The Macallan distillery is a unique and magical place in the Speyside area that everyone should try and visit if in the area. If you are reading this post then it is likely you know the prominence of The Macallan as a Whisky brand within the market and their distillery doesn’t disappoint as you will find out below!
The History of The Macallan
The company was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid who was a teacher and a barley farmer and was one of the first legally licensed distilleries in Scotland. Interestingly, the name Macallan derived from two original Gaelic words with the first being ‘Magh’, which means fertile land. The second was ‘Ellan’ which was part of a monk’s name who was spreading the word of Christianity in the area.
Over the years the Macallan changed hand several times and after one such change, the distillery was named the ‘Elchies’ distillery after the farm that controlled it until the early 1980s. In 1999 the Edrington group bought the distillery and are still the owners today. Edrington owns several other well-known brands such as Highland Park, The Glenrothes and The Famous Grouse.
This video from The Macallan showcases the brand and gives you a feel for what they stand for.
The distillery itself is hard to describe, a subterranean building that looks like a concept from a science fiction novel. The entire project was designed to have little impact on the surrounding area as you can see with the grass-covered roof ensuring the complex blends in harmoniously with the surroundings.
Construction started in 2014 and was completed in 2018, with the total cost coming in at £140 million pounds making it the most advanced distillery in the world. The design was undertaken by a London based architect who also worked on the Millennium Dome. The distillery layout is circular and contains 36 copper stills (15 or so more than their previous facility) allowing production to be significantly increased.
The roof is a marvel of engineering constructed out of Scandinavian spruce that slots together perfectly without the use of nails or glue. Imagine a giant Jigsaw puzzle with the weight of a garden on top! The building has been designed to move if required in support of the roof, this is critical if heavy snow or a violent storm occurred in the area.
Interestingly, the site contains a mash tun weighing in at 17 tonnes which might just be the largest in the whole of Scotland.
The new facility is capable of producing around 15 million litres per year which should go some way in satisfying global demand after the brand has seen consistent growth over recent years.
The Macallan distillery is just as impressive inside as it is outside. You walk into a space that can only be described as cavernous and knowing it’s all dedicated to Whisky; you’re bound to feel the excitement right off the bat! The first thing you’ll notice is the rather impressive collection of Macallan fine Whisky on the left-hand side, I’ve included a photo below which probably does a better job than trying to visualise it with words. To the right is a boutique where you can buy (and try) a selection of Macallan whiskies. The boutique has a limited range of other branded merchandise from glassware to notebooks.
Upstairs you’ll find a bar and the main distillery is located straight ahead.
The wall contains many rare and special Whiskys that Macallan refer to as their archive, and some are on display for the very first time. It contains close to 400 bottles and includes various decanters and flasks that have been released over the years. For me, this was the highlight of the visit and I found myself immersed in the collection for quite some time. I’d recommend a trip here out of holiday season so you’re able to take your time without the display being too crowded.
You will notice some of the bottles are higher up and you might be wondering how to get up close and personal, especially if some of the rare and valuable bottles are placed at the top of the display. This, of course, has all been designed to perfection! There is a camera system attached to a screen which you can easily move around the collection for a close-up and detailed view.
The Macallan Bar
If you are planning a trip to the Macallan then I highly recommend joining a tour or going with a family member that’s happy to drive. You really don’t want to miss out on the opportunity for a tasting!
The bar is situated one floor up and features large glass windows with incredible views over the rolling hills far in the distance. As you would expect, the bar is fully loaded with over 900 different Whiskys to try with the oldest dating back 70 years. Whilst sipping on a dram you can take in the glass wall surrounding the bar which contains hundreds of bottles distilled over centuries.
There’s a selection of different tours on offer designed to suit all sorts of budgets which are informative and will immerse you into the rich history of The Macallan. Booking in advance is the safest option as tours are popular and sell out quickly, especially in peak times of the year. You can find out everything you need to know here so you can plan accordingly.
If you’re planning a trip to the Speyside area then make sure you include a stop at the Macallan, it’s an experience you don’t want to miss!
Where is The Macallan distillery?
The Macallan distillery can be located at the following address
The Macallan Distillery Ltd,