22 JAN 2018

22 JAN 2018 Press release

Press release

Diageo distillery visitor centres hit record high


Scotch Whisky Attractions Help Drive Scottish Tourism

Scotch whisky tourism is in good spirits at the turn of 2018, as latest figures reveal a record year of visitors to Diageo distilleries across Scotland, according to new figures released today (Monday 22nd January).

Over the last 12 months (January 2017 – December 2017), the number of tourists visiting Diageo’s 12 distillery visitor centres across Scotland reached a record high of 440,260 – an increase of 15.2% on the previous year and the highest figure reported to date as whisky distilleries become a spirited addition to many a bucket list.   

To celebrate the second International Scotch Day (8th February), the distillery visitor centres will open their doors for free on 8th, 10th and 11th February to welcome visitors from home and abroad to experience standard tours of the sites and explore behind the scenes of some of the world’s favourite whiskies.

With visitors flocking to Scottish whisky sites from across the globe, this record year for Diageo demonstrates the growing contribution that Scotch – the world’s favourite whisky – is making to the tourism economy in Scotland.

Diageo’s Scotland based head of International Supply, Ewan Andrew, said: “As the country’s lead export, Scotch whisky is one of the biggest magnets for tourism and we’re continuing to grow visitor numbers from around the world.

“We’re also continually working to ensure those visitors have the best experience at our distilleries. They always enjoy meeting the makers, then tasting and learning more about our outstanding Single Malts and Blended Scotch Whiskies. We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to our distilleries throughout the year, and especially so for International Scotch Day.”

Over the last five years, the attractions have recorded a remarkable 96.3% growth in visitor numbers across the country, fuelled by international visitors to Scotland and the increasing rise of staycations.

Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry, the iconic ‘home’ of the Bells’ Scotch whisky brand, was Diageo’s busiest distillery visitor centre drawing in 86,019 people over the 12 month period. This rise in visitors, up 23% from the previous year, is in part due to the launch of the site’s innovative mash tun whisky tasting bar which was officially opened by Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, in July.

With commentary on the latest figures, Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Diageo distilleries have welcomed a record number of visitors in 2017.  This is an amazing achievement and a testament to the hard work of staff to give visitors the best experience possible.

“Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities with people from all over the world coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram. A culinary icon, it remains as important as ever to the tourism industry with one in five visitors making a trip to a whisky distillery during their stay and even more visiting a bar, pub or restaurant to sample our renowned national drink.

“Whisky tourism is a vital part of local tourism for many areas in Scotland, attracting visitors, creating jobs and sustaining communities.”

Other success stories include Clynelish Distillery, situated in Brora, experiencing the biggest year-on-year increase in figures to 8,544, a rise of over 127% from 3,771 the previous year, while Lagavulin Distillery’s Visitor Centre welcomed 27,040 people through its doors in 2017 as it capped its 200th year with a 50% rise in visitors.     

Diageo operates 28 malt whisky distilleries, of which, 12 have dedicated visitor centres, making it the leading provider of whisky tourism facilities in Scotland, and accounting for 1/3 of the Scotch industry in Scotland. These include the homes of some of Diageo’s most iconic Scotch whisky brands such as Johnnie Walker Blended Scotch and Glenkinchie, Talisker, Oban, Dalwhinnie and Cardhu Single Malts.

To sign up for a free standard tour on Thursday 8, Saturday 10 or Sunday 11 February, visit www.diageo.com



Heather Marston / Ashleigh Vallance

3x1 Public Relations

0131 225 7700 / 0141 221 0707 / 07824 817 977

hmarston@3x1.com / avallance@3x1.com


Diageo Scotland Press Office

Tel: 0131 519 2133 (24 hour)


Emma Pollock, Corporate Relations Manager, Diageo Scotland – 07590 810 743




Diageo Distillery Visitor Centres will be open for free standard tours on Thursday 8, Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 February 2018. The participating Visitor Centres are at Blair Athol, Caol Ila, Cardhu, Clynelish, Dalwhinnie, Glenkinchie, Glen Ord, Lagavulin, Oban, Royal Lochnagar and Talisker. The Cragganmore Distillery Visitor Centre is currently closed until March 2018. Free tour entry is subject to availability and to Diageo’s standard terms and conditions for Distillery Visitor Centre tours. Visit www.diageo.com for more information and to sign up.

The public will also be given a rare opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at the Diageo Archive in Menstrie, near Alloa on Thursday 8 February. Places on tours at the Diageo Archive are limited and will be reserved for the first 100 who register. To register for a tour please email: archive.menstrie@diageo.com. Only individuals over the age of 18 can register for the Diageo Archive tour. Tours will be conducted during the following time slots: 10 – 11am, 11.30am – 12.30pm, 2-3pm and 3.30-4.30pm. Full details will be announced here - www.diageo.com

About Diageo

Diageo is a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits, beer and wine categories.  These brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, JεB, Buchanan’s, and Windsor whiskies, Smirnoff, Cîroc and Ketel One vodkas, Captain Morgan, Baileys, Don Julio, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Diageo is a global company, and our products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.  The company is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (DGE) and the New York Stock Exchange (DEO).  For more information about Diageo, our people, our brands, and performance, visit us at www.diageo.com. Visit Diageo’s global responsible drinking resource, www.DRINKiQ.com, for information, initiatives, and ways to share best practice.

Celebrating life, every day, everywhere.

About Diageo in Scotland

  • Scotland is one of Diageo’s largest spirit supply centres responsible for producing nearly 50 million cases of leading brands of Scotch whisky and white spirits and over four million cases of Ready To Drink brands annually.
  • Around 85% of Diageo’s production in Scotland is sold overseas.
  • Diageo in Scotland currently employs around 4,000 people.
  • Diageo currently operates 28 malt distilleries and one grain distillery and has a 50 per cent share in a further grain distillery.
  • As well as engineering and technical support functions, there are extensive warehousing and packaging operations in Scotland and the company’s Scottish headquarters are in Edinburgh

About Blair Athol Distillery’s whisky tasting bar

In one of the most innovative examples of “up-cycling” seen in the Scotch whisky industry, coppersmiths from Diageo Abercrombie in Alloa, who are usually employed making copper potstills for whisky production, took a redundant mash tun – a massive cylindrical copper and cast-iron vessel used in whisky distilling – and transformed it into the bespoke whisky tasting bar which will now be the centre-piece of Blair Athol’s visitor centre.

The mash tun which was used to create the bar was originally from Diageo’s Clynelish Distillery in Brora on the north east coast of Scotland. It had been replaced during a major refurbishment of the distillery and rather than scrap it, the decision was taken to transform it into the Blair Athol tasting bar.

The concept for the bar was created by Great Brink, a cutting-edge Edinburgh-based design and production consultancy, who worked with the coppersmiths to re-imagine the mash tun into a magnificent, experiential tasting bar.