The Macallan Surface

We brought nearly two centuries of The Macallan's heritage to life for international travellers in Schipol airport.

  • Digital & Mobile

Raising a dram to new technology

Distilled in the heart of Speyside, The Macallan is clearly positioned as one of the world’s premium luxury whiskies. 

The 1824 Collection is exclusive to travel retail and therefore only available at locations such as Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. We were commissioned to design an in-store user interface for their international customers.

More and more of our projects involve linking digital to physical reality. Keen to exploit object recognition to bring nearly two centuries of heritage to life, we collaborated with Interface3 who recommended the Microsoft Pixelsense (Surface 2) touchscreen platform, which uses Windows 7 multi-touch and .Net technologies.

Commendation for Best App

Scottish Creative Awards 2012

The extra mile (or 600)

To create an authentic user experience we had to carefully craft the interactive to the same standard as the whisky itself.

This involved a few journeys for our creative team, starting with a 160 mile drive to the Speyside distillery to become immersed in the whisky production (and tasting!) process and understand the brand and its customers. 

The distillery visit inspired us to create extra touches to communicate the real luxury of the brand, such as designing ‘aroma trails’ in which images of flavours from the whisky appeared to flow from the tip of the user’s finger.

Charlie Bell

Design Director

Back to reality

Once back in the office, we popped round the corner to Interface3 to ensure that our initial ideas were technically achievable and that the final application would closely match the designs we were presenting to the client.

The discussions we had at an early stage with Inteface3 flagged that the touch screen would still need to work if a user didn’t place a bottle directly on the screen and chose just to browse through touch.

Alex Turnbull

Head of User Experience

Got a flight to catch?

After creative concepts had progressed, we checked in for a flight to Schipol to see the retail unit and understand the implementation and testing procedures.

For example, the object recognition technology is based on light sensitivity, so the surface needed to be precisely calibrated to the area it was located depending on the lighting above it, and needed re-calibrated if it was moved.

We also realised we needed to have a mobile website for people who used the surface, but didn’t have the time or desire to enter their personal details in the public environment to enter the competition we were also promoting.

The results

Once it was installed, we felt a real sense of achievement watching customers selecting bottles from The 1824 Collection, placing them on the touchscreen surface to experience how the whisky is made, then browsing whisky tasting notes and video at their own pace. And even more satisfaction when they took the bottle to the till!

The story of this project features in ‘Interface design’ – a book written by Dave Wood to be published shortly. It also received a commendation for Best App in the Scottish Design Awards 2012.  

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