Macallan Whisky Distillery

Macallan Whisky Distillery & Story

Macallan whisky distillery is located in the heart of the Scottish Speyside whisky region. Situated just off the B9102, north of Craigallachie.

The Macallan Whisky Distillery has been crafting richly sherry single malt whiskies for over 190 years.

How the Macallan Whisky Distillery story began

Established by Alexander Reid in 1824 when he obtained a license to operate on a small hill overlooking the River Spey in the village of Craigellachie.

The following year, Reid formed the Alexander Reid & Co remaining head of the distillery, known as Macallan, until his death in 1847.

His son, also named Alexander, led the company until his own death in 1858, succeeded Reid.

In the meantime, on the death of his farther Alexander Reid took on James Davidson and James Shearer Priest as partners who both entered the company in 1848.

James Davidson, had made his fortune as a corn merchant, eventually emerged as sole proprietor of the distillery.

Davidson was attributed with instituting a policy of purchasing only high-grade barley for use in distilling its whisky, then known as The Craigellachie.

After Davidson’s death in 1868, operation of the distillery was taken over by James Stuart under a tenant arrangement.

James Stuart went on to own and operate a number of distilleries in the region, purchased the Macallan distillery outright in 1886.

A prolonged recession brought Stuart into financial difficulties during the 1870s. Help came from an unexpected source.

However, in 1879, French vines were struck by the phylloxera pest, which destroyed most of the country’s vineyards.

For more than ten years, brandy remained unavailable in the United Kingdom, leading to a surge of interest in Scottish whisky.

Roderick Kemp became the new owner of the Macallan distillery in 1892. He renamed the company as R. Kemp Macallan-Glenlivet in order to emphasize its position in the by then world famous Glenlivet area.

Under his control Roderick Kemp then set to work rebuilding the Macallan distillery, improving the company’s stills, adding new warehouse facilities, and other buildings.

Kemp continued to make improvement through to the end of the century and expanding Macallan’s production. Kemp also developed most of the company’s quality standards, which included aging its whiskeys only in unbroken Spanish oak sherry casks.

Although Roderick Kemp died in 1909, the management of the distillery was taken over by The Roderick Kemp Trust.

The Kemp family remained in control of the distillery until it was acquired by Highland Distillers Ltd in 1996

During the early 1960s there was a rise in interest for single malt whisky, and a slump in blended whiskey sales, this encouraged Macallan-Glenlivet to increase its whisky production.

The company none the less maintained its commitment to its traditional distilling methods that included the use of small, handcrafted stills.

So instead of converting to larger, industrial-sized stills, the company began adding new matching small stills, doubling the number of stills to 12 in 1965.

The company’s further expansion plans required financial backing and In 1968, the company went public, a move meant to finance the laying down of stock for ageing, as well as to continue its building programme.

Among the investors in the company were Highland Distillers, France’s Remy Cointreau, and Japan’s Suntory.

After changing its name to Macallan-Glenlivet in 1970, the company began construction of a new generation of stills, adding another six stills in 1974. The following year, the company added three more to reach a total of 21 stills.

In 1977 the Macallan distillery had already earned international recognition for its whisky.

In order to capitalize on its growing reputation, the company decided to launch its first official, branded single malt.

Called “The Macallan”  and is recognised world wide as one of the finest Scotch whiskies ever. Only ever matured in ex sherry casks from Jerez Spain.

During the 1990s following a series of cross sharing agreements between Highland Distillers, France’s Remy Cointreau, and Japan’s Suntory.

Highland Distillers became the major shareholder in Macallan- Glenlivit. Highland Distillers themselves became the object of takeover speculation and by the end of the decade the company agreed to be acquired by the Edrington Group.

The Macallan Whisky Distillery.

Founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid
Location; Speyside region. Central district Aberlour.
Water source; On site bore holes.

Macallan Whisky Distillery Equipment as at 2015.

Number one plant:
Stainless steel Lauter mash tun
19 Stainless steel washbacks, 3 added in 2014.
5 Wash stills and 10 spirit stills.

Number two plant:

Semi Lauter Mash Tun.
6 Wooden Washbacks, 3 Stainless Steel Washbacks.
2 Wash Stills.
4 Spirit Stills.

Under construction is a third plant due to open in 2017, consisting of 5 buildings:
A new visitor centre in the first.
Second, mash house containing two mash tuns.
Three still houses, each with 4 wash stills and 8 spirit stills.
Giving a capacity of 16 million litres.
Matured in Spanish oak sherry casks
Also now some American oak bourbon casks.

Macallan Whisky Distillery
Macallan Whisky Distillery Logo

Our Top 3 Macallan malt whiskies

Take a tour of the Macallan distillery

The Macallan whisky distillery visitors centre is well worth a visit and regularly run guided tours of the distillery throughout the course of the day. A number of the tours include tasting sessions where you can sample some of the drams they have to offer.

Booking Essential

Click here for more information on the Macallan visitors centre

Our Macallan Whisky Range - In stock and available to buy