Raise a glass to the new Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners-designed Macallan Distillery

Birdseye view of fields & buildings
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners are behind the distillery for Macallan whiskey in Scotland
(Image credit: Joas Souza)

As the whisky afficionados will swiftly confirm, a visit to a distillery is much more than just about the tasting; it is a pilgrimage and a journey of discovery that is just as much about the experience than the sublime drink itself. So when a leading international architecture firm, such as Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, is appointed for a new facility within the field, our interest is piqued; and in the case of the new home for the Macallan Distillery in Scotland, the results do not disappoint.

Visually striking, the new-build project is set in the green fields of the Easter Elchies Estate in Speyside, which has been creating single malt whisky since 1824. The product’s superiority and the owners’ keen sense of entrepreneurship led the business to grow, meaning that when the London-based practice was called upon to create a new headquarters for the whisky company in 2014, the latter was in need of new facilities that would both enable an increase in production, and allow for future expansion.

The new Macallan space is located some 400m from the estate’s existing distillery. The architects envisioned it as a series of production cells, set in a row. These are covered by a green roof that envelopes the building, making it at one with the surrounding leafy landscape. However, they are designed to protrude creating a gently undulating roofscape that makes it presence subtly known.

Inside, the structure encompases both production and a visitor centre. ‘The roof is one of the most complicated timber structures in the world’, explain the architects. It comprises 1,800 single beams, 2,500 different roof elements, and 380,000 individual components – and almost none of these are the same. RSHP collaborated with engineers Arup for this impressive feat; Speirs and Major were behind the lighting design, while Gillespies was the landscape architect for the project.

Production has now started at the new Macallan facilities, which have just thrown open their doors to the public.  

Path besides the trees

The structure and its undulating green roof is set within the Easter Elchies Estate in Speyside

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Tables & chairs overlooking distillery floor

The new distillery building includes both production facilities and a visitor centre 

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Decorative ceiling

The roof was an extremely complicated part of the design, say the architects

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Red room with barrels covering the walls

The architects envisioned the structure as a series of production cells, set in a row 

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Top distillery floor

The roof comprises 1,800 single beams, 2,500 different roof elements, and 380,000 individual components 

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Room full of metal containers & pipes

Engineers Arup helped bring the impressive design to life

(Image credit: Joas Souza)

Bar area

The visitor experience includes a bar area under the project's dramatic timber roof

(Image credit: Joas Souza)


For more information visit the website of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).