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Helping to protect the spirit and tradition of Speyside

There’s not just an art to making fine whisky – there’s a specific skill that is also required to ensure that the storage conditions are just right for the spirit to mature properly.

The teamwork between The Macallan Distillery in Moray, Speyside, and Link 51, means that connoisseurs can continue to enjoy a fine single malt for decades to come.

Following its success of The North British Distillery Company Limited site at Muirhall, Link 51 used its expertise to design and install world-class maturation storage at two new warehouses at The Macallan Distillery at Craigellachie for the Edrington Group.

Each warehouse is split into three cells, with each cell being approximately 3,000 square metres in size.

When fully loaded, a warehouse will store nearly 23,000 butts or puncheons, each of which holds 500 litres, plus 8,000 hogsheads, which each hold 250 litres of spirits.

It means that the bespoke racking and storage system provided by Link 51 offers safe and secure storage for about 13,400,000 litres of Macallan single malt whisky.

Experienced designers from Link 51 worked closely with engineers at Macallan to ensure that the system they created met the whisky maker’s highly specialised needs as it looked to increase production from 6.5 million litres to 10 million litres – all of which needs to be matured for at least 12 years.

Not only was quick access to individual casks vital but making sure the angles of the runners allow easy rolling from the forklift truck to the end of the racking, where there is an auto safety stop to keep them on the tracks, was also extremely important.

Access to individual butts/puncheons and hogsheads, so that staff can carry out quality testing, has been achieved with the installation of three walkways, which provide safe access. It is also safer and faster as they do not have to spend valuable time moving surrounding casks.

The design of the racking system also means that Macallan will lose less whisky to the angels as it matures in the casks. The so-named “angel share” occurs naturally when a small percentage of the spirits evaporates in the barrels but the racking will mean more will be retained in the casks for consumers.

The storage system can accommodate a mix of butts/puncheons to a height of 8 levels high and hogsheads at 10 levels.

George McKenzie, Chief Engineer at The Macallan, said the system provided by Link 51 was practical, safe and modern – everything it needed to mature its whiskies.

“Link 51 has given us the racking system we were looking for,” he said, praising the understanding that Link 51 have of its specific requirements, from initial design, through to the costing, installation and ongoing maintenance and annual inspection of the racking.

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