Diageo has officially opened an eight-floor visitor centre, telling the story of the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky, in the heart of Edinburgh.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is the centrepiece of a £185 million investment by the drink giant in Scotch whisky tourism.
The package also includes investment in the visitor centres of four distilleries – Cardhu, Clynelish, Caol Ila on Islay and Glenkinchie in East Lothian – to highlight their contribution to the Johnnie Walker brand.
Diageo set out to create a “unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland”, encouraging visitors to the capital to also travel to the country’s “extraordinary rural communities”.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street will open its doors to the public at 1pm next Monday (September 6). Tickets for tours start from £25 per person, including three personalised Scotch whisky samples or non-alcoholic alternatives.
VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “Johnnie Walker Princes Street is an exceptional addition to Edinburgh’s world-class experiences, demonstrating the confidence international brands have in the capital city whilst supporting the Scottish tourism recovery.
“Not only that, its exploration of the ‘four corner’ distilleries as part of the attraction will no doubt inspire customers to visit those regions, extending its tourism benefits far beyond the city’s boundaries.”
Mr Roughead added: “Scotch whisky is world-renowned and forms part of the rich tapestry of the nation’s history and heritage, attracting millions of visitors each year.
“Whisky tourism plays an important role in the visitor experience, particularly for our international visitors, with one in five visiting a distillery as part of their trip and many more sampling it in our bars and restaurants.
“Diageo’s tourism offering is growing year-on-year and we were delighted to work in partnership with them on a digital marketing campaign, promoting their network of visitor experiences across Scotland.”
According to Diageo, it is the largest single investment programme of its kind ever seen in Scotch whisky tourism.
To mark the opening more than three years after Diageo announced the investment a Johnnie Walker flag was raised above the landmark building by the company’s chief executive, Ivan Menezes, and Barbara Smith, managing director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street.
Mr Menezes said: “This is a proud day for everyone. Last year Johnnie Walker celebrated 200 years since founder John Walker opened the doors to his small grocery store and today represents the next chapter of the incredible story.
“Johnnie Walker Princes Street is a landmark investment in Scotch whisky and into Scotland, and it sets a new standard for immersive visitor attractions.
“It celebrates Scotland’s remarkable heritage and our incredible skilled whisky-makers, and looks to the future by engaging new generations of consumers from around the world in the magic of Scotch whisky.”
Johnnie Walker Princes Street boasts two rooftop bars and a terrace, with spectacular views of the Edinburgh skyline.
It is also offering training for unemployed people in its skills-focused Johnnie Walker Learning for Life academy.