Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker, has reaffirmed its £185million investment programme in Scotch whisky and tourism as it opened the online doors to the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global flagship visitor experience.
Physical construction at the landmark building in the heart of Edinburgh restarted in June in compliance with all government COVID guidelines following a three month lockdown pause, but work to build the digital world for future visitors has continued unabated with the new website for the attraction (www.johnniewalkerprincesstreet.com) launched today (Tues 8th Sept).
While the detailed plans for inside the eight-story attraction, and the stunning views from its signature rooftop bars, remain a tightly guarded secret, the website gives the public the opportunity to join the journey and to be at the front of the queue for pre-sale ticket opportunities and exclusive updates on the project.
Following the lockdown construction delay and the ongoing working restrictions to comply with COVID safety protocols, it is now anticipated Johnnie Walker Princes Street will open its doors for visitors in summer 2021.
Announcing the update on the project yesterday, Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, said: "The last few months have been so difficult and disruptive for everyone and we know there is still a long way to go, but we keep walking with confidence and we are looking to the future with positivity.
"Johnnie Walker Princes Street is progressing well following the restart of construction and we are delighted to be launching our website so that our future guests can share in the excitement and anticipation we feel as we build towards opening our doors to visitors next year."
Ewan Andrew, Diageo's Global President for Supply Chain & Procurement, with executive responsibility for Diageo's capital investment in Scotch whisky tourism - the largest single programme the industry has seen - said the commitment to Scotch whisky and Scottish tourism was stronger than ever.
He said: "With 200 years of history Johnnie Walker has experienced many societal challenges and times of recovery, which is why the spirit of progress in the face of adversity is built into the DNA of the brand.
"The investment we are making in Johnnie Walker Princes Street and our whisky distilleries in rural communities throughout Scotland will not only help us to emerge stronger from this crisis, we believe it will make a major contribution to the recovery in Edinburgh and Scotland as a whole."
Scottish and Edinburgh tourism sector leaders welcomed the update on Johnnie Walker Princes Street as a boost for the recovering industry.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, said: "After an extremely difficult few months for the Scottish tourism industry, it is good to see more positive news emerging as we continue to recover from the impact of Covid-19. This new experience will be a valuable addition to the country's world-class whisky tourism offering and I'm sure that today's announcement will have whet the appetite of many whisky lovers right across the world. Diageo has shown real commitment to the success of Scotland's economic future and continued investment will be key as we look to create experiences and products that encourage visitors back to Scotland in future years. Tourism is a force for good and if managed responsibly, sustains communities in every corner of Scotland, creates jobs, tackles depopulation and improves the wellbeing of everyone who experiences it. "
Donald Emslie, Chair of Edinburgh Tourism Action Group (ETAG) said: "Edinburgh is an extremely resilient city and whilst we undoubtedly have a long road to recovery ahead of us, we are certain that Edinburgh, working and collaborating together, can return to its position as one of Europe's best performing visitor destinations. The news of the restart of Diageo'sJohnnie Walker development is very welcome indeed and signals a real confidence in the future of Edinburgh and its visitor economy. Given the uncertainty around the future of the retail sector more generally, investments like this will be key to transforming our city centre into the vibrant and thriving place we all want it to be for the benefit of our residents, visitors and employers.
We looking forward to following the development over the coming months and sharing details of the development through the newly created ForeverEdinburgh platform."
Johnnie Walker Princes Street is the focal point of Diageo's investment in Scotch whisky tourism and will include:
* A multi-sensory, immersive visitor experience across three floors, guiding people through the 200 year history and taking them on a journey through the flavours of Scotland.
* A flexible events space for staging music, theatre, arts and community events, making the venue part of the thriving cultural life of the city.
* A training academy that will be a home for Diageo's award-winning Learning for Life programme, which creates training and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry for unemployed people, and works to improve hospitality standards and promotes the responsible serving and consumption of alcohol.
* Rooftop bars with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and across the city skyline to east, west and north.
* At street level the plans include a significant retail space continuing the legacy of high street retail presence at this historic shopping location.
The investment in Johnnie Walker Princes Street and transforming Diageo's existing 12 distillery visitor attractions across Scotland totals £150million with a further £35million invested in reopening the iconic "lost" distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.
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-making. 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.
For further information on Johnnie Walker Princes Street or to register for updates visit www.johnniewalkerprincesstreet.com