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Inside Macallan's $190 million temple to whisky

With amazing looks and a focus on sustainability, Macallan's Scotch distillery is something to behold.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon
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1 of 23 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Founded in 1824, Macallan has grown to become one of Scotland's top three producers of single malt whisky, with a reputation for quality known around the world.

Based in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands, Macallan opened the doors to its brand-new distillery in 2018. It's a 140 million pound (over $190 million) temple to whisky, merging modern construction techniques with a conscious environmental effort. 

As part of CNET's 2021 Road Trip series, we took a step inside. 

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Constructed with an interlaced roof of more than 2,500 pieces of Scandinavian spruce, the inside has the feel of an exclusive hotel spa. 

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The roof is designed like hills that rise and fall the whole length of the building.

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The roof mimics the surrounding hills, allowing the distillery to not so much be in the countryside as be a part of it. 

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The domes hide circles of handmade copper-pot stills. 

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The distillery has 36 such stills, allowing it to produce a whopping 15 million liters of spirit each year at full capacity (almost 4 million gallons), although it actually distills around 11 million liters of spirit per year (nearly 3 million gallons).

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The copper stills are huge, and they're beautiful to behold. 

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A peek inside one of the many stainless steel fermentation tanks.

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The mass of copper piping looks almost like some vast steampunk pipe organ.

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Copper stills.

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Visitors to the distillery walk up the wide, sweeping driveway.

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Highland cows graze on the farmland around the distillery.

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There's a large bar area beneath one of the giant wooden domes, with hundreds of bottles to sample from.

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Giant glass windows run the length of the building, allowing for unobstructed views of the beautiful surroundings.

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The distillery sits close to the river Spey. Speyside is a region of Scotland well known for its whisky, with more than 50 distilleries in this area alone. 

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Neat, with ice, or as part of a cocktail? Many whisky purists think neat is the only way to drink Scotch, but Macallan -- and many more modern Scotch drinkers -- say it's up to you. It's your drink, after all, and you should enjoy it the way you want. 

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The giant domed roof is supported by a huge, interlaced steel frame.

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Once the spirit has distilled, it goes into oak casks to mature -- sometimes for several decades. 

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Macallan's aim, like that of most producers of single malt whisky, is to ensure the whisky it makes is identical year after year.

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To ensure consistency, the distillers pay careful attention to fermentation time and temperature.

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Wastewater is thoroughly treated before being either returned to the River Spey or reused for cooling. Solid waste is taken to a local biomass plant, with the energy being returned to the national grid. 

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The natural sunlight flooding in through the immense windows allows the copper pots to shine vibrantly with their natural color. 

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One of the many enormous fermentation tanks.

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