Whisky tourism back on the map at Talisker and Caol Ila

Whisky and tourism, especially to regions such as Speyside and Islay, go hand in hand.

Figures from the Scotch Whisky Association reveal growing whisky curiosity contributed to over two million distillery visits in 2018, and that since 2010 distillery visits had jumped by 56 per cent. Obviously Covid-19 put a stop to travelling and tourists, but we seem to be getting back to a kind-of normal.

One company that hasn’t rested on its laurels over the last few years is Diageo. The company opened their flagship Johnnie Walker visitor experience in autumn of last year and have invested a significant amount in distilleries that help create the famous blend. This has resulted in snazzy new visitor centres, including Cardhu Distillery in Speyside, Glenkinchie in East Lothian and the Singleton near Inverness.

Now two of their brands, Talisker and Caol Ila, which are arguably situated in the most heavily visited parts of Scotland, are reopening to the public. Talisker reopened on August 5 and Caol Ila will reopen later this month.

Among Diageo's portfolio is the Talisker distillery on the Isle of Skye. Picture: Diageo.

Talisker has been regularly referenced in pop culture everywhere from Robert Louis Stevenson to DC Comics ‘Justice League’, and its home has stood proudly by the sea for more than 150 years. Now the distillery has been renovated and the visitor experience completely transformed as part of Diageo’s £185 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism in Scotland.

Of the Talisker reopening, Barbara Smith, managing director of Diageo’s Scotland Brand Homes, said: “Talisker is inseparable from the unique Isle of Skye landscape and its whisky inherently shaped by the sea and landscape that surrounds it. Our new brand home celebrates that deep connection with the sea and Talisker’s commitment to preserving the wonderful marine environment in Scotland and around the world.”

Caol Ila distillery on Islay, which has also undergone a transformation, is the final opening as part of this extensive investment and completes the Four Corners project, the aim of which is to encourage visitors to travel nation-wide in the pursuit of flavour and new whisky experiences.

Guests can look forward to tours, tastings and getting back inside the homes of these much loved distilleries, which have been closed now for some time.

With such a large investment, the future of whisky and tourism, in a post-pandemic world, certainly looks bright.

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