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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

“Our plan for the estate includes a contemporary distillery that embodies the international style of The Macallan and builds on the brand’s tradition of quality and craftsmanship”

Ian Curle, Chief Executive of The Edrington Group

The new Macallan Distillery will be set into the landscape of the estate that has been responsible for creating the single malt whisky since 1824. The Macallan is already established as one of the most famous whisky makers 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.

The new building will provide a facility capable of increased production and also allow for easy expansion in years to come. Internally, a series of production cells are arranged in a linear format with an open-plan layout revealing all stages of the process at once. These cells are reflected above the building in the form of a gently undulating roof, formed by a timber gridshell. Grass-covered peaks will rise and fall from The Macallan estate grounds, signalling to approaching visitors the activities housed beneath. Set into the naturally sloping contours of the site, the design makes direct references to ancient Scottish earthworks.

Easter Elchies House – an original 18th century Highland manor house – must remain the primary focus of the estate and so the main access to the new visitor centre will begin near this building. The estate is as important to The Macallan as the buildings that make up the distillery and so a subtle manipulation of the terrain will be used to reveal the built form and control views without appearing forced or overtly grand. The great 18th century garden designers knew the importance of flow and movement in a large landscape; that parks should be experienced on a meandering journey. The new distillery project will celebrate the whisky-making process as well as the landscape that has inspired it, and is due to open to the public in Spring 2017.

The new distillery for The Macallan is located alongside their existing facility within the extensive 390-acre (158-hectare) estate of Easter Elchies House.

Built in 1700, the House is a fine example of a Highland manor house and its estate was originally designed by Victorian landscape designer Thomas White Snr., the plans for which were prepared in 1789. The site for the new distillery is in a designated ‘Area of Grand Landscape Value’ amid farmland used for growing barley.

A new visitor approach reinstates an historic driveway which leads past the proposed distillery before looping back to provide a set piece arrival sequence up to the front door of the new building. The journey presents a microcosm of the natural elements so pertinent in the formation of The Macallan Whisky: the barley fields give way to the permanence of the oak trees, representing the wood used in the whisky casks; beneath the trees the visitors encounter a natural stone pavement and stone dressed water feature, highlighting the importance of fresh spring water in the distillation process and the local stone which filters it.

Cut into the slope of the landscape, the distillery takes its cues from ancient Scottish earthworks. The undulating roof to the facility is planted with a Scottish wildflower meadow and, as it rises and falls in uniform, indicates the location of the four individual production cells beneath. A taller fifth peak marks the entrance and visitor centre. The roof form’s timber construction is apparent through the planting: conceived in the tradition of the ordered, manmade landscape envisioned by Thomas White.

In reference to the environmental status of the proposed site, within an ‘Area of Great Landscape Value’, the design is a landscape response.

Dug into the naturally sloping contours of the site the building has minimal visual impact on the landscape. The soft undulating roof speaks to the hills of the surrounding countryside yet the clearly man-made and engineered forms of the uniform peaks reflect the industrial production cells contained within.

Arranged over a series of five cells the form of the roof reflects the component parts of the distillery. The building includes a flexible visitors centre (covered by the one taller roof crest), three still houses and mash house. The visitor experience starts with an introduction to The Macallan in an exhibition and gallery area, before progressing through a sequence of spaces that follow the production story of the whisky. Natural materials – local stone, timber and the living meadow roof – as well as the landscaping design not only evoke the environment and ingredients of whisky production but also serve to provide an atmospheric journey for the visitor.

The production rooms house equipment for mashing, fermentation and distillation in a circular configuration. A modular approach to the facilities is employed, where additional still rooms can be opened as required. In addition, a service route and the ‘tank farm’ runs along the rear of the building, under the roof and cut into the landscape.

“Our plan for the estate includes a contemporary distillery that embodies the international style of The Macallan and builds on the brand’s tradition of quality and craftsmanship”

Ian Curle, Chief Executive of The Edrington Group

The new Macallan Distillery will be set into the landscape of the estate that has been responsible for creating the single malt whisky since 1824. The Macallan is already established as one of the most famous whisky makers 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.

The new building will provide a facility capable of increased production and also allow for easy expansion in years to come. Internally, a series of production cells are arranged in a linear format with an open-plan layout revealing all stages of the process at once. These cells are reflected above the building in the form of a gently undulating roof, formed by a timber gridshell. Grass-covered peaks will rise and fall from The Macallan estate grounds, signalling to approaching visitors the activities housed beneath. Set into the naturally sloping contours of the site, the design makes direct references to ancient Scottish earthworks.

Easter Elchies House – an original 18th century Highland manor house – must remain the primary focus of the estate and so the main access to the new visitor centre will begin near this building. The estate is as important to The Macallan as the buildings that make up the distillery and so a subtle manipulation of the terrain will be used to reveal the built form and control views without appearing forced or overtly grand. The great 18th century garden designers knew the importance of flow and movement in a large landscape; that parks should be experienced on a meandering journey. The new distillery project will celebrate the whisky-making process as well as the landscape that has inspired it, and is due to open to the public in Spring 2017.

Key Facts

Show Team

Team

Kelly Darlington
Laurence Day
Philip Dennis
John Dent
Mike Fairbrass
Tobi Frenzen
Gianmaria Giovanni
Jan Guell
Kevin Gray

Ed Hiscock
Jisoo Hwang
Toby Jeavons
Anja Kempa
John Kennedy
Anthony Lau
Emily Lewith
Tim Mason
Nic Mitchell

Andrew Morris
Emma Swarbrick
Graham Stirk
Angela Tobin
Chris Wilkinson
Rion Willard
Andrew Yek
Elizabeth Young

Hide Team

Date
2012-ongoing

Client
The Edrington Group

Location
Speyside, UK

Construction cost
£100,000,000

Area
14,800m²

Structural Engineer
Arup

Services Engineer
Arup

Lighting Consultant
Speirs and Major

Landscape Architect
Gillespies