Diageo has announced a £150 million investment, over three years, to transform its Scotch whisky visitor experiences in the biggest concerted programme ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector.
The centre-piece of the investment will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh, bringing to life the story of the world’s most popular Scotch whisky and creating a unique welcome for millions of Scotch fans around the world.
The company will also upgrade its existing network of 12 distillery visitor centres to create a new generation of Scotch attractions where people can meet the craftsmen and craftswomen who make the world’s greatest distilled spirit and putting Scotland at the cutting edge of the global boom in food and drink tourism.
Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, 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.
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.
Diageo’s other famous visitor distilleries: Lagavulin, Talisker, Glen Ord, Oban, Dalwhinnie, Blair Athol, Cragganmore and Royal Lochnagar, will also see investment to support the growth of single malt Scotch whisky.
This is in addition to the £35 million already committed to re-open the ‘lost distilleries’ of Port Ellen and Brora, taking Diageo’s network of distilleries with specialist visitor experiences in Scotland to 14.
The announcement comes as tourism in Scotland is experiencing record growth, with the global appeal of Scotch whisky playing a leading role in attracting visitors.
It also comes as the Scottish government and its agencies, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, launch the Scotland is Now campaign to sell Scotland to the world as a business and tourism destination.
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.”
Edinburgh has been 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.
Welcoming the investment, first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, said: “This significant investment will not only help attract more tourists to Scotland, offering world class visitor experiences, but it also underlines the fundamental importance of the whisky sector to Scotland’s economy.
“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.”
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