In late 2011, The Macallan embarked on the third edition in The Masters of Photography series. The team involved had one aim: to convey the emotional power of the brand. The challenge was to find a photographer who could capture this together with a character who possessed the authenticity and charisma to deliver it.
There could only be one photographer, Annie Leibovitz, unquestionably the most famous luxury and celebrity photographer in the world. Recipient of many honours, she was designated a Living Legend by the Library of Congress in 2000 and in 2006 was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.
The second challenge was to find the perfect leading man; someone who intrigued and excited Leibovitz but at the same time, was right for The Macallan. The solution was Scottish actor Kevin McKidd, born in Elgin, just 14 miles from The Macallan Distillery on Speyside. As a young man, McKidd worked for Lumsden’s, coppersmith on the very Macallan stills themselves. “Having worked at The Macallan distillery in my youth I remain a Macallan drinker to this day so to be asked by The Macallan to be part of this campaign was a huge honour. Annie Leibovitz is a living legend so to be photographed by her is a once in a lifetime experience.”
Now a TV and film star, the logical place to shoot Kevin was in and around the most glamorous city on earth, New York.
The shoot comprised four shots in extraordinary locations, each depicting a Macallan moment.
Leibovitz commented, “I am the first colour photographer chosen by The Macallan for its Masters of Photography series. Prior to this, I hadn’t realised how complicated and deep the distilling process is. That warmth and richness is what I tried to bring to the photographs.”
A limited edition of 1,000 bottles, four one-off single cask whiskies from The Macallan were each paired with a specific image that graces the bottle itself. Unique and specially commissioned, these four powerful Annie Leibovitz images embody a depth of feeling captured expertly on the shoot.
The historic property of Rokeby, set in the Hudson Valley, was built in 1811 and is famed for its family connections to the one-time richest family in the world, the Astors. This provided a setting rich in heritage suited to a powerful, complex and reflective moment, one to ponder the victories won and the challenges to come.
Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900) was one of the most famous artists of the Hudson River School. Olana, his house overlooking the Catskill mountains and river Hudson in upstate New York, was one of his finest creations. In the opulent setting of this gallery space in Olana, we sense the intensity, sensuality and dark indulgence of The Macallan’s Spanish sherry oak lineage as our leading man and his leading lady share their very own, intimate Macallan moment.
Nestled in the town of Hudson, amongst “a finest dictionary of American architecture in New York State” is the Red Spot Bar. Here Kevin met up with old friends and new friends from the shoot. The mood was upbeat, lively and yet relaxed, providing these friends with a moment in time to savour a glass of The Macallan together.
Tudor City, on the East side of Manhattan, is not only famed as the first residential skyscraper complex in the world but is renowned for some of the finest city skyline views worldwide. As dawn broke over the city, Kevin is seen on the iconic building sign feeling heroic, on top of his game and simply glorying in a glass of The Macallan as his just reward for his endeavours. At this moment, the master of his craft being photographed by the master of photography, Annie Leibovitz.