Edrington Group boss Ian Curle hailed “an exciting new chapter” in the whisky firm’s history as work got under way on a £100million new distillery and visitor centre yesterday.
Elgin-based Robertson Group is carrying out the construction project at The Macallan site at Craigellachie on Speyside.
The Macallan is one of the world’s best-selling single malt whiskies and its distillery, founded in 1824, was one of the first in Scotland to be legally licensed.
It is one of the core brands of Glasgow-based Edrington, whose other products include The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark blended whiskies and Highland Park single malt.
The firm’s big investment comes after a slowdown in global sales for Scotland’s national drink.
Trade figures published in September showed the total value of whisky sold overseas during the six months to June 30 was £1.77billion, an 11% fall from the same period in 2013.
The total volume shipped overseas in the most recent period was down by 5.5% to 532million standard 70cl bottles.
But whisky firms are pouring money into expansion at distilleries around Scotland in anticipation of a swift return to export sales growth as global economic conditions improve.
Edrington’s investment aims to make The Macallan the “leading premium spirit in the world”.
Mr Curle, who has been Edrington’s chief executive for more than 10 years and has just stepped down as chairman of the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “Today represents an exciting new chapter for Edrington.
“Over the next three years we will bring The Macallan brand experience to life in a truly unique style.”
Robertson Group chief executive Bill Robertson added: “The site will be dramatically transformed over the coming months as the iconic distillery and visitor centre starts to take shape.
“We will deliver a truly beautiful and inspirational building.”
The new facility received planning permission in August, with the project expected to deliver significant economic benefits.
Designed by international architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP), the new home of The Macallan is scheduled to open to the public in spring 2017.
Graham Stirk, lead architect and partner for RSHP, which won prestigious awards for its work at Madrid Barajas Airport and Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in London, said: “Our design for the distillery and visitor centre celebrates the whisky-making process as well as the environment that has inspired it.
“The design is essentially a series of a grass-covered undulating roof forms that are sympathetic to this area.”