Outstanding distillery buildings you must visit

Outstanding distillery buildings you must visit
© Shutterstock

Distilleries by design: 6 spirits monuments you must visit

Wineries are not the only places that are home to architectural masterpieces – there are plenty of distilleries whose buildings stand out too. Here are six worth checking out for yourself.

The Macallan, Speyside, Scotland

In 2018, the legendary Scotch whisky producer The Macallan opened a new hybrid distillery and visitor centre. Naturally, being The Macallan, it was an outstanding building. The supporting element – literally – is its complicated wooden roof, which blends harmoniously into Scotland's hilly landscape with its gentle wave form. This masterpiece of engineering, which has 380,000 individual components, was made from wood sourced from Scandinavia, sanded in Germany, assembled in Austria and then moved to its final destination in Speyside. The actual stills, are rather short and squat and arranged in a circle in the middle of the building. Around them runs a platform that can be walked on. The finished appearance is organic and yet futuristic. A unique experience and a must for every whisky fan visiting in Speyside.


The Macallan in Speyside, Scotland
© Shutterstock
The Macallan in Speyside, Scotland

Casa Silencio, Oaxaca, Mexico 

In the municipality of Xaagá in Oaxaca, a luxury resort and mezcal distillery opened its doors in 2021. Casa Silencio, a secluded retreat for spirits lovers, has just six guest rooms. The materials used all come from the surrounding area, the buildings fit perfectly into their surroundings. The 16-acre property is located in the so-called Valle de Silencio or Valley of Silence. The house belongs to mezcal brand El Silencio, which is produced in locally and sometimes within the resort. Guests are not only invited to follow the production process in the eco-distillery, but also to taste rare bottlings. The best place to do this is in the spectacular outdoor dining room, equipped with fireplaces.


Bombay Sapphire, Hampshire, England

Legendary gin distiller Bombay Sapphire has been located in a former paper mill in the small town of Laverstoke about two hours' drive south-east of London since 2014. The old brick buildings exude an irresistible industrial charm. Bombay Sapphire, however, has crowned the complex. On the main square of the site are two intertwining glasshouses that seem to pour like water fountains from one of the historic buildings into the river that flows through here. They serve as greenhouses for the ten different plants that have been responsible for the taste of Bombay Sapphire since 1761. The smaller greenhouse is nine metres wide and eleven metres high and houses tropical plants and herbs; the larger one measures twelve metres wide and 15 metres high and is designed for Mediterranean plants. Anchored on their own platform in the riverbed, the greenhouses are constructed from 32 folded glass strips.


The Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery, Sichuan, China

The Chuan is the first whisky distillery in China operated by an international company. It was opened last year by spirits giant Pernod Ricard. The plant is located at the foot of Emei Shan, one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China. The company invested $150 million in the facility, which combines modern architecture with traditional Chinese elements. Natural stone as well as exposed concrete and wooden elements were used in the construction. In addition to the production facilities, there is a permanent art exhibition in the distillery. With the visitor centre, which is scheduled to open in 2023, the distillery hopes to attract two million tourists in its first decade. The distillery is also sustainable – 100% of its electricity comes from renewable sources, minimising the use of natural gas and offsetting remaining emissions in a Sichuan biogas programme. 


Hendrick’s Gin Palace, Ayrshire, Scotland

Renowed gin distillery Hendrick's expanded in 2018 with a spectacular new building: a Victorian-style 'Gin Palace'. There, one can marvel at the enchanting enclosed garden that leads into an imposing Victorian-style palm house. In two adjoining botanical greenhouses, a wide variety of plants from all over the world are grown. Master Distiller Lesley Gracie's laboratory is the heart of the facility, with a wondrous aroma library, an auditorium for academic training and a suitably stylish bar. Also included in the expansion are two new distilleries that have doubled the facility's production capacity. The complex has been designed specifically for the brand's aesthetic, drawing on references from the Victorian era while offering a modern and updated design.


Wild Turkey Distillery, Kentucky, US

Bourbon whiskey has been distilled on Wild Turkey Hill for generations. The distillery's breathtaking location above the Kentucky River is worth a visit alone. A modern visitor centre inspired by the silhouette of a Kentucky tobacco barn opened in 2014. At first glance, the building's architecture has a classic, unspectacular appearance before it reveals geometric shapes and a stunning view over the adjacent Kentucky River. The building has repeatedly won architectural awards. Under the peaked roof, the building houses exhibition and event spaces on the first floor and a tasting room on the second floor, which features a floating cork floor and a reused copper bourbon still. Douglas fir grilles, ash wall panels and a pine ceiling give the interior warm tones and contrast with the dark-stained exterior.


Benjamin Herzog
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