Diageo pledges £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism

Diageo has pledged to invest £150 million over the next three years to transform its Scotch whisky visitor experiences.

The highlight of the investment will be a new Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh, which aims to bring the story of the whisky to life, according to the company, while also 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 distilled spirit.

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 back 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). Together this will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, according to Diageo.

The drinks giant’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.

The announcement comes as tourism in Scotland is experiencing record growth, driven in part by the global appeal of Scotch whisky. 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 plans to partner with Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland to promote Scotch and Scotland to potential visitors around the world.

Edinburgh has been chosen as the preferred location for the Johnnie Walker investment because of the capital’s strong tourism growth.

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.

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.”

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, First Minister of Scotland, said: “The 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.”

David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland added: “Over the past six years we have invested more than £1 billion in building our Scotch whisky production infrastructure to grow exports of Scotch around the world. With this new investment, we turn our focus to bringing the world to Scotland. This will not only build the Scotch whisky industry it will bring economic benefits to communities throughout Scotland.”

The investment in the brand comes in advance of Johnnie Walker’s 200th anniversary in 2020. 

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