Diageo sees rise in Scotch whisky tourism

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

The new up-cycled mash tun bar at Blair Athol
The new up-cycled mash tun bar at Blair Athol

Related tags Diageo Scotland

Diageo has seen a 7% rise in the number of tourists visiting its 12 distillery visitor centres in Scotland, which it says highlights another boom year for Scotch whisky tourism. 

In the past twelve months (July 2016-June 2017), visitors passed the 400,000 mark for the first time, with a total of 409,908 people visiting.

This continues a trend of consistent year-on-year growth in visitor numbers over the past decade, with the distilleries now attracting more than double the visitors than eight years ago.

Glenkinchie, Lagavulin, Talisker...

Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, also featuring as a top export good. Scotland is one of Diageo’s largest spirit supply centers, producing around 50 million cases of Scotch whisky and white spirits brands per year. Around 85% of Diageo’s production in Scotland is exported overseas.

Helped by drinkers’ increased interest in the provenance of their food and drink, and drawing on the global reputation of Scotch, whisky tourism is also on the rise in Scotland.  

Diageo runs 12 distillery visitor centres across Scotland, from Glenkinchie near Edinburgh to iconic distilleries such as Lagavulin and Talisker in the western isles to Clynelish and Glen Ord in the north highlands. Other sites are found in Dalwhinnie, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar.

Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry is Diageo’s busiest Scotch attraction, having welcomed a record 75,234 visitors last year – an increase of 7.7% on the previous year. Last week, the distillery also celebrated the unveiling of a new whisky tasting bar, created from an up-cycled redundant mash tun.

Diageo Scotland Director, Ewan Andrew, said: “Scotch whisky is not only the country’s most valuable export industry, it’s the world’s most popular spirit, attracting visitors from around the globe to Scotland. That’s great for our distilleries but it also makes a major contribution to the local economies and communities where we operate.

“We have seen visitor numbers increasing rapidly over recent years as global Scotch sales have grown, and we’re investing to ensure Scotch continues to grow and that we welcome even more visitors to Scotland in the years ahead.”

Diageo’s global brands are found across spirits, beer and wine categories: including Johnnie Walker, Bell’s, Crown Royal, JεB, Buchanan’s, and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

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