The Macallan Distillery. Credit Mark Power and Magnum Photos; The Macallan Distillery. Credit Mark Power and Magnum Photos;

The Macallan Distillery Extension, Scotland

Collaborating with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to design a new single malt Scotch whisky distillery and visitor centre at The Macallan Estate.

The new Macallan Distillery is set sensitively into the beautiful landscape of the Scottish Highlands, adjacent to original 18th century manor house.

The design brief required a state of the art facility that will meet the growing demand for Macallan’s famous Scotch whisky as well as welcome visitors to enjoy the whisky-making process. Arup have worked closely with the Macallan’s whisky production engineers in order to showcase the process and coordinate distribution lines and interfaces in keeping with the architectural intent. We are providing structural, fire and building services, environmental and ecological advice as well as site-wide civil and structure engineering.

A modern space

The process hall and visitor centre are designed as single-storey spaces, with a total floor area of 8,100 m². In order to minimise the material usage, the hall is formed from retaining walls.

The building services at the visitor centre have been designed with simplicity in mind; clean lines and discrete placement ensure visitor focus is uncluttered.  The entire building is fire-engineered to minimise the need for sprinklers. It does so by evacuating up to 12,000 litres of spilt alcohol in less than 2 minutes.

An unconventional roof

The roof has been designed to create an undulating silhouette in balance with the delicate countryside. Composed of a timber gridshell, the grass-covered double-curved roof will be one of the largest of its kind in the world.  Abutments anchor the inclined steel columns which carry the roof. The ground slab contains ventilation ducts supplying air to the process hall within its formation.

Arup’s building physics specialists constructed detailed 3D models to calculate relative humidity on the surface of the timber roof elements and in the space adjacent to them, providing confidence in the performance of the timber grid shell roof under challenging environmental conditions.

This contemporary distillery, designed with Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, is envisioned to complement the natural beauty of The Macallan estate, meeting the client’s vision of an iconic, truly inspirational building as part of their luxury spirit brand. The distillery and visitor centre opened to the public in 2018.

Producing whisky

The river Spey is used as a source of water for production and for cooling in the whisky making process, whilst rainwater is collected from the green roof, stored in buried tanks and used to irrigate the roof during dry weather.

Waste heat from distillation and condensing process is recovered and used as the primary source of heating for the visitor centre, with gas-fired boilers provided as a back-up for use during maintenance downtime.

The process ventilation has been engineered on a bespoke basis to dilute and remove potentially flammable ethanol vapours.