Diageo has finally opened its landmark Edinburgh visitor experience, Johnnie Walker Princes Street. The eight-story complex is the centerpiece of the spirits giant’s £185m tourism investment program aimed at rebuilding Scotch whisky tourism for the future.
Four and a half years in the making, Johnnie Walker Princes Street follows the opening of the brand’s “four corners of Johnnie Walker” single malt whisky distilleries. Over the past year Clynelish, Cardhu, Glenkinchie, and Caol Ila have reopened after receiving significant updates.
To mark the opening a Johnnie Walker flag was raised above the landmark building by Ivan Menezes, Chief Executive, Diageo, and Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, against the backdrop of Edinburgh’s skyline.
“This is a proud day for everyone,” said Menezes. “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.”
Set over 71,500 sq ft, Johnnie Walker Princes Street takes the concept of personalization to a new scale. Visitors on the Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour tour will have their personal flavor preferences mapped with drinks tailored to their palate. More than 800 flavor combinations are available in the complex’s “innovative dispensation systems,” which means one person could visit Johnnie Walker Princes Street every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice.
The new visitor center has hired over 150 new employees, who speak 23 languages between them, and boasts a cellar that has become a true whisky treasury with some of the most unique whisky casks in the world maturing and waiting to be sampled by guests.
The building – formerly a traditional department store for almost 100 years – will contain a state-of-the-art experiential retail space where shoppers can select from rare and exclusive whiskies, fill their own bottles, and have them personalized.
The visitors experience opens its doors with a Green Tourism Gold Award – the highest sustainability accolade for a visitor attraction. The building includes roof terrace planters to provide herbs for garnishes and infusions for drinks, a sedum roof covering and bird boxes to encourage biodiversity.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is crowned by two 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.
The center is also committed to contributing to the community by offering its hospitality training program for unemployed people in its special Johnnie Walker Learning for Life academy. The building can also host events in its 200-capacity space.
“We’re thrilled to be opening the doors and helping to re-build the tourism and hospitality industry after a very difficult 18 months,” said Smith. “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.”
In 2019, the Scotch Whisky industry attracted a record 2.16 million visitors and Johnnie Walker Princes Street, and Diageo’s £185m tourism investment program aims to help rebuild Scotch whisky tourism for the future.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street will open its doors to the public at 1 pm on Monday, September 6th. Tickets for tours start from £25 per person, including a 90-minute tour and three personalised Scotch whisky samples.
To book and for more information visit the official website.