Sustaining the Future: Innovation and harmony within the distillery
Building sustainability into the new Distillery and Visitor Experience
In many ways, investment is all about having a vision for what endures. As whisky distillers with a rich and distinguished history we are, quite naturally, focused on the long term. We have learned to look beyond the immediate future, instead anticipating how our actions will have an impact twenty, thirty, and fifty years from now.
A short term pay-off pales in comparison to the rewards that can be reaped from investment and a well-considered long-term vision. This mindset and perspective was one of the primary lenses we used when we planned for our new Distillery and Visitor Experience. Sustaining our future needed to reach beyond just ourselves, thus it was central in this groundbreaking plan.
Harmony with the Environment
The Macallan Distillery is situated in an area of the Scottish countryside that is classified as an “Area of Great Landscape Value” (GLV), and so it, and the new Visitor Experience, was designed with the local environment foremost in our minds. The vision of the architects Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners was to construct a building that is sympathetic to the preservation of the area, and this was achieved both visually and practically. The Macallan Estate on which it is situated is surrounded by the rolling hills of Speyside and our building design reflects this natural rhythm.
The beautiful River Spey that runs through the estate is designated at the highest level of conservation, as well as being a ‘Designated Special Area of Conservation' (SAC). The River has been a popular salmon fishing beat for hundreds of years, and we source the water for our new-make spirit from spring water boreholes nearby. The close proximity to the River Spey meant we had to ensure throughout the build that rainfall didn’t pollute the River during the process. In anticipation of this we engaged an ecologist who worked closely with our environmental specialist during the construction process to ensure wildlife was protected during the build.
Closing the Loop
There are certain ‘industry standards’ that are considered necessary when undertaking a project of this scale. We chose to raise the bar and challenge ourselves to go beyond the status quo, to design self-regulating ‘closed loop’ systems where possible, utilise renewable energy sources, and push beyond industry targets.
Raising the Bar
The steam from a biomass energy-generating plant close-by is used to power our boilers, reducing the carbon footprint of our previous energy supply from gas.
We repurpose the heat from the stills to heat the Visitor Experience.
Any surface water from the building roof and car-park is managed via a Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SuDS), a natural approach to drainage which helps prevent water pollution and flooding.
Our cooling water is locally sourced from the River Spey.
The running distillery uses heat from the biomass plant– which uses recycled organic waste to create energy– and electricity from a private wire supply, the result being that the majority of all energy consumed is from renewable sources.
Despite the increase in size, the distillery uses less energy per litre of alcohol produced compared to the previous production site. While there was potential for a nominal increase in waste created, the by-products of our ‘draff’ and ‘pot ale’ (the grain left in the wash-tun and liquid left in the wash still) are used to produce power and animal feed at the nearby CoRDe biomass energy plant in Rothes.
The Macallan’s rich history in Speyside help shape the values that characterise our actions as a brand, informing the vision to create a beautiful brand home and invest in our future.
This vision is embodied in every aspect of what we do, from the journey of the wood to our diverse collaborations. Challenging ourselves to find innovative solutions to the hurdles that arose with building a new brand home was another way to go beyond the status quo, to celebrate exceptionality and take pride in what we are creating.