An artist's impression of the Clynelish Distillery
An artist's impression of the Clynelish Distillery

Johnnie Walker plans for Cardhu and Clynelish

Plans to transform the visitor experiences at Cardhu and Clynelish distilleries have been formally submitted as part of a major Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky investment programme.

The detailed planning applications have been completed for both distilleries following community consultation events and have been filed with the relevant local authorities – Moray Council for Cardhu and Highland Council for Clynelish.

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.

Under the investment plans, Cardhu will become the Speyside home of Johnnie Walker and Clynelish will become the Highland home of Johnnie Walker, and will be thematically linked to a new global Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh. Both distilleries have long associations with Johnnie Walker and remain two of the most important single malts in the making of the brand.

Cardhu has strong ties to Johnnie Walker. It was the first distillery to be acquired by John Walker & Sons in 1893 and it remains a key Johnnie Walker single malt today.

Under the plans the visitor experience at Cardhu will highlight the story of Helen and Elizabeth Cumming, the pioneering women who established and ran the distillery in the 19th century, as well as the connections to the Walker family.

The plans also include significant new external landscaping around the distillery to enhance access and to create a new orchard space for visitors to enjoy.

Laura Sharp, Cardhu Distillery brand home manager, said: ‘This is an important step in our plans for the distillery. We have already shared our initial plans with the local community and now we look forward to working with local stakeholders as we progress the planning process.

An artist’s impression of the Clynelish Distillery

‘Speyside a hugely important part of the Scotch whisky tourism map and we are very excited by the plans for Cardhu, which we believe will bring new visitors to the distillery and to the region.’

Clynelish has had a long association with Johnnie Walker and it remains one of the key Johnnie Walker single malts 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 panoramic views of the beautiful Sutherland coast. The area surrounding the distillery will also benefit from enhanced landscaping.

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 is another significant milestone on our journey to transform the visitor experience at Clynelish.

‘We have seen great growth in tourism over recent years with the NC500 bringing new visitors to the Highlands. We believe the investment we are making at the distillery will create a major new attraction and help bring more tourists to this part of the world in the future.’

Subject to successful planning permission, work should commence at both distilleries later this year with completion targeted for late 2020.

Cardhu and Clynelish are amongst a number of Diageo distilleries that will see major work undertaken as part investment plans totalling more than £185 million across Scotland.

This will includes £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 Port Ellen and Brora.

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Cardhu, Clynelish, Glenkinchie and Caol Ila – will be linked directly to the 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.