks from Jerez de la Frontera. The packaging displays the cross-section of an oak tree, paying homage to the casks that mature Macallan whisky.
Originally, the Enigma was retailed for $250. The record price for a single bottle was achieved in February 2018 at £394. Today, the auction price is hovering around £170-£280.
Are The Macallan Quests Worth Investing In?
Looking at the auction data for each bottle, the largest annual shift in pricing is for the Terra, which has seen a +2% average annual shit from 2018-2023. This is still a very small margin, and the auction prices of today are coming back down.
Logically, investing in the Quest series would be a risky investment. Not because there is a distinct lack of data, but because there is so much of it. The market is saturated with NAS Macallan. As mentioned above, nobody buys Macallan to drink anymore. People buy Macallan (or at least modern Macallans) to flip. The market is flooded with NAS Macallans, prices shoot up for a short time, and then they plateau. There is no rarity, scarcity, vintage, or age statement factor driving the prices of these bottles, so if you are looking for a big profit, these probably aren’t the bottles for you.
In fact, the Macallan Quest Collection is the perfect example of how Macallan has marketed itself as luxury, to the point where people will buy no age statement, non-vintage bottlings with no indication of a limited run almost without question. It is Macallan, so it must be good right? Well, not exactly.
This is not to question the quality of Macallan’s whisky; they certainly make fantastic single malts. However, releasing NAS bottles means that the whisky in the bottles may be as young as three years old. So, Macallan is making a decent profit off of incredibly young spirit.
In addition to this, the marketing around the Quest Collection is interesting. The explanation of what each bottle “represents” is quite vague. Lots of mentions of “journeys” and “casks” but an apparent reluctance to specify which casks were used in some cases. It gives the air of something that was thrown together, as opposed to carefully crafted. However, the packaging is very well presented and thought through. This, I suppose, is a credit to Macallan’s growth over the years. The reputation of the distillery is so steadfast that NAS releases like this still command a premium.