Project Description

Dalmunach Distillery

Officially opened by Scotland’s First Minister on 22 June 2015, Dalmunach Distillery named after the nearby pool on the River Spey is the newest distillery in Chivas Brothers and Pernod Ricard portfolio.

Location: Carron
Client: Chivas Brothers Limited
Cost: Undisclosed
Completion: 2015

The contemporary design incorporates the latest heat recovery technology resulting in around 30% less energy use than a conventional distillery.

Code named “Hidden Jewel” during the design phase as a gesture to the Imperial Crown which was the emblem of the Imperial distillery originally on the site, the new distillery near to Aberlour in Speyside incorporates elements from the original distillery in the design, with the old washback timbers being salvaged and reused as cladding on the building. Red Aberdeenshire bricks from the old distillery were also salvaged and now feature in the main entrance.

The project involved wholesale redevelopment of the site and included demolition of the old Distillery buildings and Maltings, The construction of a new Stillhouse, Mash House, Tun Room accommodating 16 washbacks, Malt Silos, Boiler House, Draff Hopper, Bio Plant, Evaporator Building, External roads and infrastructure, and a new cooling water abstraction scheme from the River Spey.

Blyth & Blyth were the Lead Consultant, Principal Designer and Civil & Structural Engineers on the project and were supported by Norr Architects and Thomson Bethune as cost consultants.

The project won the 2015 RIBA National Award, RIAS Award 2015, AJ120 Building of the Year Nomination, Scottish Design Awards Commendation, A Civic Trust Award in 2016 and 2016 RICS Awards.

Key challenges

Due to the proximity of the world-renowned River Spey, famous for its salmon fishing, great sensitivity, careful planning and close liaison with the local stakeholders was needed in planning, designing and constructing the new cooling water abstraction scheme. Works were carefully phased and planned to be undertaken out with the fishing season.

A great deal of thought was put into minimising the environmental impact of demolishing the old distillery which was beyond economic repair. Key elements from the old building were salvaged and reused and the building fabric crushed on site and used under roads and hardstandings to avoid importing new material.

Practical considerations to account for future maintenance and replacement of the stills and condensers was designed from the outset in with removable roof panels incorporated into the roof design to allow easy access and replacement.

The old cooling water reservoir was rebuilt in part and is now used as part of the cooling water system.

Results

The project was a great success and has has gained widespread praise in its design and has won and been shortlisted for several of the UK’s leading architectural awards, which is unusual for an industrial plant such as this. In addition to awards from Civic Trust, the RIBA and RIAS it was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize 2015.

“All the cooling water, 400,000 litres per hour, comes from the River Spey. The thermal vapour recompression technology [on the spirit condensers] makes this one of the most efficient distilleries in the world.”
Trevor Buckley , Operations Manager Chivas Brothers