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3 sierpnia 2023

Peak happiness of a unique kind

The world’s highest whisky distillery is located at the Corvatsch summit station at an elevation of 3,303 metres.
fot. Filip Zuan | The world’s highest whisky distillery is located at the Corvatsch summit station at an elevation of 3,303 metres.

The two Swiss whisky lovers Rinaldo Willy and Pascal Mittner sought out a spectacular setting for their production: the world’s highest distillery can be visited at the Corvatsch summit station. The best insights and views as well as excellent energy quality are ensured by insulating glass units with the warm edge spacer bar SWISSPACER. 

Since 2010, friends Rinaldo Willy from Engadin and Pascal Mittner from Chur have set themselves the goal of making Switzerland known as a whisky nation and selected a regional production method for their whisky “ORMA”, which has won several international awards. The water comes from the natural springs near the Murtèl middle station of the Corvatsch cable car, the barrels from the surrounding wine regions such as Veltlin or Bündner Herrschaft. The product is stored in very different places across the region: in deep vaulted cellars of Engadin castles or monasteries, in earth cellars and timber yards in the Bündner Land – or in the grotto of the Corvatsch summit station. 

We wanted to make a whisky that brings our homeland and terroir to the bottle – explain Willy and Mittner. 

Each of their single cask editions therefore exhibits different colourings and nuances, depending on which climate or wine barrel they are matured in. The name of the whisky distillery also refers to the corporate philosophy: ORMA means “soul” in Rhaeto-Romanic and stands for its roots in the canton of Graubünden.   

A special whisky distillery

When the opportunity arose two years ago to make use of an empty storeroom at the Corvatsch summit station, the two visionaries jumped at the chance and planned the world’s highest distillery. It sounds like a bit of marketing fun, but it really isn’t: because at an elevation of 3,303 metres, the boiling point for the distillation process is 10 degrees lower than at sea level. That saves money, especially as the temperature in the facility is also directly controlled by the cool mountain air. Of greater importance for the production of whisky, however, is the fact that the lower distillation point retains more aromas and a greater complexity in the distillation process – a unique selling point for enthusiasts of Swiss whisky.

Spectacular panorama

The location of the new ORMA distillery is no less sensational. Surrounded by the Bernina massif and the Corvatsch glacier with a view of the distinctive lake landscape of the Upper Engadin, a visit to the single malt whisky distillery is a very special experience for all the senses. Three days every week, there are selected guided tours with tasting for small groups. To be able to enjoy the view of the breathtaking landscape to the fullest, and also to grant equally fascinating insights into the distillery, the investors opted for large windows with high-performance insulating glass units when converting the storage rooms.  

Insulating glazing under extreme conditions

The windows were fitted with triple glazing with the thermal insulating glass MGTherm Öko Star from MGT Mayer Glastechnik. The insulating glass has the best thermal insulation properties and meets the highest requirements in terms of energy, quality and aesthetics, also given the expected extreme weather conditions at the summit station. All of the Öko Star insulating glass units are equipped with the high-tech spacer bar SWISSPACER Ultimate – one of the best warm edge spacer bars currently available on the market. It minimises cold bridges on the glass edge and considerably reduces the risk of condensation. 

We now use the Ultimate as standard – says Harald Lerchster, authorised officer and sales director of MGT Mayer Glastechnik. – The spacer bar simply impresses us with its excellent performance and an aesthetic, matt surface.

The high stability of the hollow profile of SWISSPACER Ultimate ensures extraordinary parallelism of the frame. The foil also ensures a long service life. 

Construction site at an elevation of over 3,000 metres

The largest window element measures 4,900 x 2,100 millimetres – more than ten square metres. Such sizes were a big challenge – not only for the confined site conditions at an elevation of over 3,000 metres, but also because the window elements had to be delivered by helicopter. To handle the climate loads present while transporting the units up the mountain from the valley, MGT Mayer Glastechnik installed a pressure equalisation valve in the factory. This valve was then closed and sealed on site.

With ultrasonically welded frame corners, MGT Mayer also ensured a perfect looking corner design and an optimal transfer of load in the insulating glass units of the ORMA distillery. “We process over 50 tonnes of glass daily for almost all areas of application in buildings – but we are sure to remember this project for many years to come,” says Harald Lerchster.

Construction data:

» Project: Whisky Distillery ORMA 

» Location: Summit station, Via dal Corvatsch 73, 7513 Silvaplana/CH

» Investor: ORMA Swiss Whisky Ltd, Chur/CH

» Architect: BIAD Bauengineering, Cham/CH

» Glass manufacturer: MGT Mayer Glastechnik GmbH, Feldkirch/AT

» Glass: MGTherm® Öko Star Insulating Glass

» Spacer bar: SWISSPACER Ultimate


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