Designing the modern whisky distillery – (weblog)

Olli Blair grew up watching youngsters’s TV favorite Play Faculty, and recollects: ‘They at all times had this little movie via the arched window of… I don’t know, a milk bottle manufacturing facility? I discovered it fascinating.’ At present, as the architect behind the new Raasay distillery on the island close to Skye, he’s hoping to encourage the same baby-like fascination amongst guests.

Being a component-time resident on the island, he has proven round loads of whisky fans, eager for an early glimpse of the distillery. ‘What they’re in search of is a few form of bragging rights, some form of possession,’ he says. ‘With the onslaught of globalisation, persons are in search of one thing distinctive and of a spot.’

The should be rooted and a part of a group is a continuing chorus amongst modern distillery architects. The purpose is for a effectively-conceived area for whisky-making that matches its setting in an aesthetically pleasing and – hopefully – memorable approach.

‘To be frank, the distillery itself is a tin field through which a posh chemical engineering course of takes place,’ says Blair. ‘What we’re designing is the envelope that goes round it.’

Raasay distillery

Tin field: The performance of distilleries like Raasay is lifted by their ‘envelope’ and environment

Raasay’s design options black zinc cladding, gold shingle, a customer centre and the conversion of a Victorian villa that was on its final legs as a resort when purchased by distillery proprietor R&B Distillers.

On the inside, the stills, dubbed ‘the prima ballerina’ by Blair, take centre stage, though their presence is considerably eclipsed by the view. ‘If it’s not the greatest in Scotland, then it’s fairly shut,’ he says, describing the Cuillin Hills looming past the dappled waters of the Sound of Raasay.

Then once more, will it's as magical as the view from the stillhouse at Ardnahoe? ‘I designed it so that you stand trying via the stills at the Paps of Jura and as much as Mull,’ says mission director Iain Hepburn of the new Hunter Laing distillery on Islay, situated between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain.

‘As a result of the climate modifications a lot, on some days Mull appears to push away into the distance,’ he says, ‘however then the sky will all of a sudden clear and it'll rush in the direction of you.’

Ardnahoe distillery

Nonetheless room with a view: Constructing work in progress at Ardnahoe distillery on Islay

Hepburn met the native planning authorities and recollects: ‘The one factor they had been eager on was that the distillery actively resembled a distillery, and wasn’t only a conglomeration of sheds bolted collectively.’

Effectively, they'd nothing to worry with Ardnahoe, which was initially deliberate to have its personal kiln and ground maltings, full with a pagoda (or, if you prefer, cupola) roof. The pagoda has been the defining motif of distillery design since Charles Doig put in the first one at Dailuaine in 1889. It's to Scotch whisky distilleries what Tennent’s illuminated crimson ‘T’ is to Scottish pubs.

The thought of getting ground maltings at Ardnahoe has now been deserted, however the pagoda roof will stay, together with conventional worm tubs. The worms had been ‘very tough to engineer, as a result of there aren't any calculations as there are with condensers’, explains Hepburn. ‘We’ve needed to fly a kite and hope we’re proper.’

In the meantime, equally conventional from the exterior is Torabhaig on Skye’s south coast – a lot in order that it appears to be like to have been ‘right here on the shore, trying over to Knoydart, for 100 years’, wrote Dave Broom in October final yr.

Torabhaig distillery

Pint pot: Torabhaig distillery on Skye needed to be made to suit into a comparatively cramped area

The distillery has been artfully squeezed into its cramped area – a farm steading and courtyard, the place the late Sir Iain Noble dreamed of constructing whisky.

‘His plans have been significantly modified,’ says Neil Mathieson, CEO of Mossburn Distillers, who insists Torabhaig’s pagoda is there for purely sensible causes – to cover the chimney. There might be a café, store and tasting room, however ‘our most important objective is to make whisky; we’re not a vacationer vacation spot’.

The identical is true of Dalmunach, constructed for Pernod Ricard on the website of the outdated Imperial distillery. ‘It was designed purely for making the product, and isn't meant to be open to the public however, at the identical time, there was an actual satisfaction from the consumer to create one thing memorable,’ says Mark Fresson, director at architect Archail Norr.

‘They didn’t need a shed, they needed to do the website justice. It’s a really seen website, being adjoining to the Speyside Manner and bang in the centre of the village of Carron.’

The design was impressed by the setting – a stone’s throw from the River Spey – and whisky’s core substances of grain and water, with a pond in entrance of three linear buildings organized like a sheaf of barley, with one every for mashing, fermenting and distilling.

‘Being a cluster of buildings, quite than having all of it beneath one roof, permits it to maintain to a extra human scale,’ says Fresson, whose father as soon as labored at Imperial.

With the new distillery ‘it was a relatively modest finances, so we determined to maintain to a really restricted palette of supplies’, he continues. ‘We went for a easy moist sprint render and a good pitched roof.’

Dalmunach distillery sketch

Early sketch: Dalmunach distillery’s define is predicated on a sheaf of barley

But, no matter the constraints, Dalmunach succeeds superbly and was shortlisted for plenty of architectural prizes. If ever it turns into identified for its personal single malt, its proprietor could must rethink not permitting the punters in.

In the meantime, Glasgow’s new Clydeside distillery lastly opened its doors in November. Tim Morrison’s mission has advanced into one thing a lot larger than a necessity for whisky for his impartial bottling agency, AD Rattray.

Its purpose of celebrating Glasgow’s forgotten whisky heritage was to be as essential as distilling 500,000 litres of pure alcohol (lpa) a yr. The positioning chosen was the Pump Home.

‘It was proper on the vacationer route close to the new transport museum, Kelvingrove and the Hydro, so there was a very good footfall,’ explains John Moore of Hypostyle, the mission’s architect.

‘It was based in 1877, with Tim Morrison’s nice-grandfather the contractor who constructed it, so there’s a robust household connection. And it powered the gates of the Queen’s Dock via which a lot Scotch whisky flowed.’

So the website ticked lots of containers, however it was not with out challenges and unexpected prices and, as extra buyers got here on board, all of them needed a say.

Clydeside distillery

Glasgow by night time: Clydeside distillery’s website is true on the metropolis’s vacationer route

For the metropolis fathers, ‘the key was to discover a lengthy-standing use for an iconic constructing’, says Moore. ‘The design was to be a recent modern constructing to behave as a foil to the Victorian Pump Home.

‘We had been very acutely aware to not use architectural clichés when it comes to a pagoda roof. The shape follows the perform – there’s no malting on website. However the stills are in a glass gable on the River Clyde and lit up at night time. That’s the cash shot.’

For a constructing that has tried and failed at every part from an Indian restaurant to a crèche, and lay derelict for 5 years, let’s hope it pumps out whisky for a lot of many years to come back.

That leaves the grandest design in Scotch proper now: the new, semi-subterranean Macallan distillery, 5 miles from Dalmunach and with a finances 4 or 5 occasions the dimension. With architect Rogers Stirk Harbour & Companions of Millennium Dome fame, and designer Atelier Brückner behind the customer centre, expectations are running high.

As final-minute changes are made, Macallan and its architects are making no additional remark, however between them they've definitely raised the bar for distillery design.

However will the £100m-plus new super-distillery ship the promised ‘wow’ issue for guests? We’ll have to attend till the summer time to seek out out.

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Designing the modern whisky distillery - (weblog)