Bruichladdich 1965 Riserva Veronelli Rinaldi Import Guardians of History: Fratelli Rinaldi

Back to news

It feels like only yesterday we were marvelling at Gordon & MacPhail’s Glenlivet Generations as the world’s oldest single malt Scotch and indeed, it has not taken long for them to hand the baton back to The Macallan distillery in the two company’s seemingly regular exchange of the accolade at present. As it stands, 81 years is the current record set by the announcement of The Reach decanter last month.

Such monumental releases are a time for great reflection. At 81 years, this whisky is older than many distilleries and has outlasted many more. While it is easy to celebrate the impressive cask and warehousing that has preserved such a precious malt, something can only be bottled if someone is left to do so, and it is equally important that we remember those who, knowingly or otherwise, were guardians of history.

In terms of The Macallan, there is one company in Italy whose role cannot ever be underplayed, that of the importer, Fratelli Rinaldi, the portfolio of whom is well-represented in our March Auction. The company was established in Bologna in 1957 and were early champions of Macallan single malt at a time when few others were, including the distillery itself which preferred to license its brand to Elgin-based blender and bottler, Campbell, Hope & King. From the early 1960s until 1980 they bottled an 8 and 12-year-old age statement, as well as a series of seminal and sought-after vintages, the majority of which was imported to Italy by Rinaldi and examples of each from 1950 onward are available in this month’s sale.

With the tide of popularity turning in favour of single malt Scotch, The Macallan assumed responsibility for bottling its own brand in 1980, quickly debuting its premium red-ribbon adorned vintages, the brainchild of then-chairman, Allan Shiach. The brand may now have had new global distribution, but Rinaldi was not forgotten and they received an allocation of each, including its own exclusive bottling for its 25th anniversary, distilled in its founding year and, alongside the others, available in our March auction.

In 1983, Fratelli Rinaldi was purchased by the Buton Group with the Italian contract for Macallan changing to Giovinetti & Figli the following year. The company’s story does not begin and end with one distillery, however. It was also the distributor for Aberlour, importing some legendary vintage 8-year-olds in the early 1970s, and it acquired the Bruichladdich contract from Moon Import in the 1980s, notably shipping the second of the legendary Riserva bottlings for Luigi Veronelli.

Nowadays known as Rinaldi 1957, the company continues to represent Speyside as the agents for Glenfarclas and Tomintoul, however in whisky circles its legacy and name will always be synonymous with The Macallan. The elaborate cradle presented with the distillery’s new 81-year-old is intended to evoke “the many hands that brought this whisky to life,” and there are few who’s fingerprints are etched more indelibly on its history than those of the name, Rinaldi.