Built on the Easter Elchies estate in Speyside, the new Macallan distillery has been unveiled by international premium spirits company Edrington. The Macallan is one of the most famous whisky brands in the world and wanted a new centre that could reveal the production processes and welcome visitors while remaining sensitive to the beautiful surrounding countryside.
This striking piece of contemporary architecture is cut into the slope of the land, taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills. It maximises the aesthetic beauty of the building, whilst minimising the visual impact on the beautiful Speyside landscape; classified as an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value.’
PEFC-certified main contractor Robertson – located in nearby Elgin – delivered the complex architectural design working with 25 sub-contractors to bring the flagship £140 million distillery and visitor experience to life. Taking the complex and unique architectural design and moulding it to complement an area of outstanding natural beauty, this challenging build required everyone involved applying technical skills, innovation and expertise to create a seamless connection to the surrounding countryside.
During construction, up to 400 people specialising in more than 20 different trades were employed onsite. It is the first distillery on Speyside to be designed by an internationally acclaimed architecture practice, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, which was selected to lead the project after an international competition.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of the new building is the undulating timber roof structure that is one of the most complicated timber roof structures in the world, comprising 380,000 individual components. Each junction and beam has a specific name and has been tested in over 160 different load conditions while ‘The Swiss Alpine Design code’ was used to predict the effects a Scottish winter might have on the intricate structure.
The roof comprises 1,750 PEFC-certified glulam timber beams, making up a 3x3m grid that carries 2,500 cassettes that support a natural meadow green roof. It took almost 12 months of work, using collaborative design and bespoke, parametric modelling software, to define the complex geometry, and realise the fluidity of the structure.
The timber elements were manufactured by PEFC certified Timber engineering company Wiehag, using high-precision, computer-controlled technology.
Wiehag is one of the few companies in the world capable of this level of engineering. There were over 5,000 lifts, using four mobile cranes, to install the roof structure. Wooden barrels impart a distinct flavour to whisky, the timber roof of this distillery gives a unique character to this building.
Bill Robertson, founder and Executive Chairman, Robertson, said: “This once-in-a-lifetime project is one that Robertson has been honoured to be part of. The complexity of the construction work required a huge effort from various teams within our business, and their passion and dedication for the project is clear when you see the completed distillery and visitor experience. Throughout, we have placed great emphasis on understanding The Macallan’s vision for their Speyside home and there has been a real spirit of collaboration between us and all other partners. We congratulate The Macallan and hope visitors to the area enjoy this world class distillery.”
Graham Stirk, senior partner and lead architect, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, added: “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.”
The project was announced in 2012 and construction began in December 2014. The first whisky ran through the stills in December 2017 and the visitor experience opened on 2 June 2018.
For further information visit Robertson