The Macallan unveils state-of-the-art distillery in Speyside

Words by
Lisa Barnard

3rd September 2018

The Macallan's recently-refurbished Speyside distillery offers an extraordinary visitors' experience with gleaming copper stills and delightful whisky tastings

There are moments in history when a brand does something extraordinary. A moment when you witness a turning point in a brand’s journey and it sends a shiver down your spine. Or rather, a hairpin bend, where the experience is exhilarating, but you stay in the same vehicle. A moment when the powers of imagination, technical achievement and storytelling have come together to create an entity and an experience. Such a moment was the unveiling of the new The Macallan distillery. 

The Macallan has done something audacious yet practical. The new distillery and visitor centre in Speyside combines a state-of-the-art home for the making of its whisky and, importantly, for visiting. On the Easter Elchies estate, The Macallan is not exactly on the trodden track for Scottish tourism, but it is now set to become a destination for everyone with a sense of style and discovery. Champagne houses were the first to combine the maker and visitor experience. The Macallan blows them out of the water.

The Macallan Sepyside photographed by Mark Power/ Magnum Photos
The Macallan Sepyside photographed by Mark Power/ Magnum Photos

The Macallan Sepyside photographed by Mark Power/ Magnum Photos

The brand’s owner, the Edrington Group, has spent £140m on creating the facility. No small sum for canny Scots, especially owned by a charitable trust, so they are serious about this. How? First, the vision to create something spectacular. A determined Ian Curle, Chief Executive, Scott McCroskie, Managing Director, and Ken Grier, Creative Director, wished to create a future-proof platform for the brand — which has nearly 200 years of heritage since 1824 — and leapfrog over competitors into the realm of a world-class luxury brand.

Their ambition is to offer an immersive experience, giving something back to customers, given product is in short supply, opening the door to the next generation.

Second, a first-class team: architects Rogers Stirk Harbour, local firm Robertson Construction, still-makers Forsyth and wacky Austrian roof specialist, Wihag. The latter created one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world: 380,000 individual components, shipped from Austria, compiled like a gigantic puzzle. 

The undulating roof blends seamlessly into the landscape
The undulating roof blends seamlessly into the landscape

The undulating roof blends seamlessly into the landscape

The exterior is a low-slung, undulating structure, blending seamlessly into the landscape. Inside is a voyage of discovery, from the towering glass wall of Macallan bottles to the futuristic stills. 

A perfect setting for a future James Bond movie — thrill, kill and licensed to swill.