En­thu­si­asts for whisky set to make 2018 bumper year for in­dus­try

Tourism: Record num­bers flock to dis­til­leries as ex­ports also soar

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY SCOTT MA­CLEN­NAN

Drinks ex­perts are pre­dict­ing a bumper year for Scot­land’s na­tional drink as the in­dus­try en­joys a boom in whisky tourism.

The Scotch Whisky As­so­ci­a­tion (SWA) said a record 1.7mil­lion vis­i­tors flocked to 40-plus dis­til­leries in Scot­land for their unique her­itage in 2016 alone.

The full tally for 2017 is yet to be pub­lished – but many at­trac­tions showed a strong up­ward trend last year when it came to the num­ber of peo­ple walk­ing through the doors.

New sta­tis­tics from the As­so­ci­a­tion of Scot­tish Vis­i­tor At­trac­tions showed Caol Ila Dis­tillery Vis­i­tor Cen­tre, on Is­lay, saw the big­gest rise in vis­i­tors of 32%.

That was fol­lowed by Kings­barns Dis­tillery, in Fife, which was up 30% and Glen Ord Dis­tillery Vis­i­tor Cen­tre, at Muir of Ord, at 28%.

The Blair Athol Dis­tillery Vis­i­tor Cen­tre at Pit­lochry was up by 18% and the Scotch Whisky Ex­pe­ri­ence in Ed­in­burgh saw a healthy 16% more peo­ple.

The SWA be­lieves the trend is fired by grow­ing in­ter­est in Scotch whisky with last year’s high­est ex­port fig­ures. Added to that is in­vest­ment in new vis­i­tor cen­tres pay­ing off, with at­trac­tions like a whisky tast­ing bar made out of a re­cy­cled mash tun at the Blair Athol Dis­tillery.

And one of Scot­land’s

“It’s fab­u­lous to see dis­til­leries at­tract­ing more vis­i­tors”

most famed malt brands, Ma­callan, is due to open its £100mil­lion dis­tillery and vis­i­tor cen­tre in June at Easter Elchies in Spey­side.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the SWA, Karen Betts said: “It’s fab­u­lous to see Scot­tish dis­til­leries at­tract­ing more and more vis­i­tors from the UK and all over the world.

“There has been a 25% in­crease in vis­its to Scotch whisky dis­til­leries since 2010 and we fully ex­pect this trend to con­tinue.

“As well as ben­e­fit­ing our in­dus­try, the in­creas­ing num­ber of vis­i­tors is great news for the Scot­tish econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral ar­eas, with vis­i­tors to dis­til­leries stay­ing in lo­cal ho­tels, eat­ing high-qual­ity meals, and shop­ping for lo­cal prod­ucts.”

Mal­colm Roug­head, chief ex­ec­u­tive of VisitS­cot­land, agreed, say­ing: “Whisky tourism is a vi­tal part of lo­cal tourism for many ar­eas.

“Whisky is one of Scot­land’s most valuable com­modi­ties with peo­ple from all over the world com­ing to our shores to ex­pe­ri­ence an au­then­tic Scot­tish dram.

“A culi­nary icon, it re­mains as im­por­tant as ever to the tourism in­dus­try with one in five vis­i­tors mak­ing a trip to a dis­tillery dur­ing their stay and even more vis­it­ing a bar, pub or restau­rant to sam­ple our renowned na­tional drink.”

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