Johnnie Walker transformation plans submitted for Cardhu and Clynelish

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Plans to transform the visitor experiences at Cardhu and Clynelish distilleries have been formally submitted as part of a major Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky investment programme.

Detailed planning applications have been completed for both distilleries. This follows community consultation events. Applications have been filed with the relevant local authorities – Moray Council for Cardhu and Highland Council for Clynelish.

The plans are part of a £150m investment in Scotch whisky tourism by leading distilling company Diageo. These focus on the world’s best-selling Scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker.

Under the investment plans, Cardhu will become the Speyside home of Johnnie Walker and Clynelish will become the Highland home of Johnnie Walker. They will be thematically linked to a new global Johnnie Walker visitor attraction in Edinburgh. Both distilleries have long associations with Johnnie Walker. They remain two of the most important single malts in the making of the brand.


Cardhu has strong ties to Johnnie Walker. It was the first distillery to be acquired by John Walker & Sons in 1893. The distillery remains a key Johnnie Walker single malt today.

Under the plans the visitor experience at Cardhu will highlight the story of Helen and Elizabeth Cumming. These pioneering women established and ran the distillery in the 19th Century. They experience will also explore their connections to the Walker family.

The plans also include significant new external landscaping around the distillery. This is to enhance access and to create a new orchard space for visitors to enjoy.

Laura Sharp, Cardhu Distillery Brand Home Manager, said: “This is an important step in our plans for the distillery. We have already shared our initial plans with the local community. Now we look forward to working with local stakeholders as we progress the planning process.

“Speyside a hugely important part of the Scotch whisky tourism map and we are very excited by the plans for Cardhu, which we believe will bring new visitors to the distillery and to the region.”

Clynelish transformation plans image

Clynelish Distillery

Clynelish has had a long association with Johnnie Walker and it remains one of the key Johnnie Walker single malts today.

The plans include a comprehensive upgrade of the distillery visitor experience with a new upper floor to tell the Clynelish story. This is as well as a new bar and tasting area offering panoramic views of the beautiful Sutherland coast. The area surrounding the distillery will also benefit from enhanced landscaping.

Clynelish Distillery shares its location with the iconic Brora Distillery, which closed in 1983. Work is already underway to bring Brora back into production. This is part of a separate £35m investment programme that will also revive distilling at Port Ellen Distillery on Islay.

Jacqueline James-Bow, Clynelish Distillery Brand Home Manager, said: “This is another significant milestone on our journey to transform the visitor experience at Clynelish.

“We have seen great growth in tourism over recent years with the NC500 bringing new visitors to the Highlands. We believe the investment we are making at the distillery will create a major new attraction and help bring more tourists to this part of the world in the future.”

Subject to successful planning permission, work should commence at both distilleries later this year with completion targeted for late 2020.

Cardhu and Clynelish are amongst a number of Diageo distilleries that will see major work undertaken as part investment plans totalling more than £185 million across Scotland.

This will includes £150 million investment in the new global visitor attraction for Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh. It also includes investment in 12 distillery brand homes, and the £35 million investment in the revival of the iconic lost distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker. Four distilleries – Cardhu, Clynelish, Glenkinchie and Caol Ila – will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh. They represent the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of whisky blending. Together these sites will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland. They encourage visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.

Tags: CardhuClynelishJohnnie Walkertransformation plans
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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