The Macallan Distillery

Easter Elchies estate


History: The iconic Macallan Distillery was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and, like many distilleries at the time, was built in the original farm buildings of the estate. Originally named after the estate, Elchies distillery, it didn't change to The Macallan until 1980. As with nearly all distilleries, its ownership has changed hands several times over its near 200 years in existence. In 1999, the distillery became part of the Scottish-owned Edrington Group, who are still the current owners. Their vision was to move away from just making single malt for blended whisky brands and start to create a brand of premium single malt to be sold all over the world. Their vision worked, with The Macallan now one of the world’s most sought after and best selling single malts.

The Distillery - After years of planning and almost three years of building, the new Macallan visitor centre officially opens to the public this week. The stunning building has been designed by architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners who created the Leadenhall Building in London and Heathrow Terminal 5. Costing £140 million, the state of the art visitor centre has been built into the landscape’s rolling hills. The design of the timber structure has also been crowned as one of the world’s most complicated, comprised of 1800 single beams, 2,500 different roof elements and 380,000 individual components. Inside you will not find your usual whisky distillery either, far from it, this place is epic in every sense of the word. They have taken every aspect of a whisky tour and amplified it enormously. With output having tripled as well, the design is not merely a case of style over substance.

Why visit? I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of this incredible new distillery. For me, this is a total game changer in the world of whisky. It’s hard to describe the new visitor centre as it is like no where I have been before but if I had to, I would liken it more to a walk through the Tate Modern than a distillery in the Scottish Highlands. Tours will kick off this week, which I would imagine will be packed out with every whisky geek making the pilgrimage to cast their eyes over what they have created here. The team have also partaken in some of the most intensive training to ensure that not only does the venue look stunning, but the knowledge and experience you benefit from is first class. If you have some extra time then get yourself to the bar with the best bartenders in The Highlands creating wonderful cocktails with The Macallan.

Interesting fact: Last month two bottles of rare Macallan were sold to a private collector for US$600,000 each, which almost matches another world record held by The Macallan for the most expensive single bottle of whisky sold at auction. The two extremely rare bottles of The Macallan 1926 featured labels commissioned by artists Sir Peter Blake and Valerio Adami, the whisky itself is The Macallan 1926, which was distilled in 1926 then aged for 60 years in Sherry-seasoned oak barrels before being bottled and released in 1986.

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