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Transforming centre

Former zoo boss to head Johnnie Walker visitor attraction

Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith: ‘transformational programme’

A leisure industries veteran who has run Edinburgh Zoo and the castle will join Diageo as general manager of its new Johnnie Walker visitor experience.

Barbara Smith will also be responsible for running the company’s network of 14 distillery brand homes in Scotland.

She leaves her current post as chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland to run the flagship attraction in the former House of Fraser store in Princes Street, which is the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism.

Ms Smith has more than 30 years leadership experience developing major visitor destinations.

Director Cristina Diezhandino, said that Ms Smith “has an exceptional record of leadership at some of the UK’s most successful attractions and we are thrilled to have someone of such capability, experience and vision joining us.”

Ms Smith said: “I look forward enormously to playing a leading role in delivering this transformational programme.”

Diageo’s whisky tourism investment will also transform four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – that will be linked to the Edinburgh venue, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of making whisky. 

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