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Five-star welcome

VisitScotland Regional Director, Jo Robinson, VisitScotland Chief Executive, Malcolm Roughead and General Manager at The Macallan, Gail Cleaver - credit Alex Mitchell

A new distillery and visitor experience, which recently underwent a £140m transformation, has been given VisitScotland’s top Quality Assurance award.

The Macallan, at Craigellachie, achieved its five-star Visitor Attraction status on the same day that the VisitScotland board held its meeting at the centre.

As part of the Engagement Strategy of the VisitScotland Board, their meeting in Moray Speyside is one in a series which will be held across the country this year.

The tour allows the chairman, John Thurso and the board members to hear directly from industry stakeholders to gain a better understanding of both positive developments in the regions and any challenges facing the industry. VisitScotland CEO Malcolm Roughead also attended.

Macallan General Manager, Gail Cleaver, and Master Distiller, Nick Savage, took board members on a tour of the distillery prior to their meeting.

Founded in 1824 by Alexander Reid, the Macallan nestles in the hillside above the river Spey. The building is surrounded by a 150-hectare estate. It was one of the first distillers in Scotland to be legally licensed and since then, has built a reputation as one of the world’s leading single malt whiskies.

Earlier this year, the distillery unveiled its new £140m distillery and visitor centre, designed by internationally-acclaimed architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners. The project took more than three years and will allow production to increase by about a third.

Taking its cues from ancient Scottish hills and maximising the aesthetic beauty of the building, the distillery and visitor experience was designed to minimise the visual impact on the local landscape whilst having the maximum awe-inspiring impact for whisky lovers from all over the world who visit.

The Macallan was recently included in the Lonely Planet guide, which named Scotland’s Highlands & Islands as ‘Best in Travel 2019’. The distillery was included within a suggested itinerary for visitors to the Highlands and Ms Cleaver was also quoted within its pages.

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said“Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, with visitors from all over the world coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram.

“This industry creates jobs and sustains communities and is recognising the rewards of whisky tourism by investing in and improving the visitor experience.

“Whisky producers, such as The Macallan, have invested in distillery visitor centres, their staff and shops to ensure their guests get the best possible experience.

“Five-star status shows visitors that they can expect a fantastic and enjoyable experience, while learning all about how whisky is made here in Moray Speyside, and the history of the distillery right up to the present day.

“Quality Assurance is about more than just the stars on the door – it’s about the entire visitor experience and driving improvement in that experience throughout the country.”

Gail Cleaver, General Manager at The Macallan, said: “The Macallan Visitor Experience opened on June 2 2018, and to date we have taken more than 22,000 people on a tour of our new facility.

“Opening the VE created over 50 full time jobs, almost all filled from the local area. We have really enjoyed our first few months of trading and look forward to welcoming visitors from all around the globe for years to come.”

Developed over the last four decades in partnership with the tourism industry and informed by visitor research, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance schemes are world-leading. QA stars alongside online reviews give visitors a balance of objective and subjective views to assist in their decision making and expectations.

For more information about Quality Assurance, visit and for more information about the distillery, visit

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