Whisky visitors still on the up

Port Ellen on Islay is one of two distilleries Diageo plans to resurrect.

Record numbers flock to Scotland’s distilleries

SCOTLAND’S distilleries enjoyed their “best year ever” with record visitor numbers and increased spending in visitor centres, new figures from the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) have revealed.

A total of 1.9 million visits to distilleries were recorded in 2017 – representing an 11.4% year-on-year increase and a 45% uplift since 2010.

The SWA’s survey also revealed that spending at visitor centres was up 15.6% to £60.9 million; on average, more than £32 was spent during each trip to a visitor centre – up almost 4% year-on-year and an increase of £11 per visit since 2010.

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, said Scotland’s distilleries continue to attract visitors from across the UK and overseas, with visitor centres reporting that the highest number of visitors came from Germany and the USA, followed by India, China and Japan.

“These record figures are great news for the industry and great news for Scotland,” she said.

“Scotch whisky distilleries have invested – and continue to invest – hugely in providing world-class visitor facilities at their sites all over Scotland, and they are collaborating in establishing new whisky trails and finding new ways of telling the story of Scotch to British and foreign visitors alike. And it’s a wonderful story: part traditional, part modern and set among Scotland’s communities and in its breathtaking landscapes.”

VisitScotland chief executive Malcolm Roughead said the growth in Scotch whisky tourism reflects the “hard work and investment by the industry in delivering a world-class experience”.

“Scotch whisky is a culinary and cultural icon and one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, with visitors from across the globe coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram. It is a vital part of local tourism as not only do distilleries benefit from the draw of ‘the water of life’ but so too do the surrounding towns and villages.”

The record distillery visitor numbers come as a number of new distilleries have opened and plans to revive mothballed distilleries have been revealed. Among them, Port Ellen on Islay and Brora in Sutherland are to be reopened by Diageo, while Ian Macleod Distillers plans to revive Rosebank distillery in Falkirk.