Johnnie Walker submits Edinburgh visitor centre plans

12 February, 2019
Johnnie Walker Edinburgh visitor centre

Diageo has submitted plans to transform one of Edinburgh’s landmark buildings into a global visitor experience for Johnnie Walker, the world’s leading scotch whisky brand

Plans have been formally submitted to City of Edinburgh Council. Diageo says the Edinburgh attraction is intended to be the focal point of a £150m investment in scotch whisky tourism.

The planning application, jointly submitted by Diageo and the building owner Parabola, sets out proposals for a seven floor visitor experience 146 Princes Street.

The proposals would see the restoration of the building with its many heritage features preserved where possible and integrated into the new development. This will include restoring the famous clock on the corner of Princes Street and Hope Street – known locally as the Binns corner after the former department store - which was an Edinburgh institution.

The plans include:

  • A “multi-sensory, immersive visitor experience” across three floors, guiding people through the 200 year history of the brand, the art and science of whisky-making, 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 cultural life of the city.
  • A bar academy that will be a home for Diageo’s 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.
  • Roof-top bars with stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and across the city skyline to east, west and north, with the intention of “making it one of the world’s most extraordinary iconic hospitality destinations”.
  • At street level the plans include a significant retail space, bringing a contemporary shopping experience and interior design inspired by the Johnnie Walker retail flagship store in Madrid, which opened in November.

Economic projections for the plans indicate that when fully operational it will create between 160 and 180 new full-time equivalent jobs and generate in the region of £135m in tourism spend in the wider Edinburgh economy through the visitors it attracts to the city.

The development also creates a strategic opportunity for Edinburgh city centre, establishing a major attraction in the west end, helping to balance visitor footfall across the city.

David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: “The location is one of Edinburgh’s most exceptional landmark buildings and we plan to restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city and a thriving part of its cultural and social life.

“We have the most passionate and skilled whisky-makers in the world here in Scotland and we want to celebrate their craft and everything that is great about Scotland and whisky.”

Diageo global scotch whisky director, Cristina Diezhandino, said: “Johnnie Walker is the leading international whisky brand, with truly global reach and we believe our plans will create a flagship attraction that will bring people to Scotland from the four corners of the world.





Comment

Philip Duff

Make safety sexy

It was the Worshipful Company of Distillers’ annual dinner at the Lord Mayor of London’s residence Mansion House a few weeks ago, and as a junior member of the Gin Guild I was permitted to attend, provided I promised not to pinch any silverware and did a little light sweeping afterwards.

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