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Diageo: Barbara Smith to head Johnnie Walker visitor experience

Diageo: Barbara Smith to head Johnnie Walker visitor experience

 December 02, 2019

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Diageo has appointed Barbara Smith to run its new global flagship visitor attraction for Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh. In her role as General Manager of the Johnnie Walker Princes Street Visitor Experience, Barbara is also responsible for the company's 14 distillery brand homes in Scotland.

The Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction is the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism, which includes the transformation of the visitor experiences at the distilleries around Scotland.

An impressive CV for Barbara

Barbara has more than 30 years' leadership experience running some of the UK’s foremost leisure and tourist attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, Chester Zoo and Edinburgh Zoo, building a strong reputation for developing major visitor destinations.

“I am incredibly excited to join Diageo and Johnnie Walker at a time when they are making such a major investment in the future of Scotch whisky tourism, both in Edinburgh with the Johnnie Walker Princes Street flagship and in distilleries around Scotland. I look forward enormously to playing a leading role in delivering this transformational programme," said Barbara.

Cristina Diezhandino, Diageo Global Scotch Whisky Director, added “We are absolutely delighted to have recruited a leader of Barbara’s quality to run our whisky visitor experiences in Scotland. She has an exceptional record of leadership at some of the UK’s most successful attractions and we are thrilled to have someone of such capability, experience and vision joining us.”

Diageo's investment across its distilleries

Diageo Johnnie Walker distillery

As well as creating the Johnnie Walker Princes Street global flagship, Diageo’s whisky tourism investment is transforming four distilleries - Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – that will be linked to the Edinburgh venue, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of making whisky. 

Together these sites will create a unique Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to the capital city to also travel to the country’s extraordinary rural communities.

Diageo is also investing over £35 million to restore the lost distilleries of Brora in the Highlands and Port Ellen on Islay, which will take the number of distillery visitor experiences in Scotland to 14.

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