The Macallan Distillery

Location Easter Elchies, Craigellachie, Banffshire AB38 9RX UK
Building Year 2018
Architect Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners
Structural Design Arup
Constructor Robertson
Customer The Macallan Distillers/Edrington Group
Products Used Kerto LVL
End-Use LVL is used in the prefabricated cheeks on both sides of the glulam beams and roof decks

The Macallan Distillery – Kerto LVL is an integral part of the undulating wooden roof structure

​The Macallan Distillery welcomes whisky enthusiasts from all over the world. The contemporary building combines an undulating wooden roof with glass and steel. Fast, light and green Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber) is part of the roof, which was fully prefabricated.

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience in Craigellachie, Speyside in Scotland is a stunning sight. From far above on the hillside, you see five domes, resting under a living meadow roof. As you get closer, the unique undulating wooden roof structure is revealed.

LVL is an essential part of the wooden roof structure, because Kerto LVL Q-panels and S-beams are used as cheeks on both sides of the glulam beams and Q-panels in the roof decks. Kerto LVL S-beams can also be found outside on the service road.

The construction of the Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience took only six months. It was a carefully coordinated operation, because the roof contains some 3,600 beams and 2,500 roof panels.

Values guide Metsä Group's operations 

The building includes a Visitor Experience, three still houses and a mash house with a common roof and fully glazed wall. This reflects the wishes of the Macallan Distillery, a premium brand, whose single malt whisky production dates back to 1824. The goal was a contemporary facility, celebrating phasing, authenticity and honesty.

“The Macallan Distillery wanted to have a production facility whose capacity could be added to if required. That led us to start the work from the idea of a production module,” says Toby Jeavons, Project Architect at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, a renowned international architectural practice responsible for the architecture.

Architectural principles

Wood showcases honesty

Authenticity and honesty are expressed in the open approach.

“Enthusiasts can see how whisky is produced, because the machinery can be viewed from the fully glazed Visitor Experience area. The architecture elevates the beautiful copper stills into something special,” says Jeavons.

The natural materials add to this.

“We wanted to celebrate the honesty of the materials rather than hide the roof structure with a ceiling. Wood is a nice counterpoint to the engineered, faceted roof structure, which consists of flat cassette panels and straight beams,” continues Jeavons.

Both Kerto LVL Q-panels and S-beams are used.

“Kerto LVL S-beams and Q-panels are an integral part of the structure of each beam, because they contribute to the overall dimensions. Every beam has the same dimension. We also achieve a contemporary aesthetic by using Kerto LVL, which has an omnidirectional surface,” says Jeavons.


Light LVL features great workability

The wooden parts were CNC machined and assembled at the Wiehag factory in Austria. The Kerto Q-panels and S-beams had high non-standard requirements.

“All Q-panels and S-beams arrived on time, and their quality and specifications were fully met. The Q-panels, for example, had to be very thin, with a sanded surface,” says Johannes Rebhahn, Sales Director International Timber Projects at Wiehag, who was responsible for the engineered wooden roof construction.

It was easy to add Kerto LVL to both sides of the glulam beams, because LVL has great workability while being a very strong and rigid material. It doesn’t warp or twist over time.

“Kerto LVL is a very good engineered wood material, because you can trust the material dimensions. In general, offsite construction is a great way to save construction time. When prefabrication such as cutting is done in the factory, and connections have been designed to be simple, the easier, safer and more cost-effective life on site is,” says Rebhahn.

​The roof consists of a wooden 3x3m waffle structure. The roof panels had to be triangular to achieve the complex geometry.

​The wooden roof is supported by a steel structure.



Wooden roof structure with steel support

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience features a wooden roof, supported by a steel structure. The roof consists of a wooden waffle structure, which is triangular with 3x3-metre diagonals.

The centre line of the wood beams meets the centre lines of the supporting steel tubes. As the steel tubes are smaller than the glulam beams, they “run” through the glulam beams.

The disposition of the glulam beams, which feature integrated Kerto LVL cheeks on both sides, was designed to balance the load path to the steel frame. The primary members – hybrid beams strengthened with steel – are interlaced with secondary members – regular beams. The timber grid and roof panels carry the heavy green roof loadings and all wind and snow loads down to the concrete foundation.


Strong connections

Kerto LVL Q-panels and S-beams are used as cheeks on both sides of the glulam beams. Kerto LVL is a very strong and rigid, yet light material.

​Kerto LVL Q-panels are used as roof panels in the ceiling.

​The connections are hidden behind the LVL panels. Strong steel hangers are used to transfer all shear and especially high-tension forces. There is also access to the steel dowel, which allowed a quick and safe installation process.

​Simple shear connectors are used in areas with a single span beam without tension forces.

Steel plates, hangers, connectors and screws are used in the timber-to-timber connections, which contributes to the stiffness and stability of the Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience. Hangers give strength to connections with high-tension forces, and the shear forces are tackled with steel connectors.

“The connections are beautifully hidden behind the beams, which feature Kerto LVL cheeks on both sides,” says Rebhahn.

Fire safety

Fire-resistant materials

The Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience is built according to Scottish fire safety regulations. The glazed wall between the distillery and Visitor Experience had to achieve two hours’ fire resistance, including the relevant timber roof area above the glazed wall.


Smooth cooperation

Rebhahn says that the cooperation with Metsä Wood in the construction project went very well.

“They understood our requirements and have been very flexible when we’ve asked for higher or non-standard specifications,” says Rebhahn.

Watch the video about the wood’s technical properties that enable it to be used for different kinds of construction projects. 

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