Whisky leaders, Diageo, have announced a £150 million investment. Diageo say the investment will transform its Scotch whisky visitor experience.
The centre-piece of the investment will be a new state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker immersive visitor experience based in Edinburgh.
The company will also 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 spirit and putting Scotland at the cutting edge of the global boom in food and drink tourism.
Talisker Distillery will also see investment to support the growth of single malt Scotch whisky.
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.
Having built the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin into Ireland's No1 paid for tourist attraction, Diageo now plan to partner with Scottish Enterprise and VisitScotland to promote Scotch and Scotland to potential visitors around the world.
Edinburgh has been chosen as the preferred location for the Johnnie Walker investment because of the capital's particularly strong tourism growth, with the city already being home to some of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK.
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."
Further detail on the £150 million investment programme:
· The skill and expertise of Diageo's distillers and blenders will be spectacularly brought to life in the state-of-the-art Johnnie Walker attraction, the ultimate visitor experience in the heart of Edinburgh.
· Multimillion pound infrastructure investment across Diageo's 12 malt whisky distillery visitor centres with a focus on the 'Four Corners distilleries' - Glenkinchie, Caol Ila, Clynelish and Cardhu – celebrating the important role these single malts play in the flavours of Johnnie Walker.
· Building on an investment of £5m from 2012 to 2017, Diageo is extending the £1m per year funding support for its award-winning Diageo Learning for Life programme that has helped over 1,000 young unemployed people in Scotland into training and jobs in the hospitality industry over the last five years.
· As Diageo builds towards the 200th Anniversary of the Johnnie Walker brand in 2020, the company plans to celebrate the brand's founder John Walker, by establishing a scholarship and mentoring programme for young entrepreneurs to encourage a new generation of John Walkers to develop their ideas into global exporting businesses, with a specific focus on supporting young entrepreneurs from John Walker's home town of Kilmarnock. This will be developed in partnership with local stakeholders.