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Potential of Scotch whisky tourism for Scotland hailed as Johnnie Walker Princes Street marks first anniversary

Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh opened its doors to the public in September last year

THE positive impact Scotch whisky tourism can have for Scotland has been celebrated as the country’s leading new visitor attraction marks its first year of business.

Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh opened its doors to the public in September last year, and despite pandemic lockdowns and major travel restrictions, it succeeded in welcoming more than 300,000 visitors from 97 different countries around the world.

A key part of the mission of Johnnie Walker Princes Street is to introduce Scotch whisky to new consumers and to challenge traditional perceptions of Scotland’s national drink. Encouragingly, 50% of visitors to the venue were women, 56% were not regular Scotch whisky drinkers. Domestic guests noted a 26% increase in likelihood to drink whisky within four weeks of visiting the experience, rising to 29% for international visitors. 

Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street, said: “It has been a tough year for everyone in tourism and hospitality, and we are under no illusion that many serious difficulties remain as we try to rebuild Scotland’s visitor sector. But it is also important to celebrate positive achievement, and I am incredibly proud of what the team at Johnnie Walker Princes Street have managed to deliver in the first year of operation.”

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“I am particularly encouraged by the diversity of our guests, with half of all visitors being women, and with an international spread of 97 countries. Our aim at Johnnie Walker Princes Street is to challenge perceptions, bust myths, and show that whisky really is for everyone. So, it’s good to see the diversity in our guests and to be able to look at the figures and see we’re helping people find their perfect way to enjoy Scotland’s best loved export.”

Johnnie Walker Princes Street is the centrepiece of Diageo’s £185million investment in Scotch whisky tourism in Scotland, which also includes the transformation of the company’s distillery visitor experiences the length and breadth of Scotland.

Ewan Andrew, Diageo President of Supply Chain & Procurement, who has led the Scotland investment programme, said: “Scotch whisky is in great demand around the world, as Johnnie Walker’s record global sales figures over the past year has shown. We want to bring those consumers from all around the world to Scotland and give them an unforgettable experience. The first year of operation at Johnnie Walker Princes Street gives us great confidence that we can achieve that and continue to build the reputation of Scotch whisky as the world’s best loved distilled spirit.”

Scotch whisky tourism recorded its record year in 2019 before the pandemic, with a total of 2.1 million visitors to distilleries. While the pandemic has been a major setback, the figures from Johnnie Walker Princes Street’s first year, were welcomed by the industry as a positive sign of recovery.

Graeme Littlejohn, Director of Strategy at the Scotch Whisky Association, said: “Scotch Whisky is enjoyed around the world – famous for its quality, heritage and unique history.”

“What the industry has missed over the course of the Covid pandemic is welcoming visitors from home and abroad to discover more about the story of Scotch. It is fantastic to see people returning to Scotland and visiting our world-class tourist attractions dedicated to sharing Scotland’s world-renowned spirit.”

VisitScotland Regional Director, Neil Christison said: “Congratulations to the team at Johnnie Walker Princes Street on their first anniversary and reaching 300,000 visitor milestone, a fantastic achievement as our industry begins to recover from the pandemic.” 

“We know that Scotland’s world-famous heritage including whisky is an important part of our visitor appeal, especially among international visitors with one in five visiting a distillery before the pandemic. We are also seeing growing interest for artisanal food and drink experiences as visitors look to connect with the people and processes behind our iconic products.” 

“It is fantastic to see visitors returning from across the world and closer to home, supporting the recovery of our vital industry and the wider economy.”

Johnnie Walker Princes Street takes visitors on an immersive journey through the 200-year-old history behind the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky. From personalised tours and rooftop bars serving seriously creative cocktails paired with world class food, to state of the art experiential retail and much more besides, there’s plenty for tourist to be excited about across the eight floor, 71,500 square foot venue.

Advance pre-booking of experiences is highly recommended. Tickets for the Johnnie Walker Princes Street tours start from £28, which includes a 90-minute tour and three personalised Scotch whisky drinks.

To book an experience, sign up to the Johnnie Walker Princes Street mailing list or for more information, please visit

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