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Marks of Distinction

Clear Objectives: Transparency within the distillery

E600CA23-A5CF-4F30-BC0F-7E8B830451E0@2x Nov 15 2018 · 4 min read

At The Macallan, our history and heritage shape us, and the centuries spent refining our whisky and taking the time at every step of the process means that we are naturally both proud, and mindful of protecting our single malt whisky. Yet we have chosen to lay our valued process bare.

When the decision was made to build a new Distillery and Visitor Experience in one building, set under one roof, it was done with the conscious awareness that this was a bold step away from the expected. Traditionally, whisky distilleries tours have their visitor experience separate from the actual distillery – you dip in and out during the tour but there are many areas that are never revealed to the public. We chose to view this ambitious new project as an opportunity to change expectations, and give visitors a means of connecting with our brand story in a way which is immersive, engaging and memorable.

This was an internal challenge as well, we wanted to raise the bar for our own standards of what was considered a true Macallan experience. A brand home that was a celebration of all those years of sacrifice and dedication combined with how we are continually pushing ourselves to innovate.

Inside the Macallan whisky distillery tour
Inside the Macallan whisky distillery tour in speyside
Inside the Macallan whisky distillery with stills

One vision under one roof

If we were going to integrate the distillery with the visitor experience, it needed to be functional (it is after all, a working distillery) yet also designed with a narrative that drew the visitor into the entire process.

Underneath the roof, the resulting open-plan layout reveals all stages of the process at once.

Whilst the entire experience is housed under the one roof, there are certain regulation that have to be met to ensure the health and safety of our guests and our staff. One such regulation is the separation of the distillery and the visitor experience areas. In keeping with the ethos of transparency, we made the decision to reveal the process to the visitors through constructing a 10m high glass wall. This in itself was a challenge, as not only did it need to suit the space and meet all necessary fire and safety regulations, the largest glass wall available, that met legislation was nowhere near tall enough.

Refusing to let this deter us, we chose to have a bespoke glass wall constructed. Yet another hurdle was presented when we learned that the only facility which possessed the capacity to test a glass wall of this size was located hundreds of miles away in Warrington. While others might have given up at this point or chosen to compromise, we decided that this element was integral to the greater vision – a vision that was both literal and metaphorical. Thus the component parts were individually certified and assembled for a sample wall, and then shipped to Warrington to be set on fire to demonstrate the wall complied with fire rating regulations.

Closeup of the rare whisky jewel case in The Macallan whisky distillery
The jewel case in The Macallan whisky distillery tour in speyside

The Crown Jewels

Another element that we chose to reveal to the public is our Archive. This ‘Jewel Box’ holds treasures from our past with bottles dating back to the early 1900s, and they’re on display for all to see. This is not a small, curated portion of times gone by; we’ve chosen to put the vast majority of our archive on display for consumers to immerse themselves in our rich history.

Our values and narrative have defined the overarching principles and subsequent decision to build a new brand home that lays the process bare, seamlessly integrating our foundational six pillars into an immersive experience that reveals our passion and dedication to making an exceptional whisky.

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