Speyside, in Northeast Scotland, is the heart of the Scotch whisky industry, with some 50 distilleries across a relatively compact area. Of the many premium brands based here, one of the leaders is the Macallan Distillers, right at the heart of the region. To expand production and enable public engagement, the company has reinvented itself with a remarkable new distillery and visitor center designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSH+P)âa project won through competition. The resulting building puts the manufacturing process on display while also responding to, and enhancing, the landscape.
This is an industrial complex in protected countryside, perched on a hillside rather than in a valley bottom, as is more typical for this water-intensive enterprise. A network of underground pipes connects it to the Spey River and to boreholes on the Macallan property. It is a large, $185 million building: 656 by 200 feet, with an internal height of up to 50 feet on two levels. The challenge the architects set themselves, says partner in charge Graham Stirk, was to respond to the setting so that the building âjust becomes part of the land.â Aligned with the historic heart of the 139-acre estateâthe 1700 Easter Elchies house, now used for corporate entertainingâthe new building sits beneath an undulating meadow-covered roof that is tucked into the slope.