£85m venture

Johnnie Walker Princes Street ‘to set new standard’

The striding man in the rooftop lounge area of the new (pic: Terry Murden)

Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes today claimed the new £85 million Johnnie Walker Princes Street facility, which opens next week, will set a new standard for visitor attractions.

Four and a half years in the making, the conversion of a former House of Fraser department store into a multi-purpose venue is the centrepiece of Diageo’s £185million pound investment in Scotch whisky tourism across Scotland.

It is the largest single investment programme of its kind and represents a key milestone in rebuilding the Covid-battered tourism sector.

The Princes Street building, once a regular meeting place in a previous incarnation as the Binns store, is looking to build a clientele of tourists, whisky afficionados and more casual visitors, including those who will frequent the two rooftop bars and terrace – the Explorers’ Bothy whisky bar stocked with 150 whiskies, and the 1820 cocktail bar where drinks are paired with a carefully curated menu. The room features an original artwork by Scottish landscape artist, Scott Naismith.

Rooftop ventilation equipment has been replaced by a welcoming outdoor lounge area with views of the castle.

Recreating the smells of whisky flavourings (pic: Terry Murden)

The latest technology has been installed by leading creatives from BRC  Imagination Arts in California who spent two years developing a cinematic storyboard to tell the history of Johnnie Walker and other displays on the process of whisky making, adding a fresh dynamic to the visitor experience.

The facility is committed to contributing to the community by offering its hospitality training programme for unemployed people in its special Johnnie Walker Learning for Life academy. The building can also host events in its 200-capacity space. 

An actress tells the story of Johnnie Walker (pics: Terry Murden)

The investment in whisky tourism includes the transformation of distillery visitor experiences around Scotland, including Glenkinchie, Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila – the Lowland, Highland, Speyside and Islay homes of Johnnie Walker, linked to Johnnie Walker Princes Street to form a network of attractions.

Mr Menezes, who today raised a flag above the Princes Street building, said: “This is a proud day for everyone. Last year Johnnie Walker celebrated 200 years since founder John Walker opened the doors to his small grocery store and today represents the next chapter of the incredible story.

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