26 Jun 2018
World class is much more easily said than delivered, but I can surely describe one project from a Glasgow company as the best you will likely see anywhere on the planet.
Built on the glorious Easter Elchies Estate close to Craigellachie in Moray, the £140m investment in production of one of the world’s best selling single malt whiskies is a masterpiece.
Crouching on the side of a hill like a visiting space ship, it resembles no other distillery you will ever see and is proof positive that a Scottish company can create the very best in its industry.
Edrington’s most recent annual review in 2017 reported on the progress it was making against its 2020 strategy. One primary aim is plainly stated as Perfect the Macallan. The distillery is a sign of what that means.
Whilst the practical outcome will be an increase in production capacity of around a third, the statement the distillery and visitor centre makes about the quality of the brand as a world leader is just as important.
There is a strong international influence. Its designers are Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners, with a formidable track record including Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
It was no surprise when Ian Curle, Edrington’s CEO, said to me that one benchmark plant the team had visited in the planning for the new facility was the BMW factory and experience centre in Munich.
But local heritage is also important, demonstrated most obviously in the distinctive stills made by Forsyths, based in neighbouring Rothes.
And of course Edrington itself remains heavily influenced by its past, not least since its majority shareholder is The Robertson Trust set up by Edrington’s former owners, the Robertson sisters, back in 1961.
The Trust uses the dividends it gets from the company to invest in charitable work for people and communities all across Scotland. So every time you drink an Edrington brand you are very likely adding to their work.
The Scottish Economic Strategy has as its four objectives growth in investment, in international trade, in innovation and in the achievement of an inclusive society.
Edrington’s new distillery looks to me like the perfect example of a project that can justifiably say it’s delivering everything the country could want.