Diageo to Spend Big in Effort to Boost Scotch Whisky Tourism - The Whiskey Wash

Diageo to Spend Big in Effort to Boost Scotch Whisky Tourism

Spirits giant Diageo is easily considered one of the preeminent players in Scotch whisky, given the number of distilleries in Scotland it owns. Those at this company also recognize an increasing number of consumers are taking whisky holidays to explore their favorite brands more in depth, and that these visitors will be wanting enhanced experiences at the whisky making facilities. It is to this end a planned £150 million investment (over $204 million) in better whisky tourism is set to take place.

What’s being called the biggest concentrated program ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector will be ongoing over the next three years, according to those behind it. The centerpiece of this countrywide process will be a new, state of the art Johnnie Walker immersive experience that’s based out of Edinburgh. Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Walker, but four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – will be linked directly to the venue, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavor variations of Lowland (Glenkinchie), Speyside (Cardhu), Island (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish) crucial to the art of whisky blending.

An artist impression of part of the planned Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.

Diageo also will upgrade its existing network of 12 distillery visitor centers (Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila, Clynelish, Lagavulin, Talisker, Glen Ord, Oban, Dalwhinnie, Blair Athol, Cragganmore and Royal Lochnagarto create a new generation of Scotch attractions where people can meet the craftsmen and craftswomen who make their favorite Scotches. This is on top of already existing plan 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.

“Scotch is at the heart of Diageo,” said Diageo chief executive, Ivan Menezes, in a prepared statement, “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.”

Now, if you ever wondered exactly how deeply Diageo is dug into the Scotch whisky world, consider these factors:

  • 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 over 180 countries.
  • Diageo is a major employer in Scotland with around 3,500 people.
  • Diageo has 50 sites in Scotland including 28 malt distilleries and one grain distillery, as well as engineering, technical, warehousing, packaging operations and various management functions.
  • Scotland is one of Diageo’s largest global spirit supply centres responsible for producing nearly 50 million cases of leading brands of Scotch whisky and white spirits annually.
  • Diageo has driven year-on-year growth in visitor numbers to its distilleries for a decade, and broke the 400,000 barrier in 2017 when a total of 440,260 people visited the 12 visitor centres – an increase of 15.2% on the previous year.
About the author

Nino Marchetti

Nino Marchetti is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Whiskey Wash, an award winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y on a global level. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert and judge he has written about the subject extensively, been interviewed in various media outlets and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions. He also maintains a large private collection of whiskey from which he continually educates his palate on this brown spirit type.