New figures show that Scotland’s whisky tourism industry enjoyed a stellar 2017, with over 400,000 people visiting Diageo’s network of distillery visitor centres.
440,260 people visited one of the dozen distillery visitor centres, representing a 15 per cent increase and a record high since the figures started being collected.
The most popular centre was at Blair Athol distillery in Pitlochry, which is the home of Bells whisky.
The firm is celebrating the news, and International Scotch Day, by opening their doors for free on February 8, 10 and 11 to share some of the secrets of their biggest brands.
Diageo’s Scotland based Head of International Supply, Ewan Andrew, said: “As the country’s lead export, Scotch whisky is one of the biggest magnets for tourism and we’re continuing to grow visitor numbers from around the world.
“We’re also continually working to ensure those visitors have the best experience at our distilleries.
They always enjoy meeting the makers, then tasting and learning more about our outstanding Single Malts and Blended Scotch Whiskies.
We look forward to welcoming even more visitors to our distilleries throughout the year, and especially so for International Scotch Day.”
Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Diageo distilleries have welcomed a record number of visitors in 2017. This is an amazing achievement and a testament to the hard work of staff to give visitors the best experience possible.
“Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities with people from all over the world coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram. A culinary icon, it remains as important as ever to the tourism industry with one in five visitors making a trip to a whisky distillery during their stay and even more visiting a bar, pub or restaurant to sample our renowned national drink.
“Whisky tourism is a vital part of local tourism for many areas in Scotland, attracting visitors, creating jobs and sustaining communities.”