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Edition No. 6

The River Spey: One of the Last Sanctuaries for Atlantic Salmon

E600CA23-A5CF-4F30-BC0F-7E8B830451E0@2x Jun 03 2021 · 4 min read

A proud symbol of Scotland, The River Spey weaves its way through the heart of Speyside and The Macallan Estate. These waters form a key part of our whisky-making process, as well as providing everlasting inspiration to always hold close and value the nature that surrounds us. 


A Regional Treasure

The Macallan Estate is situated within Scottish countryside classified as an “Area of Great Landscape Value” (GLV), and the legendary River Spey that runs through our Estate is also designated as being a ‘Designated Special Area of Conservation' (SAC); it is essential that we both preserve and nurture this place.

Not only has the river been a popular salmon fishing beat for hundreds of years, we also source the water for our new-make spirit from spring water boreholes nearby. Sustaining and protecting this source has always been at the heart of what we do, and all fishing on the Estate is, and always will be, catch and release.

When building our new Distillery we took safeguarding measures and extreme caution to ensure that the site’s close proximity to the River Spey did not pollute the water or its surrounding area during construction. We engaged an ecologist who worked closely with our Environmental Specialist throughout the construction process to ensure wildlife was protected during the build.

Inspired by the remarkable experience offered by the Spey, The Macallan Whisky Maker, Steven Bremner, created  Edition No. 6 by choosing five cask styles that embody unique stories related to the river and its unparalleled natural landscape.


A Shared Spirit of Sustainability and Community

Steven Bremner The Macallan Whisky Maker said: “From its early days of whisky making almost 200 years ago, The Macallan has been strongly inspired by and intrinsically connected to nature. We are proud custodians of our stretch of the River Spey, advocating for sustainability of the wildlife in and around it.”

The River Spey

107 Miles

It is the 3rd longest river in Scotland

16 Miles

With a flow of 16 miles a second, the Spey is the fastest river in Scotland


The name 'Spey' first appears in 1451, although in 150 Ptolemy noted the river as ‘Tuesis’

A Sanctuary for Atlantic Salmon

Home to the largest Atlantic salmon population in Scotland, in recent years the famous Wild Atlantic salmon have become endangered. As one of the guardians of this important sanctuary, we have launched a new charitable partnership with The Atlantic Salmon Trust to help to conserve this at-risk species, whose numbers have declined so rapidly in recent years.

The Atlantic Salmon Trust is protecting wild salmon and sea trout across the world wherever they roam, and especially in unique places such as the River Spey, by tracking their migration across thousands of miles across rivers and oceans.


There has been a relentless and long-term decline in wild Atlantic salmon returning to rivers from right across the Atlantic. These fish are giving us a clear message that all is not well with the health of our rivers and oceans. We need to listen to this message and, collectively, do all that we can to protect and nurture this iconic species for the sake of future generations and the world they inherit. Between us, we can give wild Atlantic salmon the future they deserve.

Mark Bilsby, CEO at The Atlantic Salmon Trust

Harmony with Nature

Through the partnership, The Macallan is supporting The Trust’s vital conservation work in the River Spey and beyond. The funding is being used for the Moray Firth Tracking Project, which aims to find out where and why Atlantic salmon are dying in their oceanic migration, as well as for other international outreach projects.

Atlantic Salmon Trust and The Moray Firth Tracking Project

The Moray Firth Tracking Project was launched in 2019 and at the time was the largest acoustic tracking programme of its kind ever to be undertaken in Europe. The three-year project aims to find out where and why Atlantic salmon are dying as they migrate down seven major rivers in the Moray Firth, a triangular inlet of the North Sea, in their oceanic migration.

With over 50 years’ experience in salmon conservation, The Atlantic Salmon Trust is protecting wild salmon and sea trout. The Trust’s scientific team works tirelessly to track salmon migration across thousands of km from their dominion to the open oceans and assure the safe return of the king to his final sanctuary.

Read More

Supporting The Re-naturalisation Of The Delliefure Burn

In 2021, in partnership with the Spey Catchment Initiative and the Spey Fishery Board, The Macallan co-funded a project with the Cairngorms National Park Authority to re-naturalise the Delliefure Burn – a key tributary of The River Spey that runs through land on our neighbouring Tulchan and Seafield Estates.

Modified up until the 1960s, the burn was straightened to make agricultural management of the land easier. However, straightened – or canalised – burns are now recognised as not functioning in a natural ecological sense, causing a deeper and faster water flow than normal, isolating the river from its flood plain and increasing flood risk downstream.

Restoration of the Delliefure Burn will slow and help to re-meander the flow of this stretch of water which in turn will reintroduce a natural ‘nursery’ space for spawning and juvenile salmon. Improving the conditions of the tributary not only supports the spawning of salmon but also allows those young salmon - the fry and parr - to mature safely, protecting these young fish from predators, extremes of water temperature and from being washed out of the river during extreme flooding events.

Work to re-naturalise the land directly surrounding the burn has also been undertaken which will yield many additional ecological land and wildlife benefits. Careful excavation has been undertaken to reconnect the floodplain with the burn, allowing natural flooding of the landscape to happen. This will provide storage of flood waters and help to retain and build up carbon stored in the rich, peaty soil.

The introduction of ‘scrapes’ – wetland habitats around the burn - will initiate a cascade of plant and wildlife habitats designed to support a range of species from breeding waders to dragonflies as well as many other invertebrates and amphibians.
Learn More about Our Initiatives

Preserving and Sustaining

The Atlantic Salmon Trust shares The Macallan’s spirit of sustainability and community and together we care for the extraordinary river and its natural surroundings. The partnership is featured on the Edition 6 packaging and will help The Atlantic Salmon Trust to continue its vital job of tracking salmon as they migrate.

The Macallan is a proud custodian of its stretch of the River Spey. We advocate for sustainability of the wildlife in and around it, and so all fishing at The Macallan is, and always will be, catch and release.
Edition No. 6

Guardian of the River Spey

Meet The Macallan’s Ghillie, Robert Mitchell, guardian of The Macallan’s stretch of the River Spey.


Edition No. 6

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