Diageo hopes the Edinburgh Johnnie Walker hub will enjoy the same success as the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Diageo hopes the Edinburgh Johnnie Walker hub will enjoy the same success as the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin

Diageo has lined up a sizeable investment in the Scotch whisky tourism sector, but has admitted it is yet to find a location for a new visitor centre for Johnnie Walker.

The company is aiming to open the "immersive" brand home, part of a new GBP150m (US$215m) investment in Scotland, in time for Johnnie Walker's 200th anniversary in 2020. However, speaking to just-drinks today, Diageo said it is still scouting potential sites for the centre in Edinburgh.

"We don't have the location yet," said Cristina Diezhandino, Scotch category director & MD for Diageo's Reserve portfolio. "We are considering various locations in Edinburgh."

Diezhandino said Diageo is announcing the news ahead of time in the hope that it could speed up the process.

"This allows us to engage in more conversations with the relevant stakeholders in Edinburgh to land the location," Diezhandino explained.

The category director for Scotch also said that the Johnnie Walker visitors centre in Edinburgh will not replace Kilmarnock as the home of the brand. "Kilmarnock will always be there," Diezhandino said. "When we talk about Johnnie Walker, [Kilmarnock] is clearly the birthplace, part of its history. It will always be portrayed in that light.

"[The Edinburgh venue] is a new way of presenting Johnnie Walker to the world, with a home in Scotland that is well-known to a worldwide audience. That place is Edinburgh."

Diageo today announced the investment in the Johnnie Walker visitors centre alongside an increase in spending on its other Scottish visitor experiences at distilleries across the country. The move comes as visitor numbers to the group's distilleries are on the rise, up 15% last year to 440,000 visitors. The company is hoping the investment will have the same success as in Ireland, where Diageo's Guinness Storehouse visitors attraction is the most popular paid-for attraction in the country, with 1.7m visitors last year.

Diezhandino said there are no visitor targets for the Johnnie Walker centre in Edinburgh, but noted that the company will use learnings from the Guinness Storehouse to create the new attraction.

"Having that experience in our pocket allows us to go about creating [the Johnnie Walker centre] in a way that is hopefully as equally engaging, long-lasting and beneficial for Johnnie Walker and our single malts," she said.

"Our ambition is to make Scotch the number one international spirits category in China" - Interview - Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo's Scotch category director & MD of Reserve brands

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