Diageo’s Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction was opened to the public in late 2021 and we took the opportunity to take part in the Whisky Makers’ Cellar Experience.
The 8-storey building is a shrine to Scotch whisky and there are multiple experiences available to those interested in visiting. It really has an option for everyone, from a complete beginner to more experienced drinkers, or even for those wanting to know more about the story behind Johnnie Walker, or simply to enjoy some cocktails with stunning views of Edinburgh. We decided to choose the experience designed for ‘whisky connoisseurs’, according to their website, and it was held at an underground cellar with access to whiskies directly from the cask.
The Whisky Makers’ Cellar experience included the opportunity to taste three single malts, one single grain and a Johnnie Walker Princes Street exclusive blend (plus an additional dram to close off the session after 1.5 hours with our host Daan).
The private casks change over time and for this session, we had the option of choosing as follows:
- ‘Single Malts’ (two from the following): Caol Ila 2007 52.5% abv; Cardhu 2016 59.9% abv; Clynelish 2008 54.2% abv; Glenkinchie 2011 54.2% abv
- ‘Experimental Whisky’ (one from the following): Glen Elgin 2016 62.4% abv made using champagne yeast; Teaninich 2016 58.6% abv made with both rye and malted barley in the mash
- ‘Single Grain’ (one from the following): Cameronbridge 2007 55.4% abv; Cameronbridge 2009 59.8% abv
- Princes Street Maker’s Blend – we selected the blend created by Master Blender Stuart Morrison
The experience was definitely fun and informative in equal measure and our host Daan was excellent in making sure we were all engaged throughout the session. It was interesting to hear that Diageo is using the Princes Street Whisky Makers’ Cellar as a test given that the temperatures in the room are higher than in your typical warehouse for the casks, so they are assessing the impact on the whisky inside the casks.
We also had access to a tasting companion notebook for making notes on the whiskies tasted on the day, which we could keep afterwards as a memento for the day.
At the price paid for the Whisky Makers’ Cellar experience, I had expected that this would have included more information on the story behind Johnnie Walker and its humble beginnings back in Kilmarnock in the 1820’s. However the general tour/ Journey of Flavour experience was not part of it and although we were tempted to have joined on the day, it was sold out already.
The 1820 rooftop bar is definitely on the list for a future visit and again, this will have to be booked in advance to guarantee a seat with the attractive views overlooking Edinburgh Castle.
We finished off the experience with a visit to the Whisky Retail shop to use our discount code on some Johnnie Walker goodies before heading off next door to the Angels Share bar for a few more drams….