The Bucket List: The Macallan Distillery X Six Pillars Tour

A bottle of Macallan represents a journey! I am sure a lot of work have been put into the bottle of whisky that you pour out from Macallan. Since I am heading to the highlands in Scotland, I could not miss the opportunity to head to Macallan, visit their Distillery and learn how it is made. Furthermore to try some of the whisky right where it is made. The Macallan distillery is located right in the highlands, in the region of Aberlour. It is definitely hard to get here without a car. Surrounded by the trees, the River Spey that runs through the area and crisp mountain air. Now I finally know why a bottle of Macallan is a prized collection. You would have to drive thru some mountain roads and shared roads to get there, but it is easy enough with navigation. I believe the scenery would be amazing, sadly the whole day was overcast and pouring with rain. I am so happy to be finally able to visit a whisky distillery in Scotland! I sign up for their Six Pillars Tour which is the signature tour on offer.

The Macallan Estate, which is their edge cutting recently built distillery and tour experience is open in 2018 with a cost of over 250 million dollars. It is the birthplace of every bottle of The Macallan. The new experience also consists of many new exhibition and technology to showcase and elaborate on the process of making The Macallan. The new visitor centre is striking and gorgeous. Made with nature materials such as the timber roof. The designer also does projects like the projects like the Heathrow Terminal 5 in London and Beijing New International Airport. The estate is hidden from the outside and you get an amazing view once you turn it. You will be greeted by the greens and Macallan own livestock, a couple of cows right at the parking lot. Parking is easy and there are lots of directions shown. It is free as well.

The entrance and the whole building is in a wave like form and resemble an underground cellar. It is super high tech and classy. Immediately after entering is the entrance and host desk where you can check in. We were then given tags for our tour and the host will meet us right around the history corner. Macallan only offers guided tour and I sign up for the Six Pillars Tour where a host will guide you throughout the whole facility and it end of with a tasting. The tour cost 15 pounds and will be a max of 12 people. Definitely make reservations beforehand. Wifi is available in the property.

Given that we still have some time before our tour start we took the opportunity freshen up and check out some of the history corner as well as the impressive display of The Macallan Collection. It is super gorgeous and I believe there are every single vintage bottles of The Macallan. There are more than 800 bottles here, every one of them being the rarest of the rarest. We decided to find some from our birth year. The boutique is also right around the corner. I will come back to this later on.

You can also find a cafe in the building. The tour started on time and most of us are asians. There is a total of 12 people. We were introduced to the brand and learn a little about their history. Then we were lead to the upper level to start the tour. On the second level there is also a super gorgeous bar. Even if you are not taking a tour you can just come over here to have a drink. The building also boost amazing view over the area, sadly it was gloomy and grey on the day that I was here. We start to learn about the history and the production process of The Macallan. How technology have not replace the high need of manpower and much is not automated. They also operated and brew all year around.

We also get to see and walk through the production area and you can get close contact with the  impressive 36 wash and spirit stills, constructed in series of three circular arrangements, with each consisting of four wash stills and eight spirit stills.

These facilities produce 15.4 million litters per year to cope with the demand worldwide. Every bottle of The Macallan is produce here. There are areas where the guide would inform you not to use your phone as there are a lot of alcohol vapours. You are allowed to take pictures of the place, needless to say, I went crazy.  I love the smell of the malted barley in the air inside the facility.

We also learned that the distillery uses 2 water sources in the area as well as both Dark barley which is grown by them self as well as concerto barley contracted out all over Scotland. They are then soak for 2 days and there is a two process distillation. One to get a clear spirit and the second to make it into whisky. Everything is done on site and aged as well. For the little curious ones the oldest vintage that they release is a 72 year aged The Macallan. A little google search now shows that it cost about 60,000 USD for a bottle. When the water and air is that good, you know why Scotland Whisky is the elixir of life.

I love how there are various station around the facility to take us through different process of the production.

From the water to the bottling and even the ageing process in the oaks barrels. They even share about the oak they use, how the procure and build the oak. We even get to see and smell the different barrels. Learning about how they affect the flavour of the product. The so called “flavouring” stage.

The whole tour took about 1 hours and a half. It end of with a tasting and we are lead to this super gorgeous tasting room. There was a flight of 3 pour.

One is the fresh spirit which is 60% alcohol. More like an alcohol rub. The other two was The 12 years triple oak as well as The limited edition No.4 which is more sherry focused and spicy. I do have to say the pur was kind of stingy. I love that they are pretty considerate, if you are driving, they will give you little bottles to bring the pour back the tasting.

The last part that I would like to share would be on the boutique. It is on the other side of the host desk, near the entrance. Of course, coming all the way here to the birthplace of Macallan, you definitely have to get a bottle back. Do note that the prices are alright, it might not be cheaper than outside but you have more choices here definitely. You can find a normal The Macallan to some of the rarest limited edition and some that are a couple thousand of dollars. Slight tip, tourists can get tax free too! For those who are not buying. Looking at such amazing and expensive bottles are equally tempting as well! I bought a 12 years triple oak back. Something much more in my ballpark@

I really highly recommend anyone that is coming to Scotland, especially if you have your own car to visit some distillery in the area. You can find tons of them and the usual well known one. The whole area is like a whisky hometime. I went for Macallan because I was really interested in the brand, the most famous single malt whisky. Really recommend it since it is really nice and the host is knowledgeable too. But if you are looking for a more historical and less modern distillery, this then might not be for you.

 

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