If you tried to travel by train from New York City to Macallan’s new distillery in Scotland, you wouldn’t make it very far.
However, the whisky brand’s new virtual reality experience lets commuters take a 360-degree tour that’s a little cheaper—and a little soberer.
To celebrate the opening of its new $186 million distillery, Macallan has taken over a wing of Grand Central Station in Manhattan with a VR tour that lets New Yorkers and visitors alike see at least a few scenes of the 194-year-old brand’s new location in Speyside.
From Wednesday until Friday afternoon, visitors can stop by the Vanderbilt Hall to walk inside a 15-foot cube, which uses six projectors to immerse viewers inside VR scenes that bring the viewers high above the hills of northern Scotland and deep within the aisles of casks. Meanwhile, the scent of grass and oak are diffused into the cube to provide a sensory addition to the visuals.
“The new distillery is such as hard structure to do justice from this far away,” said Samantha Leotta, brand manager at The Macallan. “How do you bring that to life?
The distillery, which opened to the public last month, does seem to be an architectural work of art. Different hallways look like various types of structures; one, for example, looks like a modern airport terminal. The ceiling resembles a concert hall. Outside, the roof is covered in grass, allowing the curves to blend in with the rolling hills around the distillery to look like a much longer, more massive hobbit house.
After an intro overview of the distillery and the brand itself, viewers are able to select one of three additional storylines to follow. There’s “Untold Stories”—which tells tales of The Macallan’s past—along with another that’s focused on the distillery’s architecture and a third about the overall collection of bottles through the years.
The VR experience isn’t just about smelling and seeing the distiller—there’s also a taste component. Each visitor gets a small quarter-ounce glass of either The Macallan’s newly released Edition No. 4 or its 12-year double cask. There’s also a wall of scents that help to further accentuate the notes within the whisky such as fig, sandalwood, orange blossoms and vanilla.
The VR experience isn’t just meant for a cube. Along with the experience, it will also be available as a 360-degree video on YouTube as well as VR headsets. And after it leaves New York, The Macallan plans to also target consumers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
This isn’t the first time The Macallan has experimented with VR. Last year, it partnered with The Conrad Hotel Chicago for an interactive dinner that included a virtual journey along with food and cocktails. The brand has also experimented with augmented reality that included using the Microsoft HoloLens paired with an AR art exhibit.
“What the distillery does [with VR] is it’s a platform that allows us to directly engage with fans and whisky enthusiasts form all over the world,” Leotta said.