Scotland’s Whisky Tourism Hits Record Numbers
Similar to many of America’s artisan industries, craft distilling has been undergoing a massive boom. Last month, the American Craft Spirits Association announced that the number of craft distilleries in the country jumped another 26 percent in 2017 to a total of 1,589. But this rising tide of excitement around spirits isn’t just confined to new producers in the States. Visits to one of the most established and renowned distilling regions in the world, Scotland, also reached a record high last year. According to the Scotch Whisky Association, the country saw a whopping 1.9 million Scotch whisky tourists in 2017—more than three times the population of Glasgow.
According to the report, the number of Scotch-loving tourists jumped 11.4 percent from the previous year and is up a staggering 45 percent since just 2010. All that activity added up to about $80 million being spent in distillery visitor centers, buoyed in part by a 15.6 percent increase in spending during these stops. (Can’t blame people for wanting to bring some Scotch home!) Broken down by country, Germany led the way in tourism, followed by the United States, India, China, and Japan.
As The Drinks Business points out, a least some of that increased tourism isn’t by chance. Over half a dozen new visitor centers and distilleries have either opened or been announced this year, and those that already existed have been working to entice guests by improving existing facilities with things like interactive tours and longer opening hours. For one major example, look no further than The Macallan’s new tribute to Scotch, a $200 million project five years in the making that finally opened in June.
“These are exciting times,” Karen Betts, chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, was quoted as saying. “Scotch Whisky distilleries have invested—and continue to invest—hugely in providing world-class visitor facilities at their sites all over Scotland, and they are collaborating in establishing new whisky trails and finding new ways of telling the story of Scotch to British and foreign visitors alike. And it’s a wonderful story: part traditional, part modern and set among Scotland’s communities and in its breathtaking landscapes.”
So what are you waiting for? Don’t just walk to your liquor cabinet to grab a bottle of Scotch. Why not head to Scotland instead?