Plans tabled for Glenkinchie visitor centre upgrade

11th October, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

Diageo has submitted plans to “significantly expand” the visitor centre at Lowlands distillery Glenkinchie, which is expected to be completed in 2020.

An artist’s impression of Glenkinchie’s new visitor centre

The plans are part of Diageo’s £150 million investment to upgrade its Scotch whisky centres, which also include a new Johnnie Walker experience in Edinburgh.

The upgrade will see Lowland site Glenkinchie ‘directly linked’ to the new Johnnie Walker site, along with three other distilleries representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and Scotch whisky’s regional flavour profiles: Cardhu (Speyside), Caol Ila (Island), and Clynelish (Highlands).

The connection will create a ‘Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland’ to encourage tourists to travel to Edinburgh and other rural Scottish locations.

The planning application submitted to East Lothian Council will see Glenkinchie’s red brick warehouse buildings turned into a multi-level visitor experience.

Plans include a welcome lounge, a retail unit, bar and cocktail-making classroom, tasting rooms and a cask draw experience.

A number of non-original external buildings will be demolished to make way for a welcome garden in front of the visitor centre.

Subject to planning approval, work will commence in 2019 and is expected to be completed by 2020.

Glenkinchie has ties with Johnnie Walker dating back to 1894 when it was listed in stock books as one of the single malts going into the Walker blending inventory.

Ramsay Borthwick, Glenkinchie distillery manager, said: “This is a very significant and exciting point on our journey to transform Glenkinchie.

“We are all incredibly excited about the plans which will surely capture the imagination of Scotch whisky fans of all ages, tastes and experience from around the world.

“We want to celebrate the distillery’s history and combine this with a new state-of-the-art visitor experience which will not only link us to the new global Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh but will establish Glenkinchie as a must-see for tourists in Scotland.”

Glenkinchie was founded by local farmers John and George Rate in 1837 but production ceased in 1853. A group of brewers, blenders and wine merchants from Edinburgh purchased the distillery in 1881 and it was rebuilt in 1890.

The site along with Lowland malt distilleries Rosebank, St Magdalene, Grange and Clydesdale, became known as the Scottish Malt Distilleries in 1914. The group was bought by Distillers Company Ltd, later known as Diageo.

In 2017, Diageo’s Scotch whisky distilleries welcomed 440,260 visitors, an increase of 15.2% compared to 2016. The world’s largest Scotch whisky distiller operates 28 malt distilleries across Scotland, of which 12 have dedicated visitor centres.

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