New £140m distillery springs into life

Whisky maker Edrington has taken the wraps off its multi-million-pound distillery and visitor experience centre for The Macallan malt.

The design is cut into the slope of the land taking its cues from the hills. Picture: Ian Gavan
The design is cut into the slope of the land taking its cues from the hills. Picture: Ian Gavan

The new facility is located on the Easter Elchies estate, which has been home to the single malt since 1824.

The Macallan brand has risen to become the leading international single malt by value and enjoys top positions in some of the world’s most significant Scotch whisky markets including the US, Taiwan, and Japan.

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

The ambitious 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 2 June. It is expected that visitor numbers will double in the first year and continue to rise.

The distillery is the first on Speyside to be designed by acclaimed architectural practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, which was selected to lead the project after an international competition.

Elgin-based Robertson Construction 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 trades were employed on site.

The new distillery will enable production of The Macallan to increase by a third if required, Edrington noted. The stills were crafted by Scottish coppersmith Forsyths, which has been making the brand’s distinctive, “curiously small” stills for the brand since the 1950s.

The striking design is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and “maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building” while “minimising the visual impact” on the Speyside landscape, the firm added. The timber roof structure comprises 380,000 individual components.

Ian Curle, chief executive of 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.”

Graham Stirk, partner and lead architect, said: “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.”

Some 60 new jobs are set to be created on the back of the investment. Graham Hutcheon, MD group operations at Edrington, added: “The successful construction of this exciting new distillery and visitor experience has been made possible through hard work, commitment, innovation and collaboration.”