This famous distillery is located near the Craigellachie village in Moray, Scotland. It was founded in 1824 just one year after the enactment of the Excise Act. The founder ran the distillery until 1868 when he sold it. The new owners quickly refurbished the distillery and operated it until 1892. On that year Macallan distillery was sold to one of the biggest blending companies in Britain at the time.
Under the ownership of the blending company the distillery operated without major incidents. Production capacity was greatly expanded in 1954, 1965 and 1975; today the distillery has 21 pot stills in operation. For the most part, Macallan has produced whisky for blends since its origins. During the 1980's, when the industry faced a massive crisis, the distillery focused on the production of single malts.
Macallan distillery was among the first few to focus strongly on wood management. It also paid attention to the luxury market promoting its whisky as a deluxe product. This strategy worked for the brand, Macallan whiskies reach very high prices at auctions. This success has also gotten the Macallan brand into trouble. In the 1990's the distillery was criticised for releasing a commemorative edition of its whisky. The bottles in that commemorative release were a 'replica' of the very old Macallan whiskies acquired at an auction. The old and rare whiskies purchased from the mysterious collector turned out to be fake.
Those who criticised Macallan expressed their anger at the fact that the distillery actually profited from the sale of whisky 'replicating' a fake specimen. Other critics expressed their disappointment with the brand after it emerged that stocks of Macallan whisky were aged in bourbon barrels even though the brand had the following notice on its back label for many years:
'FOR REASONS NOT EVEN SCIENCE CAN WHOLLY EXPLAIN whisky has always matured best in oak casks that have contained sherry. Due to increasing expense and scarcity, other distillers no longer insist on sherry casks. THE MACALLAN DIRECTORS DO.'
The brand suffered a massive blow to its reputation among whisky connoisseurs and aficionados. Luckily for them whisky reviewer Michael Jackson wrote in the 1998 edition of his 'Complete Guide To Single Malt Scotch' the following about Macallan: 'The Rolls-Royce of single malts is a soubriquet often bestowed upon this persistent winner of competitions'. The brand's marketing team ran a rather successful campaign using that 'soubriquet' for their whisky in the US.
Marketing and controversies aside, Macallan whisky is a favourite around the world. New markets and collectors pay extortionate amounts of money for the limited edition bottlings. In 2013 it was announced that a new distillery was going to be built next to the current Macallan distillery. The new distillery was built at a cost of approximately £100 million.