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Edrington creates Macallan ‘Cathedral of Whisky’ visitor experience, Scotland

The Macallan distillery and whisky visitor experience

Edrington has unveiled a £150 million new distillery and Macallan visitor experience at Craigellachie in Speyside, Scotland.

The new centre, located on the Easter Elchies estate takes centre stage in the £500m investment in the iconic whisky brand. The Macallan has been described as the ‘Rolls Royce’ of Scottish whisky and has enjoyed supporting roles in everything from James Bond movies to TV shows like Suits.

The distillery and visitor centre has been designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the architects responsible for London’s Heathrow Terminal 5 and the Leadenhall Building. It took three years to construct and is touted to win awards for its striking design. The building took its visual cues from ancient Scottish earthworks. Its undulating roof (which boasts more than 380,000 individual components) has been turned into a Scottish wildflower meadow. Five ‘peaks’ represent the rolling hills of the area, and the building melts seamlessly into the surrounding countryside.

Its sustainability credentials are impressive. In a report by The ScotsmanIan Curle, chief executive of Edrington says that over 95 percent of the energy used will come from renewables. “The Macallan Distillery is an investment for the future,” he says. “So it has to be future proofed, and the sustainability of the site is vital to that.”

Elgim-based Robertson Construction was responsible for delivering the ambitious and complex project. They worked with 25 contractors and up to 400 people specializing in more than 20 trades were involved on site.

The distillery has 36 locally made new copper stills and 21 stainless steel washbacks. A wide variety of visual and interactive displays help visitors understand the production process of the whisky. There is also a bar, dining area and coffee shop. Visitors can take a 40-minute guided tour with numbers limited to 12 people at a time to make the experience more personal.

The massive investment in the project reflects the buoyant nature of the Scottish whisky industry. Whisky is exported around the world but also draws in massive numbers of visitors to Scotland. Over 1.7 million tourists visited last year (an increase of eight percent on 2015). Nearly half Scotland’s distilleries are now open to the public and Diageo have recently announced a £150 million investment in a new Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA says the new Macallan distillery is “a great statement of confidence in the Macallan brand and in the future of Scotch whisky. This reflects an industry in growth.”

The new distillery will allow production of The Macallan to increase by a third. “This is an exciting occasion for Edrington and The Macallan,” says Curle. “We face the future confidently with this new distillery. 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.”

The visitor experience will open to the public on June 2nd 2018.

Image: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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