Work set to begin on new whisky visitor experience

A key milestone has been passed in the plans for a major transformation of the Glenkinchie Distillery visitor experience.

East Lothian Council has formally granted planning permission for the development.

Following the green light from planners, work is expected to begin on the expansion of the distillery visitor experience in the new year.

Under the plans, Glenkinchie’s Victorian-era red brick warehouse buildings will be transformed into a multi-level cultural and sensory visitor experience, telling the incredible stories of Glenkinchie while highlighting its 125-year partnership with Johnnie Walker and its important flavour contributions to the world’s numer one Scotch whisky.

The expanded footprint will include a welcome lounge, upgraded retail unit, bar and cocktail making classroom, tasting rooms and a cask draw experience.

Additionally, the famous Glenkinchie scale-model whisky distillery – originally built for the 1925 Empire Exhibition – will be reinvigorated with new digital and interactive storytelling elements. Externally, a number of non-original buildings will be removed in order to create beautiful landscaped gardens at the approach to the visitor experience.

Ramsay Borthwick, Glenkinchie Distillery Manager, said: ‘We would like to thank East Lothian Council and all our neighbours for their support with this development. This is not only a major project for Glenkinchie Distillery, it will enhance the whole economy of East Lothian, attracting more visitors to the area.

‘This is a very exciting time for Glenkinchie and to have planning permission granted before the New Year is perfect timing. Everyone involved is eager to get started with the work to transform the distillery and establish Glenkinchie as a must-visit tourist attraction in Scotland.’

East Lothian Council have approved a planning application for the Glenkinchie Distillery visitor centre (Photo: Diageo)

Glenkinchie is one of a number of Diageo distilleries that will see major work undertaken as part of investment plans totalling more than £185 million across Scotland.

This will include a new global visitor attraction for Johnnie Walker – the world’s leading Scotch whisky – in Edinburgh, as well as investment in 12 distillery visitor centres and the revival of the iconic lost distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.

As part of the plan Glenkinchie will be linked to the Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh. Glenkinchie is a key part of the Johnnie Walker single malt portfolio, providing the light, floral, classic lowland style of single malt for Johnnie Walker scotch whiskies.

Glenkinchie Distillery has a long history of association with Johnnie Walker, with stock books from 1894 listing Glenkinchie among the single malts going into the Walker blending inventory.

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