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The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience – Best Use of Timber Awards 2019 Winner

Name of building
The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience
Date Completed
May 2018
Building type
Distillery and Visitor Centre
Craigellachie, Aberlour
Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Designer site
Main contractor

Robertson Construction Group


2019RIBA Stirling Prize shortlist
2019RIAS Award for Scotland 2019
2019RIAS Special Category Award - Wood for Good/Scottish Forestry Commission for the Best Use of Timber
2019ArchDaily Building of the Year 2019 - Industrial Architecture
2018Structural Timber Awards - Winner of Winners
2018Structural Timber Awards - Engineer of the Year
2018Structural Timber Awards - Highly Commended Project of the Year
2018Scottish Design Awards - Leisure/Culture Building or Project

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Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience:

Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience was designed to deliver a unique ‘home of the brand’, welcoming visitors and revealing the production processes involved in whiskey making.  The aim was also to respond as sensitively as possible to its rural setting, the 18th-century Easter Elchies manor estate in Speyside that has been responsible for creating whisky since 1824.


The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience

Cut into the naturally sloping contours of the site, the design makes direct references to ancient Scottish earthworks in terms of its 207 metres long undulating living meadow roof, along with wider landscaping, that not only synchronises with the surrounding landscape but also serves to provide an authentic and atmospheric journey for the visitor.


The Macallan Distillery interior

Internally, a series of circular production ‘cells’ are arranged in a linear format with an open-plan layout revealing all stages of the distillery process at once. These cells, and the new visitor centre, are reflected above the building forming the peaks or domes of the gently undulating roof.

Use of timber

The Macallan Distillery timber

The utilisation of material to maximise its capacity was key to the engineering strategy. In what is one of the most challenging timber structures ever built in the UK, the downstand composite Glulam beams that form the roof are placed where their lightness and bending capacity can be demonstrated. In areas of additional shear stress, Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) beams, facetted on a 3 x 3 m waffle grid structure, have been mobilised to assist.  The domes of the timber grillage sit on a steel tension ring, which in turn is supported by inclined steel columns that bear the resulting thrusts into the concrete shear walls and thus into the ground. By separating the roof from the earth, lateral pressures are relieved, allowing the roof to ‘float’ above.


The Macallan Distillery Construction

Constructed over a six-month period, the new building not only provides a facility capable of increased production but one that will allow for easy expansion in years to come.  The project is also considered to be an exceptional example of production and logistics using offsite construction, bringing together architect, engineer and manufacturer, working collaboratively, to solve all the issues required to bring such an ambitious concept to reality.


Images: Joas Souza/Mark Power

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