Raise your glasses to the £150m whisky bo­nanza

Di­a­geo: Com­pany invests in ma­jor tourism drive around John­nie Walker

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS - BY KEITH FIND­LAY

Drink gi­ant Di­a­geo has pre­dicted a whisky tourism bo­nanza for the north af­ter unveiling £150mil­lion plans for the “big­gest sin­gle in­vest­ment” ever seen in the sec­tor.

The com­pany aims to “trans­form” vis­i­tor cen­tres at dis­til­leries in­clud­ing Cardhu on Spey­side and Clynel­ish at Brora, in a ma­jor tourism drive based around its John­nie Walker brand – the world’s top sell­ing Scotch.

Other dis­til­leries, in­clud­ing Talisker on Skye, Glen Ord at Muir of Ord, Oban, Crag­gan­more on Spey­side and Royal Lochna­gar – on the edge of the Bal­moral es­tate – are also in line for in­vest­ment to sup­port grow­ing de­mand for sin­gle malts around the world.

In ad­di­tion, Di­a­geo will create an “im­mer­sive vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence”, in Ed­in­burgh, wholly ded­i­cated to John­nie Walker whisky.

David Cut­ter, chair­man of Di­a­geo in Scot­land, said the com­pany’s in­vest­ment would spread the eco­nomic ben­e­fits across “all four cor­ners of the coun­try”.

He added: “We want to en­cour­age many more peo­ple to come and find out all about our whisky.”

In­vest­ment in four dis­tillery vis­i­tor cen­tres – Cardhu, Clynel­ish, Caol Ila on Is­lay and Glenk­inchie in East Loth­ian, will be heav­ily fo­cused on their con­tri­bu­tion to the John­nie Walker brand. The aim is to “create a unique John­nie Walker tour of Scot­land, en­cour­ag­ing vis­i­tors to the cap­i­tal city to also travel to the coun­try’s ex­tra­or­di­nary ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties”.

Mr Cut­ter said: “Over the past six years we have in­vested over £1bil­lion in build­ing our Scotch whisky pro­duc­tion in­fra­struc­ture to grow exports of Scotch around the world.

“With this new in­vest­ment, we turn our fo­cus to bring­ing the world to Scot­land.

“This will not only build the Scotch whisky in­dus­try, it will bring eco­nomic ben­e­fits to com­mu­ni­ties through­out Scot­land,” he added.

Di­a­geo global Scotch whisky di­rec­tor Cristina Diezhandino added: “Scotch is the world’s favourite whisky and Scot­land is the great­est dis­till­ing na­tion on earth.

“New gen­er­a­tions of con­sumers around the world are fall­ing in love with Scotch and they want to ex­pe­ri­ence it in the place where it is made and meet the peo­ple who make it.

“This in­vest­ment will en­sure that the peo­ple we at­tract to Scot­land from around the world go home as life-long am­bas­sadors for Scotch and for Scot­land.”

First Min­is­ter Ni­cola Sturgeon said that Di­a­geo’s “sig­nif­i­cant” in­vest­ment would help to at­tract more tourists to Scot­land, while it also high­lighted the “fun­da­men­tal im­por­tance” of whisky to the na­tion’s econ­omy. Scot­tish Sec­re­tary David Mun­dell said: “It is not just our big­gest ex­port, but an iconic prod­uct which draws vis­i­tors here from around the world.

“I wel­come Di­a­geo’s ma­jor new in­vest­ment. It is hugely ex­cit­ing, not just for Scot­land but for whisky drinkers around the world who want to learn more about the his­tory and tra­di­tions of our na­tional drink.”

Di­a­geo, which has 50 sites in Scot­land, in­clud­ing 28 malt dis­til­leries and one grain op­er­a­tion, is gear­ing up for the 200th an­niver­sary of the John­nie Walker brand in 2020.

The com­pany is on the hunt for a suitable site for its new vis­i­tor at­trac­tion in the heart of Ed­in­burgh.

“We turn our fo­cus to bring­ing the world to Scot­land”

ON THE MAP: Di­a­geo CEO Ivan Menezes an­nounces the in­vest­ment

A vi­su­al­i­sa­tion of the Clynel­ish vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence

How the Caol Ila site will look when com­pleted

An artist’s im­pres­sion of the £150mil­lion plans

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