Whisky Focus - The Macallan Announces Plans For New Distillery & Visitor Centre

The Macallan Announces Plans For New Distillery

28th November 2013
The Macallan today revealed plans to build a new distillery and visitor centre.

Today Edrington revealed its plans to develop the Macallan Estate in Speyside with the announcement of their intention to build a new distillery and visitor centre for The Macallan.

Edrington plans to invest over £100 million in The Macallan estate a move which must have been influenced by the continuing increase in global demand for the Speyside malt which in 2012 was the third best selling Scotch single malt whisky in the world with a 9.2% world market share.

Back in 1975 the total number of stills in operation at The Macallan distillery was 21 and in 2009 a dormant stillhouse which contained six stills was re-commissioned which gave the distillery a projected increase in output capacity of 30% but it looks like even that move can't meet the projected future demand for this popular sherried Speyside dram.

The project to construct the new distillery and visitor centre is still in the planning stages and subject to receiving planning consent but the plan is for work on the project to begin in autumn 2014 and it is due to be completed in spring 2017.

In recent times there has been speculation amongst whisky enthusiasts about The Macallan's stock levels and the what seems like an ever increasing global demand for the prestigious Scotch malt whisky. This speculation has been fuelled by The Macallan replacing some of it younger age statement whiskies in both the travel retail and domestic markets. A few years ago The Macallan revealed the excellent The Macallan 1824 Collection a no age statement travel retail exclusive range which was followed this year by the equally excellent The Macallan 1824 Series in the domestic market and again all no age statement whiskies which replaced all expressions of The Macallan under 18 years old in many of the worlds markets. With today's announcement it does look like with the move to no age statement whiskies The Macallan was considering future demand, maturing stock and the distillery capacity to meet the what seems like an ever increasing global demand.

To create a site of such of major architectural significance in the heart of Speyside The Macallan have employed world-renowned architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to build the new distillery and visitor centre.

Today, when I put some questions to Ken Grier, Edringtonís director of malts about the existing Macallan distillery and the projected capacity of the new distillery he told me, "The distillery will continue business as usual during the construction of the new distillery", and he went on to say that there would be a significant increase in capacity but wouldn't reveal any numbers at this stage even when I asked about the number of stills which would be in the new distillery which I found strange. I would assume the stills shape and size would be identical to the current stills but I did think even in the planning stages they could reveal the number of stills which will be in the new distillery, I would assume it will be a significant increase in numbers. I would have loved to have told you how many stills there will be but I suppose time will tell. The new Macallan distillery will eventually replace the existing Macallan distillery on The Macallan Estate but what will happen to the current distillery remains to be seen. We could possibly see something similar to what happened at Clynelish and Brora, both run side by side until the demand depleted.

Ken also said: "As a leading luxury single malt, it was imperative that we selected an architect that understood and respected the importance of the history of The Macallan but had the experience and skills to create a building that is inspirational in its interpretation of contemporary luxury. In selecting RSHP, we have chosen a partner that shares our values and pushes the boundaries of style and quality.

"Easter Elchies House plays an integral role in the history and future of The Macallan. The proposal from RSHP will retain the integrity and importance of Easter Elchies House and the estate in the future. We are confident that this will give international visitors an outstanding impression of both The Macallan and Scotland and will build on the brandís position as the definitive luxury spirit."

Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington said: "This is a confident investment in the future of The Macallan and its home on Speyside. Our plan for the estate includes a contemporary distillery that embodies the international style of The Macallan and builds on the brandís tradition of quality and craftsmanship. As this long-term investment develops it will bring significant employment and economic benefit to the local community."

Graham Stirk, senior partner, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners said: "We are delighted to be working with The Macallan to realise their vision for the new distillery. This is a rare and fascinating project set within a great parkland estate. Our aim will be to reveal both the mystery of the place and the process, within this dramatic setting. ď

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