SCOTLAND - Leading Scotch whisky brand The Macallan unveiled its new £140 million (S$253 million) distillery and visitor experience in the heart of Speyside on Monday (May 21, UK time) - one which will open its doors to the public on June 2.
Located within the 194-year-old Easter Elchies estate near Craigellachie, where its whisky has been made historically, the new space blends into the surrounding countryside and allows visitors a look into the production processes of one of the best-selling whiskys in the world.
The unique design of the distillery sees it hidden in undulating hills. Cut into the landscape of the 158-ha estate, the project was helmed by London-based architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. Construction kicked off in December 2014.
With demand for whisky increasing worldwide, the new distillery will enable The Macallan to increase production by a third if required.
"As The Macallan has grown globally it has been very important that we make sure we can sustain demand for this wonderful amber liquid," says Mr Ken Grier, creative director at The Macallan. "We've taken exceptional care in making sure that the spirit that is produced in the new distillery is identical to the spirit that we produced in our previous distillery."
The Macallan is owned by Edrington, the privately-owned distillers that also make Highland Park malt whisky and Glenrothes single malt Scotch whisky.
The new distillery is the highlight of Edrington's £500 million investment in the brand. It also announced it will be pumping more money into production, warehousing and the purchasing of sherry-seasoned oak casks. While the Scotch whisky industry predominantly uses bourbon casks, The Macallan matures its whisky in sherry-seasoned oak casks that are used no more than twice, with no colouring added to the whisky.
"When the doors open in June, we expect this new Macallan enterprise to deliver significant benefits for the tourism industry, Scotch whisky exports, and the economy," says Mr Ian Curle, chief executive of Edrington Group.
Rare Macallan whiskys have been in the news recently, with two bottles of 60-year-old Macallan whiskys selling for a total of HK$16.6 million (S$2.85 million) at Bonhams Hong Kong on May 18, shattering the record for the most expensive bottles ever sold at an auction.
One bottle, bearing a label designed by British pop artist Peter Blake - who is behind the sleeve art of The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album - was sold for HK$7.96 million, while the other bottle, whose label was designed by Italian artist Valerio Adami, went for HK$8.63 million.
Both 75cl (750ml) bottles were distilled in 1926, matured in a sherry hogshead casks and bottled in 1986. Only twelve bottles of each whisky were ever produced.