Scotch Whisky Distilleries Seeing Huge Numbers Of Visitors

Scotch Whisky Distilleries Seeing Huge Numbers Of Visitors

By Nino Marchetti / June 2, 2015

Take a look at the resurgence at the whiskey industry around the world and one thing you see is increased tourism as visitors flock to distilleries, some of which are quiet ancient, to be ground zero at their favorite brands. This has, in part, contributed to why we are seeing new distillery development in Kentucky and Scotland, and now new figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) reveal the fact there’s no sign the tourism trend will stop anytime soon.

The SWA reported last week that more than 1.5 million people from the United Kingdom and beyond came to Scotland in 2014 to visit Scotch distillery visitor centers. That number is up more than 15 percent since 2010, and when you put the number of visitors to individual distilleries together collectively, it rivals some of the UK’s best known attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish National Gallery, Tate Britain, Stonehenge and London Zoo.

Bowmore distillery

image via Bowmore

Now while increased visitor numbers to Scotch whisky distilleries are great and all, the economic impact they have while playing the role of tourist is just as important to take note of. With regards to this there was no disappointment, as those stopping by distilleries spent a total of almost £50 million last year on tours and in associated shops and cafes, up from £27m in 2010.

Part of what is attributed to this increase in spending by tourists is, according to the SWA, “investment by producers to enhance their visitor centres and to provide a wider range of offerings, such as special bottlings, tailored tasting and blending sessions.” This certainly makes sense, as when you create experiences which are more than just simple tastings people will want to partake in them to increase their knowledge and passion for whisky.

“Scotch Whisky producers are investing in their centres and shops to give visitors the best possible experience,” said Julie Hesketh-Laird, Scotch Whisky Association deputy chief executive, in a statement. “As well as providing another source of income for producers, the increasing number of visitors is good for the wider Scottish economy. Visitors are spending more at distilleries and are likely to being doing the same with other businesses, including hotels and restaurants. It also helps put Scotland on the map.”