Cardhu Distillery Reopened As Speyside Home of Johnnie Walker

By Gary Carter / June 24, 2021

Spirits giant Diageo put another feather in its whisky tourism cap with the opening of the “reimagined” Cardhu Distillery in Speyside, Scotland. It is seen by the company as the Speyside Home of Johnnie Walker.

The Johnnie Walker Princes Street whisky experience in Edinburgh – the centerpiece attraction in the company’s whisky tourism in Scotland – will launch later this summer as well.

Now, flying over the Cardhu distillery once again, is the distinctive flag used by Helen Cumming of Cardhu’s founding family, one of whisky’s most famous female pioneers, (she waved it to warn illicit distillers of the approaching ‘excise man’ in the 1800s).

Cardhu distillery

Cardhu Distillery, the Speyside home of Johnnie Walker (image via Diageo)

This makeover of the Cardhu distillery is the latest update in a journey across what’s described as the Johnnie Walker ‘four corners’ distilleries of Glenkinchie in the Lowlands and the Highland distillery of Clynelish, which opened their doors to the public after being transformed into whisky tourism destinations.

The new visitor experience at Cardhu celebrates the distillery’s 200-year history and legacy as a pivotal part of the Johnnie Walker story. It was sold by the Cummings’ family to Johnnie Walker and Sons in 1893 and became integral to the Johnnie Walker success over the coming decades.

The state-of-the-art space includes a redesigned, immersive story-telling experience with a projection story room, whisky tasting kitchen and updated whisky experience tours.

Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo’s chief marketing officer, said in a prepared statement, “We are delighted to be raising the flag at Cardhu to mark the opening of the new visitor experience just as our distilling pioneer Helen Cumming did two centuries ago. When Helen raised her flag, it was to warn her neighbors and the local community, but today we raise the flag in a symbol of confidence and ambition for the future of Scotch whisky and tourism in Speyside and throughout Scotland.”

She added that Cardhu is a special whisky, a special distillery with a special history and heritage, “and the investment we have made creates an exciting and engaging experience that will surprise and delight visitors whether they are local staycationers in the UK or tourists from around the globe when they are able to travel.”

Cardhu is the third of the ‘Four Corner’ Johnnie Walker distillery experiences, which are single malt distilleries that represent Scotland’s four whisky making regions and contribute to the Scotch whisky brand.

Following on from the launch of Johnnie Walker Princes Street later this summer, Caol Ila Distillery on Islay will be next to reopen in 2022 after its own reimagining, to complete the ‘four corners’ story.

Most recently, the iconic “ghost” distillery of Brora was also reawakened after 38 years and is producing whisky once again as part of a significant Diageo investment in its Scotch whisky distilleries.

Cardhu Distillery will initially welcome UK visitors in accordance with the latest safety guidelines and look to host international tourists when it is deemed safe to travel by the Scottish government.