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Review: Step inside Speyside’s stunning Macallan Distillery and uncover the mastery experience

Inside the Macallan Distillery.

Hidden in the rolling hillside of Speyside lies one of Scotland’s most luxurious distilleries.

While its exterior wouldn’t look out of place in a movie like The Hobbit, its interior screams opulence with thousands of panels of Scandinavian wood making up the world’s largest free standing roof.

The Macallan Distillery is unlike any other venue I have visited and is also the world’s only subterranean distillery.

It is the epitome of luxury and it is clear that the brand has invested a substantial amount of money into its interactive and highly stimulating distillery experience.

The walkway leading up to the entrance of the Macallan Distillery.

The welcome from the team is warm, like a cosy fire. And all of the staff are very knowledgeable. I was very impressed with our tour guide Zoe who had a wealth of knowledge about the brand and its modern home.

The main visitor entrance is a feast for the eyes with a whisky wall taller than any other I have seen.

Invited to try the Macallan Mastery Experience, this is one tour that I think is aimed more so at those who really appreciate whisky, or would like to mark a special occasion due to its £250 per head price tag.

However, what I will say is this tour is worth its weight in gold.

The five-course tasting menu

The first part of the experience was the five-course tasting menu in the brand’s very own fine dining brasserie, Elchies, where head chef Pawel Sowa, greeted my boyfriend and I and talked us through the menu we were about to devour.

Served with paired wines, this was one of the best meals I have had in a long time, never mind in a distillery. Each course was a work of art, and the food was carefully and strategically placed on the plate to ensure we got the most out of every mouthful.

Kellas Estate venison.

Our server Jack took great care in introducing every dish to us, and also recited a lot of information about every wine pairing.

The menu: 

  • Starter: Chestnut espuma with pickled pear and honey truffle
  • To follow: Line-caught sea trout with trout mousse and cucumber
  • Main: Kellas Estate venison with parsnip, hazelnut and a tobacco jus
  • To follow: The Macallan malt panna cotta with new make spirit granita (around 65%)
  • Dessert: Chocolate mousse with Macallan Sherry Oak 12-Year-Old namelaka
  • To finish: Chocolate macarons, coffee and tea plus a dram of Macallan 12-Year-Old Double Cask

Each course got better and better and the display and theatrics around some of the dishes was incredible.

Chocolate mousse with The Macallan sherry oak 12-Year-Old namelaka

The Macallan Mastery Experience

After the extravagant lunch we were treated to a tour of the distillery.

The first stop was the wall of history, or what Macallan describes as the “Jewel Wall” that the brand has created at the entrance of the venue.

Hundreds of bottles and collectors items line this wall, some dating back to the 1800s. Macallan has been producing single malt whisky since 1824.

The wall of bottles leading into the

Our tour guide, Zoe, showed us some of the top and most popular bottlings and collaborations the Macallan brand has been a part of over the years, taking us on a trip down memory lane about how the brand came about.

This museum of whisky archives was incredible to see up close, although understandably, all of the bottles and trinkets were safely locked within glass cabinets.

One of the oldest bottles of Macallan on show.

The stills

Moving on, we were led upstairs where we headed along to the east side of the building where the stills lie.

This is where the real magic happens at the sustainably-focused venue.

The distillery.

The room in which the operation lies sits at around 40C and boasts 36 stills and 21 wash backs.

They use water from the Spey from four boreholes and use a range of barley, including some that is grown on 100 acres of the 485 acre estate.

The process of making whisky is the same as any other distillery, but what makes Macallan stand out is that it currently produces 15 million litres of Scotland’s national drink a year.

Inside the distillery.

They hope to double this in the future by doubling the amount of stills and mash tuns they have. It also boasts the biggest mash tun in Speyside.

Moving on, we were taken to a separate area which focuses solely on the barrels the whisky firm uses.

Macallan boasts 400,000 casks and only ever uses each one twice. Once they have lived out life at the distillery, they are then sold to independent businesses, cooperages or distilleries.

The mash tuns and stills.

This was an immersive experience with smells and smoke all coming into play. A quick video was also played about the casks and we were then taken to another area where a small cinema screen was hidden within a room.

This showing outlined the Macallan brand story and some of the main individuals involved in the brand now.

Macallan Cave Privee

When we arrived at the impressive Macallan Cave Privee, the home of the brand’s private cask collection, excitement got the better of me.

The circular vault in the middle of the venue was donned with whisky casks which lit up around us as we made our way to the end of the walkway. At the end was a bottle of Macallan Shery Oak 25 Years Old for us to sample.

Inside the Macallan Cave Prive

Some of the firm’s finest and rarest whiskies are available to sample here, highlighting the brand’s full-bodied signature portfolio.

We were then guided back upstairs to the bar for a whisky tasting and were treated to a whisky flight designed to showcase the quality and diversity of the brand.

Food and drink journalist, Julia Bryce (right), enjoys a dram.

We sampled three different expressions including The Macallan Edition Number 5 at 48.5% ABV, a Macallan 18 double cask at 43% ABV and Macallan’s Oscuro which is 46.5% ABV.

Each was entirely individual and Zoe talked us through the tasting notes and styles of the whiskies.

After we had enjoyed our drams, she led us to The Macallan Boutique where we were seated in a private room.

The Macallan 18.

Only certain exclusive bottlings are open to certain guests at any one time and we were given the opportunity to purchase any of the three unique bottlings we were shown. Prices ranged from £900 to around £2,000.

After the tour finished we received a glass to commemorate our visit.

The verdict

The Macallan Mastery Experience is unlike any distillery tour I have ever participated in.

Not only is the guest thought of at every moment throughout, with service in the dining room seamless and knowledgeable tour guides, but the drams selected to be sampled are extremely delicious.

While it is expensive at £250, this is an experience best saved for a special occasion or for those looking to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

The food was divine and the building itself is a work of architectural brilliance.

The four-hour experience is absolutely worth booking if you are a big whisky fan and the stunning views of Speyside make it all that more special.

For further information, visit or to book an experience contact


Price: £250 per person

Address: The Macallan Estate, Easter Elchies, Aberlour AB38 9RX

T: 01340 318 000


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