Whisky Tourism - Were Doing It Wrong

Usually when I’m in Edinburgh Airport it’s for work, but recently I was there to catch up with a friend for a quick beer before they returned to South Africa. I was a little early so decided to have a wander about and check out the leaflet stands and visit Scotland information desk.

To say I was a little under-whelmed would be the understatement of the year; there were only FOUR leaflets with anything to do with whisky.

Those leaflets (shown below) covered the Scotch Whisky Experience, Glengoyne Distillery, Dewars World of Whisky (Aberfeldy Distillery) and the Diageo Discovering Distilleries leaflet which obviously covers a few including Glenkinchie.

Geoffrey Smeddle

I couldn’t help but ask myself, why are there not more than this? Where are the leaflets for Deanston, Tullibardine, Edradour, Glenturret (The Famous Grouse Experience), Auchentoshan? Or for that matter any of the other closer distilleries or even the ones on Islay or in Speyside and why not promote whisky tourism better.

Is there a general consensus amongst whisky companies that promoting whisky tourism is wrong? Do they just expect people who want to do whisky tourism will already know what they want? Do they just not cater for anyone who might be persuaded to try whisky, or try visiting a distillery? That is certainly how it looks.

What could or should be done? Well if I knew that I’d probably be working for a whisky company or doing some kind of tourism relating thing, but what I will say is that I’m pretty damn sure there’s a lot more the whisky companies could be doing to promote whisky to the casual visitor.

Many of the whisky companies use sponsorship of events etc but surely having some leaflets in a major arrival destination wouldn’t cost “that” much and would be a welcome boost.

I also think that Visit Scotland should promote a bit more of the benefits of Whisky Tourism, yes I know there will be issues around the marketing and promotion of alcohol but really we need to make the most of the opportunities whisky tourism can bring.

Having that one casual visitor unexpectedly visit a distillery, get a taste of something they then realise they love, buy a bottle (or three) and tell their friends about it, surely that is something that they would want?

Lets not forget that although Scotland is the spiritual home of whisky, we obviously aren’t doing something as good as we could as the most visited distillery in the world was Kavalan in Taiwan which receives over 1 million visitors a year! Distilleries in Scotland could only dream of those types of figures.

As a comparison Diageo released figures which showed in 2010 that over their TWELVE distilleries they received 210,432 visitors in a year, Kavalan is a single distillery getting 5 times that number in a year.

What can be done to improve those figures? If you have any suggestions let me know by tweeting me at @TomsWhisky or on the Facebook Page.

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