Drinks group to pour £150m into Scottish whisky tourism

Drinks giant Diageo will invest £150 million over three years to “transform its Scotch whisky visitor experiences”.

The company said the investment is the biggest ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector, and the centrepiece will be a new Johnnie Walker visitor experience in Edinburgh (pictured).

The company said it will also upgrade its network of 12 distillery visitor centres, “putting Scotland at the cutting edge of the global boom in food and drink tourism”.

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.

A total of 440,260 people visited the 12 visitor centres in 2017 – an increase of 15.2% year-on-year.

Ivan Menezes, Diageo chief executive, 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.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, added:  “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.

“[This] announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors.”

Edinburgh is the preferred location for the Johnnie Walker investment because of the capital’s strong tourism growth, with the city already being home to some of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK.

Diageo was a founding member and remains the largest shareholder of the Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh.

Diageo is Scotland’s largest exporter of Scotch whisky and other spirits, with around 85% of the company’s production in Scotland exported overseas to more than 180 countries.

Pictured on newsletter email is the whisky distillery at Brora. Credit: Shutterstock.com.