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Foundations: Stories that have shaped The Macallan

E600CA23-A5CF-4F30-BC0F-7E8B830451E0@2x Aug 24 · 5 min read

It is the small choices and everyday rhythms that shape history and leave a lasting legacy, just as much as the larger, ground-breaking decisions. We bring attention to a few of these stories through Tales of The Macallan Volume I, highlighting how Scottish farmers and drovers impacted life in Speyside, and informed Captain John Grant’s custodianship of Easter Elchies Estate. 

While The Macallan became officially licenced to distil in 1824, our roots on the Easter Elchies Estate run much deeper, back to the 1500s.

Tales of the Macallan Volume I book design by Shepherds bookbinders

Rest from the Weary Road  

Life In Speyside in The 1700s

The Macallan Distillery stands on Easter Elchies Estate in the county of Moray, North-East Scotland. It is an area of great natural beauty with green, rolling hills, fertile valleys and deep glens. 

During the 1700s Highland drovers would guide their cattle down a nearby track alongside the River Spey, on their way to the markets in the south. Coming to a tenant farmer’s home along the route, they may have stopped and conversed with the farmer about the harvest and the prospects of selling their cattle at market. 

In keeping with Highland tradition, the farmer would have offered the drovers a parting glass of locally distilled ‘aqua vitae’ or ‘usquebaugh’ in Scottish Gaelic, to fortify them on their travels before they took to the road again.

Easter Elchies

The Origins Of The Macallan

To understand the story of The Macallan, it is important to look at the history of Easter Elchies. It was 1543 when Captain John Grant’s family first became associated with this beautiful part of the Scottish Highlands, including the house and Estate lands of Easter Elchies. 

Captain John Grant inherited the Estate from his ancestors. He lived from 1659 to 1715 and while he was the Laird, he extended Easter Elchies House, which stood at the heart of his Highland Estate, now our spiritual home.

Learn More about the Estate
Map of the Macallan Estate

Captain John

The Laird of Easter Elchies

In many ways, Captain John Grant is representative of the very essence of The Macallan, with its roots deeply grounded in the traditions, nature and the local spirit of the region. 

Born in 1659, he grew up in an area where small communities of farmers worked the land, within a social hierarchy of landlord, kirk, tenant and labourer. A sense of belonging and community spirit bound people together in the Scottish Highlands at this time; farming itself required a high degree of cooperation in communal farms.

Given his role in reconstructing Easter Elchies House and in anticipating agricultural improvements on the lands of Easter Elchies, John Grant foreshadowed the creation of The Macallan. 

Although he enjoyed a privileged position, Grant also lived through hard times. He managed unimproved land with poor access, witnessed archaic agricultural practices and fought in the Battle of Cromdale in 1690.

Tales of the Macallan Volume I Book cover

Easter Elchies House

A Watchful Sentinel Since 1700

In 1700, John Grant’s project of restructuring and expanding the residence at Easter Elchies was completed. This work involved changing the Estate house from an ‘L’ shaped tower house to a ‘T’ plan by adding another wing. After the project was finished, the three-story Highland manor house had features which included crow-stepped end gables and a watchtower, complete with a corbelled staircase in the angle of the north-facing walls. 

Undertaking such a major building project at the end of the seventeenth century would have seen quarrymen splitting sheets of sandstone from local quarries, workmen cutting these sheets of stone into rough blocks, and then highly skilled stonemasons working these stones into the shapes required for the design of the building. 

John Grant’s project turned Easter Elchies House from a simple, semi-fortified tower house into a small Highland manor house, surrounded by a fine Estate, with woodlands, pasture and arable land. This special place was destined to become the spiritual home of The Macallan. An original granite inscription, high on the west elevation of Easter Elchies House, which bears the initials JPG (John Patrick Grant) and the year 1700, honours his achievement.

Learn More about Easter Elchies House
The Macallan Easter Elchies House on The Macallan Estate

John Grant’s Memory

The Legacy Of A Respected Man

John Grant’s influence on the Estate echoes through the years to today. His mausoleum is situated in the ancient kirkyard between Easter Elchies House and the River Spey. 

The last minister to preach at the church of Elchies died in 1695, and shortly thereafter the parish of Elchies became part of Knockando. By 1750 the old kirk was in ruins, although the remains still stand to this day in the graveyard not far from The Macallan Distillery. 

In the graveyard the mausoleum of the Grant family is the resting place of Captain John Grant, who died at the beginning of March 1715 at the age of 56. Highly respected by his community, he was a man dearly loved by his son, who had the mausoleum built in honour of his late father.

John Grant’s legacy continues to live on through The Macallan’s community spirit and devotion to nature, informing our decisions shaping our future.

Discover

Tales of The Macallan Volume I

Explore an exceptional single malt that pays tribute to the legacy of Captain John Grant.

Read next

Tales of the Macallan Volume I book design by Shepherds bookbinders

The Laird of Easter Elchies

E600CA23-A5CF-4F30-BC0F-7E8B830451E0@2x Aug 24 · 3 min read
Andrew Davidson for Tales of The Macallan Volume I in his studio with a print

In Collaboration with Andrew Davidson

9D1B70C0-3B5A-44B1-9424-A8CA9A857B34@2x Aug 24 · 3 min watch