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Founded in 1824, Macallan has grown to become one of Scotland’s top three producers of single malt whisky, with a reputation for quality known around the world.
Based in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands, Macallan opened the doors to its brand-new distillery in 2018. It’s a 140 million pound (over $190 million) temple to whisky, merging modern construction techniques with a conscious environmental effort.
As part of CNET’s 2021 Road Trip series, we took a step inside.
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Constructed with an interlaced roof of more than 2,500 pieces of Scandinavian spruce, the inside has the feel of an exclusive hotel spa.
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The roof is designed like hills that rise and fall the whole length of the building.
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The roof mimics the surrounding hills, allowing the distillery to not so much be in the countryside as be a part of it.
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The domes hide circles of handmade copper-pot stills.
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The distillery has 36 such stills, allowing it to produce a whopping 15 million liters of spirit each year at full capacity (almost 4 million gallons) — although it actually distils around 11 million liters of spirit per year (nearly 3 million gallons).
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The copper stills are huge, and they’re beautiful to behold.
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A peek inside one of the many stainless steel fermentation tanks.
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The mass of copper piping looks almost like some vast steampunk pipe organ.
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Visitors to the distillery walk up the wide, sweeping driveway.
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Highland cows graze on the farmland around the distillery.
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There’s a large bar area beneath one of the giant wooden domes, with hundreds of bottles to sample from.
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Giant glass windows run the length of the building, allowing for unobstructed views of the beautiful surroundings.
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The distillery sits close to the river Spey. Speyside is a region of Scotland well known for its whisky, with more than 50 distilleries in this area alone.
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Neat, with ice, or as part of a cocktail? Many whisky purists think neat is the only way to drink Scotch, but Macallan — and many more modern Scotch drinkers — say it’s up to you. It’s your drink, after all, and you should enjoy it the way you want.
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The giant domed roof is supported by a huge, interlaced steel frame.
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Once the spirit has distilled, it goes into oak casks to mature — sometimes for several decades.
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Macallan’s aim, like that of most producers of single malt whisky, is to ensure the whisky it makes is identical year after year.
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To ensure consistency, the distillers pay careful attention to fermentation time and temperature.
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Wastewater is thoroughly treated before being either returned to the River Spey or reused for cooling. Solid waste is taken to a local biomass plant, with the energy being returned to the national grid.
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The natural sunlight flooding in through the immense windows allows the copper pots to shine vibrantly with their natural color.
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One of the many enormous fermentation tanks.