One of Speyside’s most celebrated distilleries is preparing to reopen for visitors next month.
Macallan’s home near Craigellachie was shut for tours in March as the country’s tourism industry closed down to try and limit the spread of Covid-19.
Now the distiller is preparing to open its doors once again with enhanced cleaning, extra precautions for social distancing and revamped tours.
Visits will initially be limited to weekends while management gauge demand, with the shop, restaurant and bar due to open on September 19 and tours scheduled to resume from September 26.
It is understood Macallan has estimated up to an 80% drop in footfall through its doors due to most of its visitors coming from abroad.
However, Moray MP Douglas Ross and Moray MSP Richard Lochhead both believe the limited reopening will boost the local tourism industry with knock-on benefits for other firms in the area.
Macallan’s new £140million distillery has attracted thousands from across the world since opening in 2018 with visitors eager to see the site’s intricate architecture, which has been celebrated in design awards.
Stuart Cassells, general manager of the Macallan estate, said: “The past few months have been exceptionally difficult for our community and many others around the world.
“The impact has been significant, and we hope that reopening our gates will help the Speyside tourism and hospitality sector.
“While changes have been necessary, guests will still receive exceptional hospitality from start to finish.”
Macallan’s arrangements to welcome back visitors have been recognised by Visit Scotland’s “we’re good to go” standard for complying with Covid-19 guidelines.
New tours being unveiled following the closure include drams being paired with a two-course meal at the restaurant and an exploration of the whisky from acorn to glass.
Confirmation of Macallan’s reopening in September further bolsters the recovery of Speyside’s tourism industry after Strathisla in Keith opened this month following Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glen Moray and Aberlour in July.
Mr Lochhead described the latest reopening as an “encouraging” boost for the sector.
He said: “I appreciate the industry has had more than its fair share of challenges in recent months and our Speyside distilleries, particularity the new Macallan distillery, are a mainstay of our local economy.
“The sector is important for local jobs and given the ripple effect for other sectors like tourism we must send out the message that the whisky industry is open for businesses – given that whisky related tourism has boomed in recent years, this will help our local economic recovery.”
Mr Ross said: “Macallan’s reopening is very welcome and a further sign that things are beginning to return to a form of normality.
“I’m sure this will be a boost to other tourism businesses on Speyside as well.”