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Diageo submits plans for Caol Ila revamp

Diageo has submitted plans to Argyll & Bute Council, to transform its visitor experience at Caol Ila Distillery.

The detailed Planning Application sets out proposals to expand and enhance the experience the distillery offers to tourists. The submission of formal plans follows a community engagement event in October, at which initial plans were shared with local residents. Pre-application consultation has also been carried out with the local authority.

If approved, the new state-of-the-art visitor experience will be created inside the Caol Ila warehouse, including a bar with views across the Sound of Islay. The visitor centre will be entered via a foot-bridge into the roof of the warehouse, linking to new parking facilities on the hill above the distillery, which will be discreetly located and carefully landscaped to manage visual impact and traffic movement.

Leigh Aitken, Caol Ila Distillery Visitor Centre manager says: “We are very pleased to take this important step in the exciting journey to transform our visitor experience at Caol Ila Distillery. We have had good engagement with local residents and stakeholders on our plans so far and we will continue to work with the local authority and the community as we progress through the formal planning process.

“We believe this investment will not only be great for Caol Ila Distillery but is another positive addition to the rich visitor landscape of the famous Scotch whisky island of Islay.”

In April Diageo announced a £150 million investment programme to transform distillery visitor experiences across Scotland. The investment will see the creation of a global Johnnie Walker brand experience in Edinburgh. 

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Caol Ila, Glenkinchie, Cardhu and Clynelish — will be linked directly to a new Johnnie Walker global visitor experience in Edinburgh, representing the four corners of Scotland and the regional flavour variations that are part of Johnnie Walker.

Caol Ila has supplied single malt Scotch whisky for Johnnie Walker for over a century. Along with the Edinburgh global attraction, the Four Corner distilleries will create a Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s rural communities.

The company is also investing a further £35 million to bring back the lost distilleries of Port Ellen, on Islay, and Brora, in the Highlands, which will even further enhance the reputation of Scotch whisky and Scotland around the world.

14 November 2018 - Sam Coyne the drinks report, editor