Beyond the Horizon: Bentley Motors and The Macallan serve up new single malt

Stepping behind the scenes at Bentley HQ, Tempus delves into design, detail, and the process of a partnership with The Macallan

Positioned at the pinnacle of their industries, The Macallan and Bentley Motors names are synonymous with precision, craft, and sophistication and need little introduction. Ethos aside, the duo’s similarities may seem, at first glance, superficial. Motors and spirits are strange bedfellows.

Yet scratch beneath the surface and the parallels are multitude. Both are British-grown brands with a significant track record. Founded in 1919, Bentley Motors recently celebrated its centenary, while Speyside institution The Macallan marks its 200 anniversary this year. Both focus on exceptional materials – witnessed in the painstaking care behind The Macallan’s all-important sherry-seasoned oak barrels, and the low carbon leather adorning the interior of each Bentley Motor – combined through precision engineering, craft, and innovation.MacallanIt may come as little surprise then that The Macallan and Bentley have joined forces this year, releasing a limited-edition bespoke whisky, Horizon. Rather than a one-off partnership, the release is the first glimpse into the brands’ wider joint universe, which has seen the two behemoths quietly collaborating since 2021.

Journeying with The Macallan to tour behind the scenes at Bentley HQ in Crewe, the commitment to quality and craft is immediately self-evident. From stacks of veneers in 20 species of wood, to hand-selected leather hides in 75 unique colours, customers have a wealth of textures, colours, and patterns to choose from.

Over on the factory floor, we witness hides being hand-selected. Each is manually assessed and chalked up to outline any imperfections, before being scanned using the latest Zünd technology. The machine creates a unique cutting pattern to optimise the consistency of grain, colour, and cut, simultaneously reducing wastage. Elsewhere, we see finely detailed double needle stitching painstakingly hand-applied. Invisible to the untrained eye, miniscule differences in threadwork create a ‘signature’ clear as day to the specialist Bentley team, who can tell at a glance which of their tightknit team of six crafted the stitching on any given piece of leather.

For The Macallan, it is this combination of classic craft and precision engineering which has been brought, translated, and deftly demonstrated in the limited-edition Horizon. With a unique 180-degree twist vessel, the design is striking in its sideways orientation, chosen to reflect the horizontal trajectory of the automotive world. The contemporary housing features recycled copper from The Macallan’s stills and aluminum to signify Bentley’s bodywork – their interactive nature presenting its own design challenge, with elegant leather added to dampen their reactivity.

For the whisky itself, inspired by the scents and sights of Bentley’s historic factory, Master Whisky Maker Kirsteen Campbell returned to Speyside and hand-selected six first-fill sherry-seasoned oak casks. Capturing the essence of a Bentley, and the brand’s HQ, she has crafted a dram rich with ample oak and leather, underpinned by notes of dried fruit, fudge, and The Macallan’s signature spice.Over a celebratory lunch to toast the partnership, The Macallan’s Global Communications Manager, Louise Mulholland, and Bentley’s Head of Product Communications, Mike Sayer, discussed the four year journey to create the Horizon. From a foundation of shared values and vision, it is the brands’ aligned commitment to longevity that Louise feels sets this partnership apart. “We’ve both got skin in the game for the long term. Having a partner that comes with a more long-term view, it’s not a short term fix”. The breathing room this offers provides space to be creative, so there’s no rushing the next release, though undoubtedly there are more bottlings in the offing…

Both echo that “design is the starting point”, but it’s evident this is the mere tip of the iceberg. Each business places people at its heart, evidenced by Bentley’s employment of over 4,000 people in Crewe, many of them father and daughter, father and son, cousins, or brothers. The role the partnership plays within the wider company culture is therefore an essential element.

As Mike expands, the “partnership hasn’t just aligned us centrally – we can sit in our respective headquarters and go ‘this is great’, but if people on the frontline don’t feel the same then it’s not working.” It’s clearly a great source of pride that they do.

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