The Easter Elchies estate in Craigellachie, Scotland, has been home to the Macallan since a barley farmer named Alexander Reid founded the brand back in 1824. One can only imagine what ole Alex would think if he could see what they’ve done to the place. Whisky lovers still on this mortal coil most certainly can when, beginning June 2, the Macallan’s new $190 million Distillery and Visitor Experience officially opens to the public.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive facilities devoted to the manufacture of spirits ever built, the striking piece of contemporary architecture—designed by London-based architectural firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners—is cut into the rolling hills of Speyside just 400 meters from the existing distillery. The designers boast that the undulating timber roof is the most intricate of its kind ever designed, comprising 380,000 individual components.
The gleaming facility is powered almost entirely by renewable resources. Interactive tours ($20) take about 90 minutes and cover the “six pillars” of the whisky-making process from field to bottle. The experience begins with an introduction to the brand in a cathedral-like gallery area, where 840 archival bottles of the Macallan rise in a dazzling exhibit. The brand has been amassing its collection of historic bottles and authenticating them, using them as guides for understanding older spirits. An expansive barrel room affords visitors the opportunity to nose a variety of cask types, followed by a stroll along an elevated walkway that rings the many copper stills and mash tuns where the magic happens.
The tour concludes at a tasting library stocked with a vast array of Macallan’s prized and popular whiskies, old and new. Four drams of the latter are included in the price of admission. The library collection includes the Genesis Limited Edition, a decanter created to commemorate the new distillery that retails for $60,000.