Diageo tables plans to upgrade Glenkinchie visitor centre

Plans have been formally submitted to “significantly expand” the visitor centre at Lowlands distillery Glenkinchie.

Diageo’s plans centre around the renovation and conversion of Glenkinchie’s traditional red brick warehouse buildings into a multi-levelled visitor experience, which will include a welcome lounge, retail unit, bar and cocktail making classroom, tasting rooms and a cask draw experience.

The submission of formal plans follows community engagement last month as well as pre-application consultation with East Lothian Council and Historic Environment Scotland.
The plans are part of Diageo’s £150 million investment to upgrade its Scotch whisky centres, which also include a new Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.

The upgrade will see the site ‘directly linked’ to the new Johnnie Walker site, along with three other distilleries representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and Scotch whisky’s regional flavour profiles: Cardhu (Speyside), Caol Ila (Island), and Clynelish (Highlands).

Ramsay Borthwick, Glenkinchie distillery manager, said: “This is a very significant and exciting point on our journey to transform Glenkinchie.

“We are all incredibly excited about the plans which will surely capture the imagination of Scotch whisky fans of all ages, tastes and experience from around the world.

“We want to celebrate the distillery’s history and combine this with a new state-of-the-art visitor experience which will not only link us to the new global Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh but will establish Glenkinchie as a must-see for tourists in Scotland.”

Subject to planning approval, work will commence in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2020.

Planning permission milestone gained at Brora Distillery

Artist’s impression of the plans at Brora Distillery

The famous Brora Distillery has taken another step towards reopening after Highland planners granted permission to the landmark project.

Painstaking work will now begin to restore the original buildings, which date back almost two centuries to 1819, bringing the site back to life as a working distillery.

Under the plans, the distillery’s historic stillhouse will be entirely dismantled before being meticulously rebuilt stone-by-stone so that it retains its original character but is structurally capable of once more producing the finest quality spirit.

Stewart Bowman, Brora Distillery project implementation manager, said: “This is a key milestone in our journey to bring Brora Distillery back into production.

“Everyone involved is raring to get going with the work to restore the beautiful distillery buildings so they can once more produce the spirit that Brora is famous for.

“We will now begin the painstaking work of bringing down and reconstructing the stillhouse with care and attention to detail so that every stone is perfect.”

Diageo first announced plans to reopen Brora Distillery in October last year, 35 years after it closed its doors, sparking local interest from the community and from whisky lovers around the world.

Earlier this year, the team bringing Brora Distillery back to life invited the local community to be a part of its revival by sharing their memories, stories and artefacts relating to the famous Scotch distillery. In return, Diageo shared exclusive drawings and plans for the distillery’s construction which, where possible, will replicate the distillation regimes and spirit character of the original distillery.

Diageo invests £6.4m in new technical centre of excellence

Ewan Andrew and Alan Kennedy look at plans for Diageo’s on-going investment in Scotland

Drinks giant Diageo has started work on a new state-of-the-art technical centre of excellence in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, as part of its on-going investment in its business in Scotland.

The company has broken ground on the £6.4 million project construction on the new centre that will upgrade facilities for its whisky blending, science & technology and materials testing teams.

Careers in science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) are crucial to Diageo’s business and the new centre at Menstrie will provide world-standard facilities for the company’s industry-leading scientists. It will also be a hub for innovation, not just in the spirits industry, but in environmental sustainability in manufacturing.

To be delivered by Morrison Construction, the new centre of excellence builds on Diageo’s extensive footprint in Clackmannanshire, which includes the company’s largest warehousing site (Blackgrange), cooperage (Cambus), coppersmiths (Abercrombie in Alloa) and global brand archive (Menstrie).

The investment was warmly welcomed by local representatives as positive news for the local economy.

Keith Brown, MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, said: “This announcement from Diageo of a £6.4m investment in their site at Menstrie is fantastic news for Clackmannanshire and will be a boost to both the local and Scottish economy.

“As the MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane, I welcome this further evidence of Diageo’s commitment to the local area.”

Luke Graham, MP for Ochil & South Perthshire, said: “It’s great to see more investment coming to the County. I was lucky enough to visit the Menstrie site earlier this year and see first-hand the jobs and apprenticeships created by Diageo.

“Following HM Government’s freeze on whisky and spirit duty, it is good to see businesses with the confidence to invest in our area. I look forward to continuing to work with Diageo to continue to attract further investment in the future.”

Ewan Andrew, director of Diageo International Supply Centre, said: “Our Technical Centre in Menstrie is a crucial part of our business globally, delivering excellence in science and innovation.

“This investment will create new state-of-the-art facilities for our talented team of whisky specialists and scientists to enhance the industry-leading work they do on growing and protecting our business around the world.”

The technical centre is home to teams who work across Diageo’s global brands, including Johnnie Walker, Bell’s, and J&B Scotch Whiskies, Smirnoff & Ciroc Vodka, Tanqueray & Gordon’s Gin, and Captain Morgan Rum. The new technical centre is being built on an area of unused land adjacent to the company’s existing Technical Centre, which will continue to operate as normal while the new facility is built.

Diageo unveils new Johnnie Walker visitor centre plan for Edinburgh

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.”

