Why whisky fans will flock to Edinburgh - Angus Robertson
The eponymous brand hails from the Kilmarnock shopkeeper who first sold his whisky blend and has gone on to take the world by storm. A new book is out this week ‘The Long Stride’ by Nick Morgan, which tells the story of Johnnie Walker and how the Walker family transformed Scotland’s national drink from the era of illicit stills to Scotland’s most successful export.
More than one billion bottles of Scotch are sold every year, eclipsing every other spirit exported by another country in the world. Whisky produced in Scotland is now worth the best part of £5 billion pounds a year and makes up 70 per cent of national exports.
Work is progressing at the west end of Princes Street to transform the old Frasers department store into the Johnnie Walker global flagship visitor experience, as part of a £150 million investment into whisky tourism by its owners Diageo. It will join Edinburgh attractions, including the Scotch Whisky Experience on the Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Society on Queen’s Street and Leith, as well as a number of first class bars and specialist shops with a wide range of Scotch whiskies.
As a student I worked for a number of years as a tour-guide at the then Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre by the Castle Esplanade. It was a great introduction for me to the importance of whisky to Scotland and understanding its appeal for tourists. In the years ahead Edinburgh will have even more to offer whisky fans from home and abroad.