Drinks giant Diageo has announced plans to build a state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh in a bid to further build on the successful whisky tourism scene in the capital.
The new venue is part of wider plans announced by the whisky firm that will see them invest £150 million over three years to transform their Scotch whisky visitor experiences in what is considered to be the biggest concerted programme ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector.
Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to the Johnnie Walker blend, but four distilleries, Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish, will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations of Lowland (Glenkinchie), Speyside (Cardhu), Island (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish) crucial to the art of whisky blending.
The brand said that together this will create a “unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland”, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also “travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities”.
The whisky group said that Edinburgh was chosen as the preferred location for the Johnnie Walker investment because of the capital’s particularly strong tourism growth, with the city already being home to some of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK. The building in Edinburgh will become a new hub for Diageo’s business in Scotland linking to wider social investment and creating opportunities in the hospitality sector for young unemployed people, through increased investment in the company’s Learning for Life programme.
Diageo will also leverage its export and innovation expertise with the venue becoming a destination to mentor Scotland’s next generation of entrepreneurs and exporters.
A spokesperson from Diageo said a site for the Edinburgh visitor centre has yet to be chosen and that it would be revealed in due course.
Diageo chief executive, Ivan Menezes, said: “Scotch is at the heart of Diageo, and this new investment reinforces our ongoing commitment to growing our Scotch whisky brands and supporting Scotland’s tourism industry. For decades to come our distilleries will play a big role in attracting more international visitors to Scotland. I am also delighted we will be able to bring our knowledge and expertise to help the next generation, through mentor programmes and skills training.”
Today’s announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors.Nicola Sturgeon
Welcoming the investment, the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the investment will not only “help attract more tourists to Scotland”, but that it also underlines the “fundamental importance of the whisky sector to Scotland’s economy”, she added: “Last week, I launched Scotland is Now, a new campaign that will put Scotland in the international spotlight and showcase the country’s world-leading assets, such as whisky, to a global audience. Today’s announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors.”
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “Whisky is hugely important to Scotland’s economy, it is not just our biggest export, but an iconic product which draws visitors here from around the world. The UK Government is wholehearted in its support for the industry – we froze duty rates again at the last Budget, and are determined to open up new markets around the world as we leave the EU. I welcome Diageo’s major new investment. It is hugely exciting, not just for Scotland but for whisky drinkers around the world who want to learn more about the history and traditions of our national drink.”
Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo Global Scotch Whisky Director said, “Scotch is the world’s favourite whisky and Scotland is the greatest distilling nation on earth. New generations of consumers around the world are falling in love with Scotch and they want to experience it in the place where it is made and meet the people who make it. This investment will ensure that the people we attract to Scotland from around the world go home as life-long ambassadors for Scotch and for Scotland.”
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