Diageo has unveiled plans for a £150m (AU$274m) investment over three years to transform its Scotch whisky visitor experiences and grow the appeal of Scotch.
The centre-piece of the investment will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker visitor centre in Edinburgh, but the company also plans to upgrade its network of 12 visitor centres across Scotland.
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.
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 £35m 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.
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.”
Welcoming the investment, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP, 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.”
David Cutter, Chairman of Diageo in Scotland added: “Over the past six years we have invested over £1bn 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.”