The Macallan unveils its new Distillery

May 30, 2018
Bartenders Corner I

Edrington, the international premium spirits company, has revealed the new distillery and visitor experience for The Macallan.

The new distillery and visitor experience are located on the stunning Easter Elchies estate, which has been home to the leading luxury single malt since 1824. From humble beginnings, the brand has risen to become the leading international single malt by value and enjoys leading positions in some of the world’s most significant Scotch whisky markets including The USA, Taiwan, and Japan.

It is the first distillery in Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who was selected to lead the project after an international competition.

Edrington is investing £500 million in the brand of which the £140 million distillery is the centrepiece. This programme increases investment in whisky, warehousing, and particularly in The Macallan’s signature sherry-seasoned oak casks.

The project was announced in 2012 and the build began in December 2014. The first whisky ran through the stills in December last year and the visitor experience will open its doors to the public on 2nd June. It is expected that visitor numbers will double in the first year and continue to rise thereafter.

The new distillery will enable the production of The Macallan to increase by a third if required. The new stills were crafted by Scottish coppersmiths Forsyths, who have been making the brand’s distinctive, ‘curiously small’ stills for The Macallan since the 1950s.

Elgin-based Robertson Construction has delivered the complex architectural design, working with 25 contractors to bring the vision for the new distillery and visitor experience to life. During construction, up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades were employed on site.

The striking piece of contemporary architecture is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building whilst minimising the visual impact on the Speyside landscape, which has been classified as an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’.

The undulating timber roof structure is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components.

Ian Curle, Chief Executive, Edrington, said: “This is an exciting occasion for Edrington and The Macallan. The unsurpassed quality of The Macallan is in high demand and we face the future confidently with this new distillery. It’s an authentic, abiding, ambitious investment that will match consumer expectations for generations to come.

When the doors open in June, we expect this new Macallan enterprise to deliver significant benefits for the tourism industry, Scotch whisky exports, and the economy.”

Ken Grier, Creative Director, The Macallan, said: “As The Macallan has grown globally it has been very important that we make sure we can sustain demand for this wonderful amber liquid. We’ve taken exceptional care in making sure that the spirit that is produced in the new distillery is identical to the spirit that we produced in our previous distillery. This is the beginning of a really exciting new chapter in the evolution of this wonderful brand that is The Macallan.”

Graham Stirk, Senior Partner and Lead Architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners commented: “The Macallan estate truly is a special place; a place we have come to love and respect hugely. The vision was always ambitious, but this enabled us to challenge our own thinking to create something so dramatic and awe-inspiring. It has been an honour to play our part in shaping the next chapter for The Macallan.”

The Macallan New Distillery and Visitor Experience Facts and Figures

The people

Up to 400 workers on site at one time, representing 20 different trades.

Over 3 million hours on site without a loss time accident (where someone is off work for more than 7 days).

Various nationalities involved. Inductions in four languages; Polish, Lithuanian, Bulgarian, Austrian.

The structure

Length: 120m north to south, 68m east to west. Height at highest point 24m. Reception to the peak of dome 18m.

The roof

Made up of 380,000 individual components including 2,500 triangles, each of which comprises 50 different parts.

Over 14,000sqm of turf used. Structure tested in over 160 different load conditions to understand movement.

Due to the geometry of the building, Wiehag developed a bespoke parametric model where everything interlinked.

Vapour control and resi-flex-waterproofing which is bespoke to work with the movement of the roof. The roof is insulated to protect the meadow from becoming too dry.

Irrigation system takes water from the River Spey to stop turf from drying out in the summer months. Full irrigation and lighting protection system in place.

Construction and materials

800 tonnes of structural steel used. 500mm diameter steel tubes with a wall thickness of 40mm. Pioneering GPS technology used for excavation.

Wood from Scandinavia, sanded in Germany, shipped to Austria for assembly and then moved to Scotland.

Briggs lauter tun running a 17-tonne mash. Glass used is 60mm thick. Glass fins were redesigned away from the steel to keep the vista.

Concrete polished in Belgium by Decomo, the only concrete polishers that had tables large enough to polish the panels, which are up to 5m in radius.

There was a need to separate the distillery and visitor experience with a with a two-hour fire wall. The largest glass wall available was up to 5m, therefore a bespoke 10m high glass wall had to be constructed. The component parts were individually certified and assembled, and then set on fire to demonstrate the wall complied with the two-hour fire rating.


398 archive bottles, 9 decanters and 9 flasks on display in the Jewel Box.

3,275 sample bottles displayed on the natural colour wall.

Click here to view The Macallan Australian range of whiskies.

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