Macallan distillery review whisky and spectacle galore
Macallans new 140m distillery and visitor centre, by Richard Rogers and co, is a suitably subtle blend of hi-tech and theatre designed to put the beautiful business of whisky production centre stage
In 2014, Sothebys Hong Kong sold a bottle of whisky for US $628,000. It was, to be sure, big six litres and it came garnished with PR gush about the rich natural colour, complexity and sumptuous intensity of the rare Macallan malt it contained. It was meticulously crafted by 17 craftsmen of the French luxury glass company Lalique. Personally Id pay not to own this meretricious object, arbitrarily faceted like a Thames-side skyscraper, but the net proceeds of the auction went to charity, so it was all in a good cause.
Such is the power of a global luxury drinks brand, which was also manifested earlier this month when hundreds of cars descended on Macallans Speyside home in quest of the limited release of a 495 bottle of whisky. Some of them parked overnight. Police had to take control of what was reported to be chaos. Roads were closed. The internet flickered with grumbles from frustrated scotch lovers.
This power finds expression in architecture. From time to time, wineries and distilleries decide to invest their surplus value in buildings by famous architects and designers Santiago Calatrava and Frank Gehry in Rioja, Norman Foster for Chateau Margaux, Thomas Heatherwick for Bombay Sapphire gin. Macallan have now brought this concept to Scotland, with a new 140m distillery and visitor centre alongside their existing facility on a 158-hectare site that slopes down to the River Spey. It is designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, the practice founded by Richard Rogers.