Scotch Whisky Distilleries Killing It In Tourism Numbers

The Scotch whisky world is cracking a bunch of single malts in celebration right now as word recently emerged of a record number of visitors from around the globe coming to Scotland to experience whisky tourism. The over 2 million recorded visits highlight a larger global trend in tourism in the whisk(e)y sector in general, especially when you factor in the nearly 1.63 million visits in Kentucky’s bourbon country last year.

The record number of tourists discovering the world of Scotch whisky, according to the Scotch Whisky Association, clocked in at over 2 million for 2018. This record number of visits is up 6.1% year on year and also is 56% more than in 2010.

It was also revealed by the Scotch whisky trade group that spending at various distillery visitor centers was up by 12.2% to £68.3m. This is an additional £7.4m compared with 2017 and 154% more than in 2010. Collectively, Scotch Whisky distilleries remain the third most visited attraction in Scotland.

Some colorful casks at The Glendronach distillery (image copyright The Whiskey Wash)

“We’re delighted that Scotch Whisky distilleries have become such popular places to visit,” said Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, in a prepared statement. “The growing number of visitors to distilleries reflects in part the growth in tourism in Scotland in general, and people coming to Scotland want to see our local crafts and sample our local food and drink.

“But it also reflects a growing curiosity about Scotch Whisky.  Today’s consumers want to understand and experience how their favourite blends and malts are made, to meet the people who make them, and to see which part of Scotland’s beautiful landscape they call home. Distilleries offer something of an antidote to today’s fast-paced world, where visitors can see the slow, careful craft, rooted in a distinct sense of place, that creates Scotch Whisky.

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“The growth in whisky tourism is also playing a crucial role in Scotland’s rural economy, with more stays at hotels, more bookings at restaurants, and more customers for local businesses, helping communities to grow and prosper. The industry has invested a great deal in creating fabulous visitor facilities.  That investment has been fostered by the more stable tax environment created by recent freezes in excise duty. We hope the government will continue this policy, which has both boosted the revenues available to fund public services and helped the industry to continue to invest in world-class visitor attractions.”

Interestingly, over 20 different nationalities visited distilleries in Scotland last year, with Germany and the USA providing the largest number of Scotch whisky tourists. Increased visits from France, Spain, and the Netherlands were also reported, as well as India and China.


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