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