It took a £140 million investment, up to 400 people specialising in over 20 different trades, and three years and six months to complete — but the new Macallan distillery will finally be open to public viewing this 2nd June 2018.
Set in the Speyside region and a mere 400 metres away from its existing distillery, the new Macallan distillery on the Easter Elchies estate is a mammoth project — a centrepiece of owner Edrington’s £500 million investment. It’s well worth the money, as the new distillery and visitor experience building will enable the production of The Macallan to increase by a third if necessary, as well as create over 60 additional job opportunities.
More than just a distillery that will increase production, the visitor experience is also one worth mentioning. Like most brewers and distillery tours, it is limited to only a small group of people in one session — 12, for this particular one. Designed especially to enhance the experience, the huge visitor’s centre has interactive pillars showcasing The Macallan’s brand history, a moving glass sculpture, and a collection of over 398 bottles on display.
The new Macallan distillery is also a contemporary architectural powerhouse. It cuts into the slope of the land, maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape. While most have described its iconic roof as “curvy”, it is actually a triangulated metric of grids. There’s more to the interesting roof than meets the eye, which you will soon find out. Read on for more things you didn’t know about The Macallan distillery and visitor experience.
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The roof of the new Macallan distillery is not just aesthetically good looking — it’s also one of the most complicated timber structures in the world. It is made up of 1,800 single beams, 2,500 different roof elements, and 380,000 individual components, almost none of which are equal or the same.
The new Macallan distillery is the first distillery in Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Senior partner and lead architect Graham Stirk envisioned the new distillery to be cut into the slope of the land. This idea was inspired by ancient Scottish hills, which will maximise the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape.
36 new copper stills will be installed in the new Macallan distillery. It’s worth noting that the stills in the new distillery are the exact same shape, size and lyne arm orientation as those used in the previous distillery. The stills are made by Forsyths, Scottish coppersmiths that have been making The Macallan’s signature “curiously small” stills since the 1950s. Also, the pots are still hand beaten — techniques passed down from their forefathers.
The new distillery is not just a modern architectural feat — it also plays its part on eco-sustainability. A whopping 95% of the energy consumed in the distillery and visitor experience will be from renewable sources.
At a glance, the building looks like a hill with glass windows. It utilises local stone and timber — even the roof has grass on it, suggesting a living meadow. The landscaping design not only evokes the environment and ingredients of whisky production but also provides an atmospheric journey for visitors. All natural senses of the visitors are in tune, bringing them closer to The Macallan whisky making process.