A key milestone has been reached in the journey to transform the Clynelish Distillery visitor experience.
Highland Council formally granted planning permission for the development today (Monday 17 June).
With the green light given from planners, work is now expected to begin on the expansion of the distillery visitor experience in the coming weeks.
Clynelish has had a long association with Johnnie Walker and it remains one of the key single malts that goes into making Johnnie Walker today. The plans include a comprehensive upgrade of the distillery visitor experience with a new upper floor to tell the Clynelish story, as well as a new bar and tasting area offering beautiful views of the Sutherland coast. The area surrounding the distillery will also benefit from enhanced landscaping.
The plans are part of a £150m investment in Scotch whisky tourism by leading distilling company Diageo, focused on the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky brand, Johnnie Walker.
Clynelish Distillery shares its location with the iconic Brora Distillery, which closed in 1983. Work is already underway to bring Brora back into production as part of a separate £35m investment programme that will also revive distilling at Port Ellen Distillery on Islay.
Jacqueline James-Bow, Clynelish Distillery brand home manager, said: ‘This announcement is very exciting and we want to thank the Highland Council and all our neighbours for their continued support.
‘This is an important step forward on our journey to transform the Clynelish visitor experience and everyone involved is very much looking forward to work getting underway.’
Clynelish is one of a number of Diageo distilleries that will see major work undertaken as part investment plans totalling more than £185 million across Scotland. This includes the £150 million investment in the new global visitor attraction for Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh, as well as investment in 12 distillery brand homes, and the £35 million investment in the revival of the iconic lost distilleries of Brora and Port Ellen.
Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to the making of Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – will be linked directly to the new Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of whisky blending. Together these sites will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.
Located on the east coast of Sutherland, Clynelish distillery was founded in 1819 by the first Duke of Sutherland and was one of the first purpose-built distilleries in Scotland.
After being bought by Ainslie & Heilbron in partnership with John Risk, who become the outright owner in 1912, Clynelish became the most highly-priced single malt by the end of the 19th Century. After being mothballed in the late 1960s, Clynelish distillery was closed completely in 1983 before being purchased by Diageo in 1997.