Macallan Whisky Distillery Opens

27. May 2018



The Macallan - the Rolls Royce among whiskey brands, the internationally-acclaimed architect Rogers Stirk Harbor + Partners, the distinctive rolling hills of Scotland and a highly aesthetic dome construction - this impressive combination is unified in the recently opened Macallan Whiskey Distillery in the Speyside region of Scotland. The entire facility with production as well as exhibition and visitor centre was completed within three and a half years. The total investment amounts to around £190,000,000.

The most complex roof construction in the world

 WIEHAG, the Altheim-based Upper Austrian timber construction company, developed the engineered timber roof construction for the extraordinary architectural design in the form of five adjacent domes, which taper into a generous canopy. “The Macallan distillery exceeds expectations on many levels. The strength of the design is most evident in the sensitive treatment of the landscape and the vast timber roof. As a result of this, form and function are one”, says Bob Lang, director of the build designer Arup.

1,800 single girders, 2,700 roof elements and 380,000 individual components were installed. Four temporary block-laminated glulam columns support the entire roof construction.  As a full-service supplier in engineered timber, WIEHAG was responsible for the construction, timber engineering, production, logistics and assembly for the entire roof area of ​​12,300 m2.  In April 2016, the spectacular assembly of the roof support construction began, which was completed in December of the same year.

The domed roof stretches over a length of 207 meters. An existing hill was demolished and the building embedded in the beautiful hills of Scotland, creating a structure that moulds seamlessly into the landscape. The whisky production facility is located under four domes. Under the fifth dome, the architects designed an exhibition area and a visitor centre with a café, shop and bar.

“We have been successful in the UK for over 20 years and have been able to execute many innovative projects. The Macallan Distillery is the most complicated engineered timber roof construction in the world. The advantage of wooden constructions is particularly noticeable in wide-span buildings. For this complex project, we needed a new approach and opted for a parametric design to realize the complex geometry,” says WIEHAG owner and CEO, Erich Wiesner.

 The renowned architecture firm, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) won the International Architectural Competition with their design for the project. Among their references are the Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 and The Centre Pompidou in Paris. Leading architect Graham Stirk visualized this unique design. 

A tribute to the landscape and sustainability

Macallan is one of Scotland's oldest licensed distilleries –in operation since 1824 – and is located in Easter Elchies on the lower reaches of the famous Spey River. " The Macallan Distillery is a tribute to the beauty of Scotland's natural landscape," said Chief Executive Ian Curle of Builder Edrington.

Above all, natural materials such as wood, glass, stone and pasture grass for the green roof were used. Furthermore, Macallan was built in low-energy construction and with sustainable water management.

Construction Details

The building dimensions are 63 x 207 meters. The roof starts at an eave height of approximately 3 meters. The peak of the dome is at about 18 meters (a cupola in the dome peaks at about 27 meters).

The wooden supporting structure consists of 1800 simple curved beams with deburred edges and covered with Kerto (®) (a laminated lumber veneer). The wooden roof is made up of box panels. The frame is comprised of solid structural timber, which is covered by a 15 mm thick laminated veneer.  The top sheathing is made of OSB. There are roughly 2700 triangular and rectangular-shaped roof elements, which extend over an area of ​​12,300 m2.

The overall construction is mounted on a secondary steel frame, which in turn rests on a concrete floor slab. The roof follows the architectural grid of 3 x 3 meters. The beams are segmented according to and following their linear inclination to the dome.

The beams are 160 mm wide and are covered with a laminated lumber veneer. Where structural conditions necessitate it, the laminated veneer is glued to directly to the glulam member. Basically, the laminated veneer is secured according to a predefined fastening layout. For aesthetic reasons, the glulam members are deburred and also covered by the veneer along the underside of the canopy.  The edge of the veneer lumber is cut in such a fashion that it runs parallel to the underside of the truss and also perpendicular to the front face of the veneer. The veneer on the topside of the glulam member is segmented and deburred, so that the chamfers/grooves serve as roof support and bearing point for the roof elements.

The steel substructure made of tube-like elements rises like a raised octagon. Straps have been welded to these “tubes,” which are then connected to a double strap on the sides by means of bolts. The wooden roof is built on top of this substructure

Project Info:


The Edrington Group

General contractor:  

Robertson Construction Group/Stirling


Arup Group/London

Wooden roof construction and Engineering:

WIEHAG GmbH/Altheim


Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners/London

Structural Steel substructure: 

SHS Stahlverarbeitung GmbH/Burbach

Total Construction costs:  

190.000.000 Britische Pfund

Construction schedule:

April 2016 bis Dezember 2016

General Construction Schedule:

April 2015 – Dezember 2017