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Plans unveiled for Clynelish Distillery visitor centre upgrade

Diageo has revealed details of its plan to upgrade the visitor centre at Highlands distillery Clynelish, announced as part of the firm’s £150 million (US$215m) investment in Scotch whisky tourism.

An artist’s impression of the Clynelish Distillery transformation

Diageo’s extensive investment will see the site near Brora, in Sunderland, ‘directly linked’ to the new Johnnie Walker site in Edinburgh, along with three other distilleries representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and Scotch whisky’s regional flavour profiles: Cardhu (Speyside), Caol Ila (Island), and Glenkinchie (Lowlands).

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

Local residents and community representatives attended an event at the Clynelish Distillery on Tuesday 12 March for a first look at the plans.

The plans include a “comprehensive upgrade” of the visitor experience, featuring a new upper floor and a bar and tasting area with views of the Sutherland coast. The area around the site will also benefit from improved landscaping.

Clynelish Distillery shares its location with the iconic Brora Distillery, which closed in 1983. Work has already begun on Brora, which will restart production as part of Diageo’s £35m (US$46m) investment programme that will also include the revival of closed Islay distillery Port Ellen.

Jacqueline James-Bow, Clynelish Distillery brand home manager, said: “We are very excited to be able to share our plans for the future with our neighbours and local stakeholders.

“Tourism is an increasingly important part of the Highland economy and Scotch whisky tourism is one of the major attractions driving economic growth in rural communities such as Brora.

“With the work we are already doing at Brora Distillery, and that we plan to do at Clynelish, we are bringing major investment and creating exciting new economic opportunities for the community.”

Diageo submitted plans to expand Glenkinchie Distillery’s visitor centre in October last year, followed by plans to upgrade its Caol Ila visitor experience in November.

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