There are few places I’d rather be right now than the Explorers’ Bothy at Johnnie Walker Princes Street in Edinburgh. This glam new rooftop whisky bar not only features stunning views of the Edinburgh skyline, it also offers 150 different drams to sample. Then again, its neighbour, 1820, has equally breathtaking views and craft cocktails. Hmm, which to choose?
Both are highlights of Diageo’s new global Johnnie Walker visitor experience, part of the multinational spirits company’s massive £185-million investment in the future of post-pandemic Scotch whisky tourism. (The transformation includes the historic Glenkinchie, Clynelish, Cardhu and Caol Ila distilleries and is the largest single investment of its kind.)
The flagship of the operation is Johnnie Walker Princes Street, luxurious new eight-floor, 71,500-square-foot, ultra-personalized visitor experience celebrating the 200-year-old brand. It is housed in the old Binns department store (later Frasers), which was built in 1935 and remodeled over the last four years. In addition to the two rooftop bars, it features a cellar packed with rare whisky casks and a “Journey of Flavour” where visitors’ personal flavour preferences are mapped. The innovative dispensation systems have more than 800 flavour combinations available, so you could visit Johnnie Walker Princes Street every day for more than two years and not have the same experience twice.
Of course, there is also whisky for purchase—you can select from rare and exclusive whiskies, fill your own bottles and have them personalized. Or you can just pull up a seat in the bothy and drink in that view.
—by Joanne Sasvari