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Diageo earmarks £150m for investment in its Scotch whisky experience

Published:  17 April, 2018

Diageo has announced it will invest £150 million in its Scotch whisky experience across the next three years.

The centre-piece of the investment, which Diageo claimed to be the biggest concerted programme seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector to date, will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh.

The building in Edinburgh would become “a new hub for Diageo’s business in Scotland” linking to wider social investment and creating opportunities in the hospitality sector for young unemployed people, through increased investment in the company’s Learning for Life programme, said Diageo.

It would also leverage its export and innovation expertise with the venue becoming a destination to mentor Scotland’s next generation of entrepreneurs and exporters, it added. 

In addition, the investment will see the drinks giant upgrade its existing network of 12 distillery visitor centres to create a new generation of Scotch attractions where people can meet the craftsmen and craftswomen who make the distilled spirit.

With Scotch “at the heart of Diageo”, the investment reinforced the company’s on-going commitment to growing its Scotch whisky brands and supporting Scotland’s tourism industry, said chief executive, Ivan Menezes.

“For decades to come our distilleries will play a big role in attracting more international visitors to Scotland. I am also delighted we will be able to bring our knowledge and expertise to help the next generation, through mentor programmes and skills training,” he added.

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries - Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish, would be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations of Lowland (Glenkinchie), Speyside (Cardhu), Island (Caol Ila) and Highland (Clynelish), said Diageo.

Diageo’s other visitor distilleries - Lagavulin, Talisker, Glen Ord, Oban, Dalwhinnie, Blair Athol, Cragganmore and Royal Lochnagar, will also see investment to support the growth of single malt Scotch whisky, it added.

This, it said, was in addition to the £35 million already committed to re-open the distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora, taking Diageo’s network of distilleries with specialist visitor experiences in Scotland to 14.

The announcement comes as tourism in Scotland is experiencing record growth, with the global appeal of Scotch whisky playing a leading role in attracting visitors.

It also comes as the Scottish Government and its agencies, Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland, launch the Scotland is Now campaign to sell Scotland to the world as a business and tourism destination.

In the past six years, Diageo has invested in excess of £1 billion in building its Scotch whisky production infrastructure in a bid to grow exports around the world.