Artist’s impression of the entrance of the Johnnie Walker visitor centre

Drinks giant Diageo is to build a new whisky visitor centre in Edinburgh and upgrade facilities in its existing network of 12 distilleries as part of a £150 million investment.

The centrepiece of the three-year investment will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh.

The city was chosen as the preferred location for the Johnnie Walker investment because of the capital’s particularly strong tourism growth.

The building in Edinburgh will 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.

Multi-million pound infrastructure investment will also be made across Diageo’s 12 malt whisky distillery visitor centres with a focus on the ‘Four Corners distilleries’ – Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish and Cardhu.

Plans for Diageo’s ‘Four Corners distilleries’ 

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

Diageo chief executive, Ivan Menezes, 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. 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.”

Welcoming the investment, 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. Last week, I launched Scotland is Now, a new campaign that will put Scotland in the international spotlight and showcase the country’s world-leading assets, such as whisky, to a global audience. Today’s announcement highlights to the world that Scotland is a leading destination for tourists and business investors.”

Scottish secretary David Mundell added: “Whisky is hugely important to Scotland’s economy, it is not just our biggest export, but an iconic product which draws visitors here from around the world. The UK government is wholehearted in its support for the industry – we froze duty rates again at the last Budget, and are determined to open up new markets around the world as we leave the EU. 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.”