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New whisky experience

Macallan takes wraps off £140m distillery ‘cathedral’

Ian Curle

Ian Curle: ‘There is something spiritual about it’ (photo by Terry Murden)


Whisky company Edrington has taken the wraps off its state-of-the-art distillery on Speyside, the centrepiece of a £500 million investment in the Macallan brand.

The £140m distillery has been built into the hillside, to hide its 18 metre height and has a grass-topped undulating roof that allows it to blend into the picturesque landscape on the Easter Elchies estate, which has been home to the malt since 1824.

It has one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components.

Ian Curle, chief executive of Glasgow-based Edrington, said: “It is cathedral-like. There is something spiritual about it.”

The undulating building is constructed on a hillside (contributed)

Macallan distillery entrance

Entrance, with long walkway and wall in polished concrete (photo by Terry Murden)


Built near the village of Craigellachie, a village in Moray at the confluence of the River Spey and River Fiddich, the giant development was designed by international architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. It was built by Elgin-based Robertson Construction which worked with 25 contractors on the project for three and a half years.

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 to the public on 2 June. It will employ 60 staff and vsitor numbers are expected to double in the first year.

During construction, up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 trades were employed on site.

Ian Curle by gallery archive

Ian Curle by the gallery archive tracing the history of the brand. Members of staff were each invited to position one of the 398 bottles (photo by Terry Murden)

Ian Curle with enormous stills

The distillery will allow production to increase by a third (photo by Terry Murden)


The distillery will enable 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.

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 US, Taiwan, and Japan.

Mr Curle added: “This is an exciting occasion for Edrington and The Macallan. 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.

Alison Warrender of the Macallan communications team examines some of the 3,000+ bottles in the natural colour wall (photo by Terry Murden)


“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. It has been an honour to play our part in shaping the next chapter for The Macallan.”

Scott McCroskie and Ian Curle in bar

Scott McCroskie, managing director, The Macallan, and Ian Curle  (photo by Terry Murden)

Ian Curle with sherry casks in the visitor centre (photo by Terry Murden)

Machinery exposed beneath the stills…the space could be used to increase production (contributed)

Scott McCroskie and Ian Curle

Scott McCroskie and Ian Curle in exhibition area (photo by Terry Murden)

The building is 120 metres long (photo by Terry Murden)
Scott McCroskie

Scott McCroskie and the still room (photo by Terry Murden)

The distillery from the air: only visible on the left as a series of landscaped humps (photo by Terry Murden)

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