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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
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Andrew Lanxon
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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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