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More Macallan

by Gavin D Smith, 05/08

The current global boom in Scotch whisky sales and optimistic forecasts for future growth have seen most of the major Scottish producers announcing plans to increase the output of their distilleries.

As readers of our Whisky News pages during the last few months will be aware, some, such as Diageo and William Grant & Sons have responded by creating entirely new distilleries, while Chivas has resurrected two mothballed Speyside distilleries (Allt à Bhainne and Braeval) and intends to extend its Glenlivet distillery in the near future.

The Edrington Group owns one of Scotland's most iconic malt whiskies in the shape of The Macallan, located near Craigellachie in the heart of Speyside. The brand has seen its sales rise by a remarkable 87 per cent over the past five years, and, accordingly, The Macallan is following its competitors in increasing capacity.

A dormant production area, mothballed in the early 1990s, is being brought back into active service as part of an investment plan that will increase output by upwards of 30 per cent to over eight million litres of alcohol per year. The refurbished plant, comprising a mash house, tun room and stillhouse, with two wash and four spirit stills, was originally built in the mid 1960s.

Most of the old production equipment will be replaced, along with the roof, and Edrington Group subsidiary Clyde Cooperage will manufacture and install the washbacks, which will be made of traditional Oregon pine. It is anticipated that the work will be completed before the end of 2008.

According to Graham Hutcheon, group operations director, "This is a tangible sign of Edrington's confidence in the continued successful growth of The Macallan and represents a massive commitment to our Speyside operations. This new facility will provide yet another firm foundation for the future. We must invest in new infrastructure that will allow us to increase our production capacity and sustain the brand's growth potential as worldwide demand for The Macallan is at an all-time high.

“Edrington's declared strategy is to continue to premiumise its core Scotch whisky brands and achieve leading positions in key markets which provide superior growth opportunities, as well as developing and innovating new product offerings. This investment programme fits all those criteria.”

In addition to increasing production, The Macallan has also received planning permission from Moray Council to build up to six maturation warehouses, an operations building and ancillary support services, including a cooperage, on land at Overton Farm, adjacent to the distillery.

In order to make the expansion as unobtrusive as possible, The Macallan intends to plant around 125,000 trees over an area of 28 hectares and, once established, the planting will significantly reduce any visual impact and add a buffer over 15 metres in height to the landscape mounding. The first two warehouses will be completed later this year, with construction of the other four spread over the next five to 10 years.

Several thousand additional casks will also be purchased, and total investment on the site is believed to be in excess of £40 million. Four new, permanent jobs will be created, and there will be improvements to the distillery's visitor facilities, which cater for some 12,000 people each year.

Commenting on the developments, Ken Grier, Edrington's director of malts, says “Our peerless range of single malt whiskies have become increasingly popular around the world. The Macallan is ranked number two by value among the world's top selling single malts, earning admiration and respect from whisky connoisseurs worldwide. It is an exceptionally exciting time for the brand.”


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