Scotch whisky tourism gets a big boost with the opening of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, an ambitious new visitor attraction, to the public today
Johnnie Walker has reimagined the whisky tour experience for the future with Johnnie Walker Princes Street. Spread across eight floors and a sprawling 71,500 sq ft, it is a new visitor experience for the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky. While the visitor experience was inaugurated on September 2, it opens to the public today, on September 6.
Four-and-a-half years in the making, Johnnie Walker Princes Street is the centrepiece of Diageo’s £185 million pound investment in Scotch whisky tourism in Scotland—the largest single investment programme of its kind ever seen in Scotch whisky tourism.
The investment includes the transformation of distillery visitor experiences around Scotland, including Glenkinchie, Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila—the Lowland, Highland, Speyside and Islay homes of Johnnie Walker, linked to Johnnie Walker Princes Street to form a world-class network of attractions across the length and breadth of Scotland. The Scotch whisky industry attracted a record 2.16 million visitors in 2019, so the potential is huge.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street opens its doors with a Green Tourism Gold Award—the highest sustainability accolade for a visitor attraction. The building includes roof terrace planters which will provide herbs for garnishes and infusions for drinks, a sedum roof covering and bird boxes to encourage biodiversity.
At the experience centre, visitors will be taken on a personalised journey of flavour and discovery, which identifies unique flavours and tastes tailored to them, and learn about the fascinating 200-year-old journey brought to life by actors.
The visitor experience takes the concept of personalisation to a scale never before seen in a global drinks visitor experience. Visitors on the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour tour will have their personal flavour preferences mapped with drinks tailored to their palate. And with more than 800 flavour combinations available in innovative dispensation systems, one could visit Johnnie Walker Princes Street every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice. The tours will be led by a team of 150 diverse employees, who speak 23 languages between them.
The cellar has become a true whisky treasury with some of the most unique whisky casks in the world gently maturing and waiting to be sampled by guests. The building—formerly a traditional department store for almost 100 years—also contains a state-of-the-art experiential retail space where shoppers can select from most unique and exclusive whiskies, fill bottles direct from casks and have them engraved.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is crowned by two world-class rooftop bars and a terrace with breathtaking views of the Edinburgh skyline, including the Explorers’ Bothy whisky bar stocked with 150 different whiskies, and the 1820 cocktail bar where drinks are paired with a carefully curated menu sourced from, and representing in culinary form, the four corners of Scotland.
On the occasion, Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive, Diageo said, “This is a proud day for everyone. Last year Johnnie Walker celebrated 200 years since founder John Walker opened the doors to his small grocery store and today represents the next chapter of the incredible story. Johnnie Walker Princes Street is a landmark investment in Scotch whisky and into Scotland and it sets a new standard for immersive visitor attractions. It celebrates Scotland’s remarkable heritage, our incredible skilled whisky-makers, and looks to the future by engaging new generations of consumers from around the world in the magic of Scotch whisky.”
Tickets for tours start from £25 per person, including a 90-minute tour and three personalised Scotch whisky drinks (all samples are provided with carefully controlled measures and non-alcoholic alternatives available to all guests).
Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, said: “We’re thrilled to be opening the doors and helping to rebuild the tourism and hospitality industry after a very difficult 18 months. The story of the world’s best-selling whisky has been brought to life with flair and imagination and we have built a team which includes some of the most talented individuals in their fields. We are now ready to welcome visitors and begin telling the next chapter of how we are woven into the fabric of Scotland’s history and communities.”