UK government minister for Scotland sees ground broken at The HALO Kilmarnock

(from left) Marie Macklin, Lord Duncan and Brian Whittle MSP

(from left) Marie Macklin, Lord Duncan and Brian Whittle MSP

Lord Duncan, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office, visited the site of The HALO Kilmarnock yesterday to witness work getting under way on the £65 million urban regeneration project.

The UK government has provided £3.5m of funding to support the development, and the creation of a new Enterprise & Innovation Centre, to be located within The HALO Kilmarnock, as part of its UK Industrial Strategy, the detail of which was unveiled last week.

The Enterprise & Innovation Centre will foster the next generation of entrepreneurs, with strong focus on innovation, digital skills, and cyber security. Funding has also been provided by the Scottish Government, Diageo plc and East Ayrshire Council, with the remainder being sourced from private sector investors.

The HALO Kilmarnock, located on the site of the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant, is being shaped as a multi-faceted brown-field regeneration that will create an innovative, inspirational and imaginative urban park with a dynamic commercial, educational, cultural, leisure and lifestyle quarter. Its low carbon, renewable deep geothermal district heating network will address fuel costs on the site and have the capability of being extended to service other areas of the community – a first for the UK. The development will also include a light manufacturing facility and key worker private rental accommodation.

HALO Urban Park

How the completed development will look

The development is one of four HALO projects planned for the UK and being seen as catalysts for urban regeneration. The next HALO project is proposed for Belfast, with Wales and the North West of England to follow. It is envisaged that The HALO Kilmarnock will connect through road and rail infrastructure directly to the Northern Powerhouse, creating economic benefits across the wider area.

Backers of the HALO Kilmarnock believe that development will generate £53.6m of GDP for the Kilmarnock economy every year and contribute £65.8m to the Scottish economy annually. It is also set to create 1,400+ direct jobs and support 630 jobs in construction.

Preparatory ground works, being carried out by Advance Construction Group, have now commenced on-site and the first phase of The HALO Kilmarnock is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Lord Duncan said: “Supported by a £3.5m UK government investment, The HALO Kilmarnock is an ambitious, important development that will create jobs, grow the economy and drive innovation. The project will attract international companies to locate in the town, benefiting from the excellent transport links and a local, well-trained workforce. The HALO Kilmarnock represents marks a fresh start for Kilmarnock and Ayrshire and I hope that the project is a catalyst for further regeneration in Scotland and beyond.”

Marie Macklin, Lord Duncan and Brian Whittle MSP are joined by construction students from Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock campus

Marie Macklin, Lord Duncan and Brian Whittle MSP are joined by construction students from Ayrshire College’s Kilmarnock campus

Marie Macklin, founder and director of The HALO Kilmarnock, said: “The HALO will play an important role in the UK government’s UK Industrial Strategy, to which we contributed at its consultation stage. The economic benefits of this community led development will be felt not just in Kilmarnock and East Ayrshire, but across the whole of Scotland and driving down into the Northern Powerhouse, harnessing the power of the 4th Industrial Revolution – the digital revolution.

“We welcome the UK government’s support for The HALO Kilmarnock which is a major infrastructure project in its own right and we hope that it will prove to be a catalyst for other infrastructure projects, such as the improved road and rail links that will connect it with the rest of the UK.”

Brian Whittle MSP for South Scotland Region added: “The HALO represents a fantastic opportunity for Kilmarnock and Ayrshire more widely to lead the way in the industries that are coming to define the 21st Century. I’m delighted that the UK government are leading the way in supporting the HALO. I’m honoured to have been able to help bring the HALO out of the starting blocks. It’s taken a huge amount of work by everyone involved to get to this point and I’m excited to see the project moving forward to the next stage.”

Diageo pours doubt over £50m whisky distillery plans


Plans for a new £50 million whisky distillery near Alness are to be delayed due to a drop in worldwide demand.

Drinks giant Diageo said a slowdown in demand around the world for Scotland’s biggest export meant it may have to “adjust” the timing of the next phase of its production investment programme.

Several projects are to be delayed, including the £50m “super distillery” planned for a site near Alness.

A greenfield site next to the existing Teaninich distillery was chosen for the distillery last year.

With 16 copper stills, it would have the capacity to distil enough for 13 million litres of spirit each year, equating to 45 million bottles.

It was proposed to create about 20 jobs to run the plant.

The site near Alness, which would have had its own name and identity, would have been the second major malt distillery built in more than 30 years.

A company spokesperson said: “Diageo’s investment in expanding our Scotch whisky production business in Scotland began in 2007 and reflects the long-term potential we continue to see in the Scotch whisky category around the world.

“Since then we have successfully completed major expansions across a number of our distilleries, packaging sites, maturation warehousing and support operations.”

The spokesperson added: “Our long-term investments are naturally planned in phases to give us the ability to adjust to fluctuations in demand and to ensure the right balance between supply and demand.

“The weaker global economic environment has impacted the growth of Scotch in certain markets and therefore Diageo will continue to review and adjust the timing of the next phase of our investment programme to manage our Scotch whisky inventory and to retain the alignment between growth in production volumes and growth in demand.”