Home Run

Luxury Insider gets a first-hand look of The Macallan distillery’s makeover of the century


Under manicured pastures on undulating hills, a structure of glass and metal beams ebbs and flows to the swelling top – the wave-like timber roof separating the works of nature and man. Though spanning a monstrous 14,800sqm, the property itself is completely buried into the ground; so from a bird’s eye view, the Scottish fields run on for miles undisturbed. This isn’t – as some of the brand’s upper management would jokingly say – Teletubby Land – it’s The Macallan’s newest distillery and visitor centre, a project that cost GBP140million and a build time of four years.


Though it remains in the vicinity of the whisky’s Georgian-style spiritual home, against the bank of River Spey – where The Macallan gets its water for its tipples and an area famous for whisky-making, the property is a far cry from what’d we imagine a 194-year-old distillery would look like. It like a space ship, immaculate and industrious: copper stills are perfectly aligned against mash tuns; ceilings reach sky high; spotless glass panelling line the exteriors and railings; and on preview night, a lightshow spanning the entirety of the façade could pass for any Coachella performance.

Having begun construction in December 2014, the new building was realised by internationally-acclaimed architect and the brains behind Centre Pompidou, Guggenheim Helsinki and London’s The LeadenHall Building, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who were selected to lead The Macallan project after an international competition. The piece-de-resistance took up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades.


Practically, the new distillery allows The Macallan to increase production by a third if needed, which is likely, given the increasing global stardom of single malt whiskies in the luxury market, especially among the younger generation. According to HM Revenue and Customs, the value of whisky exports totalled £4.36bn last year, a figure equivalent to 1.23bn bottles exported globally and 20 per cent of all of UK’s food and drink exports.


And in the list of acclaimed whisky labels, The Macallan is a holy grail as it a household name. Its tipples range from affordable 10-year-old bottles, to special-editions made in collaboration with cross-industry superstars like celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz, French crystal-maker Lalique and Spanish culinary geniuses Roca Brothers. In 2017, it topped its own record by selling a million cases in a single year. So to say it has been struggling to keep up with global demand is an understatement – a notion that got The Macallan creative director Ken Grier thinking about ripping up the rulebook and going for a spaceship-cum-Hobbit Land behemoth of a distillery.

“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.”


The visitor centre is laced throughout the distillery itself; and Grier made sure it, too, looked uber-futuristic. To the right of the entrance is an expansive gift shop where rare collectibles are sold, such as The Macallan-inspired scented candles especially made by renowned British perfumer Roja Dove; replicas of the brand’s famously small stills; and countless books on whisky making. To the left is The Macallan Archive, home to special editions and packaging of yesteryears dating all the way back to the original bottle in 1841.


Upstairs is divided into a 360-degree bar and interactive stations whereby guests can feel how proud The Macallan is of the characteristics that make it the golden child of single malts – the Six Pillars. These include The Finest Cut, Curiously Small Stills, Natural Colour, Exceptional Oak Casks, Peerless Spirit and The Spiritual Home – all of which are exemplified by touch screens, moving mechanisms fitted with Lalique crystals, shadow play, rotating panels and, of course, a crew of knowledgeable ambassadors that ensure the experience is akin to touring Willy Wonka’s factory.


There’s perhaps no other industry that takes as much pride in making history as that of the single malt. The Macallan’s hefty project is refreshingly daring and nothing short of ground-breaking among its peers. While we enjoyed the press tour, the distillery and visitor centre has been receiving guests from the general public since June 2. Tours take approximately 90 minutes and can be booked in advance on its website.

For more updates, visit campaign.luxury-insider.com/themacallan/



Copyright © www.luxury-insider.com
Luxury-insider.com is part of the SPH Magazines Luxury Network