Scotch whisky tourism has enjoyed another boom year with record visitor numbers, according to new visitor figures released by the drinks giant.
The report said that over the past 12 months (July 2016 - June 2017), the number of tourists visiting Diageo’s 12 distillery visitor centres in Scotland has passed the 400,000 mark for the first time, with a total of 409,908 people visiting – up 7 per cent on the previous year.
The brand say that this continues a trend of consistent year-on-year growth in visitor numbers over the past decade for them, with their distilleries now attracting "more than double the number of people they did eight years ago".
The latest figures were announced at Blair Athol Distillery in Pitlochry, Diageo’s busiest Scotch attraction last year with a record 75,234 visitors – an increase of 7.7 per cent on the previous year.
Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland Chief Executive, officially opened the new bar at Blair Athol and raised a toast to the Scotch whisky industry for the contribution it makes to tourism growth.
He said: “Whisky is one of Scotland’s most valuable commodities, with visitors from all over the world coming to our shores to experience an authentic Scottish dram.
"Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation. This new whisky tasting bar at Blair Athol is a fantastic example of how the industry is working to attract new visitors and continue its vital contribution to the Scottish economy.”
Diageo Scotland Director, Ewan Andrew, joined Mr Roughead to open the bar and announce the record-breaking figures. He said: “Scotch whisky is not only the country’s most valuable export industry, it’s the world’s most popular spirit, attracting visitors from around the globe to Scotland.
"That’s great for our distilleries but it also makes a major contribution to the local economies and communities where we operate.
“We have seen visitor numbers increasing rapidly over recent years as global Scotch sales have grown, and we’re investing to ensure Scotch continues to grow and that we welcome even more visitors to Scotland in the years ahead.”
Diageo, which is the leading provider of Scotch whisky tourism experiences in Scotland, run 12 distillery visitor centres across Scotland, from Glenkinchie near Edinburgh to iconic distilleries such as Lagavulin and Talisker in the western isles to Clynelish and Glen Ord in the north highlands and with other famous names such as Dalwhinnie, Cardhu and Royal Lochnagar in between.