Diageo to transform visitor experiences with £150m investment plan

The Cardhu distillery, about 40 miles from Inverness (it is managed by Northern Ireland-born Andrew Millsopp), which is part of the new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker visitor experience

DRINKS giant Diageo has announced a £150 million investment over three years to "transform" its Scotch whisky visitor experiences.

The centrepiece will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker "immersive visitor experience" based in Edinburgh, bringing to life the story of the whisky.

The company also plans to upgrade its existing network of 12 distillery visitor centres to create a new generation of Scotch attractions.

Four distilleries - Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish - will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the "four corners of Scotland" (the senior group operations manager at Cardhu is Northern Ireland-born Andrew Millsopp).

Together, this will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country's extraordinary rural communities.

Other visitor distilleries including 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.

Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, said: "Scotch is at the heart of Diageo and this new investment reinforces our ongoing commitment to growing our Scotch whisky brands and supporting Scotland's tourism industry.

"For decades to come our distilleries will play a big role in attracting more international visitors to Scotland."

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.

The Scottish Government and its agencies Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland have also launched the Scotland is Now campaign to sell the country to the world as a business and tourism destination.

Diageo now plans a tie-up with Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland to promote Scotch and Scotland to potential visitors around the world.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This significant investment will not only help attract more tourists to Scotland, offering world-class visitor experiences, but it also underlines the fundamental importance of the whisky sector to Scotland's economy.

"This Diageo announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors."

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