The year 1820 was when one John Walker established a humble grocer’s shop in Kilmarnock, in the Scottish burgh of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. But we’re quite sure that he couldn’t ever have imagined that his legacy would lead to the establishment of eight-storey, multisensory whisky Disneyland!
Yet, the new Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in the centre of Edinburgh in Scotland is just that – a dazzling homage to what has become the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky, its story told through an immersive blend of light, sound, food, drink and artistic performance.
The development has been a long time coming. In 2018, the Johnnie Walker brand’s current owner Diageo unveiled a £185 million investment plan to upgrade the visitor experiences at several of its distilleries. Each would be linked together by a central Edinburgh attraction so grand in scale and ambition that it would form the jewel in the group’s Scotch whisky crown!
Designed by BRC Imagination Arts, the same agency behind the NASA Kennedy Space Centre in Florida and Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the attraction features state-of-the-art facilities led by some of the most talented bartenders, chefs, tour guides, whisky experts and ambassadors.
“Here, the story of the world’s best-selling whisky has been brought to life with flair and imagination and we have built a team that includes some of the most talented individuals in their fields. We are now ready to welcome visitors and begin telling the next chapter of how we are woven into the fabric of Scotland’s history and communities,” reveals Barbara Smith, Managing Director of Johnnie Walker Princes Street.
And before you go ‘who cares about how they make whisky?’, know you this – In 2019, the Scotch Whisky industry attracted a record number of 2.16 million visitors! Thus, through this sort of enthusiasm about all things malty, Johnnie Walker Princes Street aims to rebuild Scotch whisky tourism for the future.
The investment from Diageo also 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 world-class network of attractions the length and breadth of Scotland.
And as the world slowly but surely reopens again on the tail of the swift and efficient progress of Covid-19 vaccinations, perhaps now’s the time for many of us to dream a little, and plan ahead for a bit of a whisky holiday then?
Well if that’s the case, then why not put a reminder on that to-do list to make a visit to the store that opened its doors to the public just recently on September 6? Tickets for guided tours start from £25 per person (approx. RM145), covering a 90-minute tour and also happily includes three personalised Scotch whisky drinks.
To book your spot for the experience and for more information, visit www.johnniewalkerprincesstreet.com