New Edinburgh city centre rooftop bar will open until midnight

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WHISKY giant Diageo is set to open a rooftop bar serving up booze to revellers until midnight.

It was given the thumbs up by the Edinburgh Licensing Board to sell alcohol at its overhaul of the former House of Fraser building on Princes Street in a multi-million pound

Artist's impression of how the building will look

Artist's impression of how the building will look

redevelopment.Diageo, which confirmed it will open the Johnnie Walker whisky experience by the end of 2020, will start guided tour with tasting opportunities from 9.30am – while terrace bars will open to the public from 11am until midnight every day.

The premises, at the west end of Princes Street, falls in one of the board’s new areas of over-provision where applicants need to persuade councillors that a case has been made in exceptional circumstances to grant a new licence.

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David Hossack, representing Diageo, told councillors that transforming the former Frasers and Binns store would “place this building at the heart of the renaissance of the West End”.
He said: “One of the themes that runs through this project is quality of experience, not the quantity of the alcohol that might be provided. This is an iconic building and one that will appeal to Edinburgh folk and visitors alike.”

The ground floor will form flagship retail space including “unique products not available elsewhere”.

The exhibition, which will only be available with a guided tour, will be spread over the first, second and third floors of the building – while the fourth floor will have a 450-capacity events space and a training academy, including a hub for the Diageo Learning for Life programme.

Mr Hossack added: “There’s nowhere like this in Edinburgh.

“It is not a large drinking establishment but a relatively small bar offering high quality.

“For Diageo as a business, the social consequences of alcohol misuse are real and important.”

READ MORE: Johnnie Walker centre plans could bring roof-top bars and 'best bar in the world' to Edinburgh

No smoking will be permitted anywhere in the premises, including the exterior areas of the two rooftop bars, set to be called The Highland Bar and The World Bar.

City centre ward Cllr Joanna Mowat called for plans to allow the two terraced bars to remain open until midnight to be curtailed until 10pm – but the board rejected her
plea.

She said: “In general, I’m quite happy with this. However, I’m very wary of something that’s new that we cannot assess at this stage with a noise report.

“It is at height and we don’t know what will happen. I’m slightly uncomfortable accepting rooftop bars being open until midnight.”

Mr Hossack reassured the board that the terraced bars would not cause noise
disruption to neighbours and said Diageo was in contact with neighbours living in Hope Street.

He added: “The bars on the roof level will be small in nature. We don’t want to have that many people here, it’s very much quality not quantity. We are probably thinking no more than 150 people and it will be largely seated.

READ MORE: Iconic clock to be restored under Johnnie Walker whisky centre plans

“Not everyone that visits the visitor experience will go to the bars. The terrace will offer an unrivalled view of Edinburgh.”

Councillors approved the premises licence for the whisky experience centre.

Chairman of the licensing board, Cllr Norman Work, said: “I know there has been some concern about the roof top. If there were any issues, they could come back to the board.

“This is not just good for Edinburgh, it’s good for Scotland. I think locals will enjoy this too.”