The Macallan warehouse was the largest bonded warehouse in Europe at the time of its construction, with a capacity of 80,000 casks. They have some of the oldest whiskies in existence stored there, including some from the end of 19th century and beginning of the 20th century
The Macallan Distillery
tel - +44(0)1340 871 471
web - www.themacallan.com
Tours through the Macallan distillery - available Monday to Friday plus Saturdays during summer. For tours contact +44 (0)1340 872 280. Charges apply. Read about our experience of the tour
Macallan is one of the largest and most famous distilleries in Scotland and has a capacity of 6 million litres a year. The distillery has 21 stills and while this is a large amount, each one is small, fat and stands at less than 4 metres tall. This produces the richer, creamier spirit that Macallan has become reknowned for. There are a number of other things that make Macallan different from most other distilleries. They are one of the last remaining distilleries to use a strain of barley called 'Golden Promise' that is regarded as being the perfect barley for distilling whisky. However, its popularity crashed as it is gives a low yielding crop and prices rose dramatically in the 1960s and distilleries turned to cheaper alternatives. Until this point, Golden Promise had been used throughout the industry. The only other distillery to still regularly use this barley is Benromach. Macallan also use two types of yeast during fermentation, compared to just one type at most other distilleries. This is done in order to maximise the amount of sugar that gets turned into alcohol and can give a slight extra creaminess to the final spirit. The final difference is in the maturation. The whisky goes into European oak casks that have previously been made to exact specifications and filled with sherry by the Gonzalez Byass Bodega in Jerez, Spain. This practice is rare as sherry casks are 10 times as expensive as a bourbon cask, which is what the majority of the industry use for maturation. In 2004, a series of whiskies called 'fine oak' were released with the idea of attracting new customers to Macallan. This series of whisky is matured for some time in the sherry casks but is then transferred in to bourbon casks.
Macallan was founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid and the distillery was operated from the original buildings of Macallan farm. It was named Elchies distillery after a nearby estate and this name was used until 1980 when the decision was taken to change it to Macallan. The distillery changed ownership a number of times during its early days and some much needed stability came when Roderick Kemp took control in 1892. He had previously been the co –owner of Talisker on the isle of Skye and Macallan remained in the control of his family until 1994, when it was sold to a consortium of Japanese company Suntory and the Highland Distillers Group. In 1999, the distillery became part of the Edrington Group, who are the current owners. The path of Macallan's history changed forever in 1980. The name was changed and the decision taken to concentrate on producing premium quality single malt whisky rather than whisky for blending. Many in the whisky trade thought this was a risky mistake but the decision has proved to be a great success. Macallan is currently the third best selling single malt in the UK and the fifth best selling in the world. A conscious decision was also made to target the travel retail/duty free market by releasing exclusive bottlings and editions of their whisky for that sector. This has again paid off as Macallan lies in second place for worldwide duty free sales, behind only Glenfiddich.