Drinks giant Diageo has unveiled plans for a new island distillery visitor centre that will play a key role in its £150 million whisky tourism initiative.
Caol Ila, on Islay in the Inner Hebrides, is one four distilleries where the firm is developing tourist attractions focusing on its Johnnie Walker brand.
Diageo’s proposals, announced earlier this year, will also see centres at Cardhu, in Speyside, Clynelish, at Brora, and Glenkinchie, in East Lothian “transformed” and a new “global visitor experience” developed in Edinburgh, devoted to the world’s most widely distributed blended Scotch whisky.
Islay residents were the first to see the outline plans for Caol Ila during a community evening held by the company at the distillery. They were also invited to give feedback before the firm applies for planning permission for the development.
Under the plans, the new visitor centre, which will include a bar, will be created in the distillery’s warehouse, overlooking the Sound of Islay. Entry to the building from new parking facilities will be by a foot-bridge into the building’s roof.
Caol Ila distillery manager Pierrick Guillaume said: “We are very excited about the plans to transform the visitor experience at Caol Ila with this investment. A lot of careful thought has been put into the plans to ensure we minimise any impact on the local community.
“It was great to welcome local residents to the distillery and to share our plans with them first and to get their input. We look forward to working with the community and stakeholders as we progress the plans.”
Diageo’s whisky tourism plan will also see investment in visitor facilities at renowned distilleries including Talisker on Skye, Glen Ord at Muir of Ord, and Cragganmore on Speyside.