A true collectible: The Macallan concept No. 3 was inspired by the shared outlooks and methodologies of graphic designer David Carson and The Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan

The Macallan has launched a travel retail exclusive called Concept No.3, a collaboration with renowned American graphic designer David Carson.

The single malt whisky will be launched initially at The Macallan boutiques in selected airports and in Hainan offshore duty free locations from July. A global travel retail roll-out will follow in August.

The Macallan Concept No. 3 is the third and final release in The Macallan Concept Series, a limited-edition range of annual whisky releases that combines the artistry and expertise of The Macallan’s whisky-making with creativity and culture.

Edrington Regional Global Travel Retail Managing Director Jeremy Speirs said: “The Macallan Concept series has resonated strongly with global shoppers looking for something different and collectible in the single malt category.

“We’re delighted to introduce the third and final release in this travel retail exclusive series, partnering with David Carson to deliver a truly standout launch which builds on The Macallan’s reputation in travel retail for excitement and flair.”

Concept No. 3 is part of a wider collaboration between The Macallan and Carson, who also designed the brand’s festive campaign in 2020.

Carson visited The Macallan’s 485-acre estate in Speyside, Scotland, where he spent time with The Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan. Their meeting brought a remarkable number of creative similarities to light and served as the inspiration for both the whisky and the bottle design.

Concept No. 3 features Carson’s striking handmade collage designs with some special references to his and Logan’s shared outlooks and methodologies. It also features the letter ‘P’ for Polly. The colour palette used in the bottle design reflects the same blue tones as the River Spey and the red hues of The Macallan’s sherry-seasoned oak casks.

Meanwhile, Logan took inspiration from Carson’s career to develop an unusually fresh whisky. The liquid boasts a distinctively Californian golden hue, paying tribute to the graphic designer’s time on the West Coast.

The expression was developed specifically to 40.8% ABV after both Carson and Logan discovered that eight was their respective favourite number. It was crafted to deliver complex sweet and spicy flavours from predominantly first-fill sherry-seasoned American oak casks, enhanced by European oak casks that add depth and richness. Its balance and freshness are achieved by specially selected refills and virgin oak casks.

The Macallan Whisky Maker Polly Logan: A dram for whisky aficionados and art lovers alike

On the nose, Concept No. 3 balances sweet notes of fresh pear and apricot with gentle oak spice, warm cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and sweet citrus. On the palate, it combines fresh apple and pear with oak spice and delicate herbal notes. It ends with a smooth, buttery and subtly sweet finish.

Carson, also a professional surfer, was born in Texas in 1954 and began his creative career as a magazine designer. In the 1990s, he was at the helm of Ray Gun magazine, where his experimental layouts and pioneering typography techniques revolutionised the graphic design world.

Carson displayed his work at numerous prestigious graphic design shows and is a recipient of the AIGA Gold Medal, one of design’s highest accolades.

Since establishing his own design studio, Carson has collaborated with some of the world’s leading brands including Nike, Levi’s, Pepsi and Ray Ban. He is among only two graphic designers to be shortlisted by Apple as part of its ‘30 Most Innovative Users’ list.

A chevron label, bearing David Carson’s signature, decorates the striking bottle. The P illustrated on the inside of the case represents Polly Logan. 

Commenting on his ongoing partnership with The Macallan, Carson said: “In some of The Macallan work, I very noticeably got into what I call ‘my zone’, where I was just clicking. It was all coming together so I’m not aware of time, or even where I am.

“The Macallan people I’ve dealt with have been so open to exploring new ideas and to different types of creativity. Their obvious love for nature and where they work, the hand-doneness and the wooden casks — you have so much of that with The Macallan collaboration and I am very proud of it.”

Logan added, “It’s been an absolute joy to work with David Carson on the creation of Concept No. 3. I was deeply inspired by his vibrancy, and drew on this to create a bright, fresh whisky. Its pale yellow colour, which we’ve named Californian Gold, reflects David’s sun-soaked days as a surfer and it also reveals the citrus notes which shine through.

“Whisky and art fans alike will appreciate the fine balance achieved in this wonderfully uplifting expression, combining fruity notes of pear with warming cinnamon spice and a creamy, vanilla sweetness.”

The Macallan Concept No. 3 whisky comes in a handsome case decorated with Carson’s unique designs. Each bottle also features labelling designed by Carson with a distinctive chevron symbol bearing his signature.

The launch will be supported by an O2O creative social media and digital campaign which aims to engage with consumers pre-trip and attract them during their travels with several eye-catching in-store activations.

The Concept Series began with Concept No. 1 released in 2017 and inspired by surreal art. Concept No. 2 brought together the worlds of music and whisky, combining the twin passion of The Macallan Whiskey Maker Steven Brenner who is also a DJ.

(Left) The Concept No. 1; (Centre) The Concept No. 2 with Steven Brenner ; (Right) The Concept No. 3 with David Carson