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Diageo Unveils $215 Million Effort To Bolster Scotch Whisky Tourism

April 16, 2018

Diageo has unveiled a major new investment in its Scotch whisky tourism operations. The drinks giant says it will pour £150 million ($215m) into visitor experiences at its Scottish distilleries over the next three years, calling the move “the biggest concerted program ever seen in Scotland’s whisky tourism sector.”

The investment will include a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker “immersive visitor experience” in Edinburgh, which is intended to celebrate the world’s largest Scotch whisky brand and “become a new hub for Diageo’s business in Scotland.” Four Diageo distilleries that contribute to the Johnnie Walker blend—Glenkinchie (Lowland), Cardhu (Speyside), Caol Ila (Islay), and Clynelish (Highland)—will be linked with the Edinburgh venue to represent the “four corners of Scotland” and encourage Scotch enthusiasts to visit all four regions.

Meanwhile, Diageo will also be making new investments at its Lagavulin, Talisker, Glen Ord, Oban, Dalwhinnie, Blair Athol, Cragganmore, and Royal Lochnagar distilleries as part of the push, upgrading its existing network of 12 distiller visitor centers. The group previously announced that it would spend £35 million ($50m) to re-open its Port Ellen and Brora distilleries, including visitor experiences at both sites.

Johnnie Walker, the biggest spirits brand in the world by retail value, had global sales of $5.4 billion last year on volume of 18.1 million cases, according to Impact Databank.

Diageo says the initiative is in response to record growth in tourism across Scotland, much of it driven by the Scotch whisky sector. The company saw a 15% increase in visitors to its Scottish distilleries last year, with the total reaching 440,000 people.

With the major new investment, Diageo sees the potential to bolster its Scotch tourism outreach alongside its successful Guinness Storehouse in Ireland. Based in Dublin, the Guinness Storehouse welcomed 1.7 million visitors last year. —Daniel Marsteller

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