Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Princes Street, the eight-floor new visitor experience for the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky, has been launched in the heart of the capital.
Four-and-a-half years in the making, Johnnie Walker Princes Street is the centrepiece of Diageo’s £185million pound investment in Scotch whisky tourism in Scotland – the largest single investment programme of its kind ever seen in Scotch whisky tourism.
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 iconic skyline, including the world-famous Edinburgh Castle.
Ivan 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.’
Barbara added: ‘We’re thrilled to be opening the doors and helping to re-build 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.’
In 2019, the Scotch whisky industry attracted a record 2.16 million visitors. Diageo’s £185m tourism investment programme 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 the length and breadth of Scotland.
Set over 71,500 sq ft, Johnnie Walker Princes Street sees visitors go on a Journey of Flavour tour will have their personal flavour preferences mapped with drinks tailored to their palate. With more than 800 flavour combinations available in the innovative dispensation systems, one person could visit Johnnie Walker Princes Street every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice.
There are more than 150 new employees, speaking 23 languages between to will bring to life the 200-year story.
The building – formerly a traditional department store for almost 100 years – contains a state-of-the-art experiential retail space where shoppers can select from rare and exclusive whiskies, fill their own bottles and have them personalised.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is crowned by two rooftop bars and a terrace with 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 curated menu sourced from, and representing in culinary form, the four corners of Scotland.
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is also committed to contributing to the community by offering its award-winning hospitality training programme for unemployed people in its special Johnnie Walker Learning for Life academy. The building can also host events in its 200-capacity space.
Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: ‘Johnnie Walker Princes Street is an exceptional addition to Edinburgh’s world-class experiences, demonstrating the confidence international brands have in the capital city whilst supporting the Scottish tourism recovery.
‘Not only that, its exploration of the “four corner” distilleries as part of the attraction will no doubt inspire customers to visit those regions, extending its tourism benefits far beyond the city’s boundaries.
‘Scotch whisky is world-renowned and forms part of the rich tapestry of the nation’s history and heritage, attracting millions of visitors each year. Whisky tourism plays an important role in the visitor experience, particularly for our international visitors, with one in five visiting a distillery as part of their trip and many more sampling it in our bars and restaurants.’
Johnnie Walker Princes Street opens its doors to the public at 1pm on Monday 6 September. Tickets for tours start from £25 per person, including a 90-minute tour and three personalised Scotch whisky samples (all samples are provided with carefully controlled measures and non-alcoholic alternatives available to all guests).
To book and for more information visit www.johnniewalkerprincesstreet.com.