Scotch Whisky Experience unveils new immersive tour

Scotch Whisky Experience unveils new immersive tour

The revamped section of the Experience includes immersive audio-visual technology not used before by a tourist attraction.

News | 05 Jul 2023 | By Gavin Smith

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The Scotch Whisky Experience has been showcasing the world of Scotch whisky from its prime location close to Edinburgh Castle since 1988.


Now, after 35 years offering education and entertainment, the five-star-rated Experience is about to open a new chapter later this month. This follows a £3.5 million investment to enhance the story of Scotch whisky’s creation and maturation by way of three immersive tour areas, combining technologies in an exciting new way, not previously seen at a visitor attraction in the UK.


Today, Edinburgh boasts a host of whisky-related attractions, including Holyrood Distillery, the soon-to-open Port of Leith Distillery, and the high-profile Johnnie Walker Princes Street, but back in the 1980s, the Experience was the first concerted attempt by the distilling industry to provide a dedicated focus for those eager to learn about Scotch while in the capital.


The Experience – originally the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre – was established as a result of a collaboration between 19 individual distilling companies, which invested a total of £2 million to transform the old Castlehill School into a centre to showcase the history and development of Scotch whisky from small-scale, localised origins into the global phenomenon it is today.


As part of its latest reimagination, three years in the planning and execution, the attraction has replaced the ‘barrel ride’ familiar to previous visitors with an innovative new way to tell the story of Scotch whisky from a crop in a field to liquid in a bottle.


Initially, in the Origins area, visitors will be transported to a peaceful Highland glen, where beautiful immersive technology creates a tranquil introduction to the elements and ingredients that shape the spirit. Participants can discover the secret of how the landscape enriches the soft Scottish water and watch barley fields turn from green to gold before the grain is harvested.


The second new area is The Art of Whisky Making, where a remarkable kinetic sculpture combines with innovative media so that the distilling process can be seen from inside and out. According to the Experience team, “The process is visualised in a way never seen before, embodying the art of whisky making.”


Finally comes Maturation, in which visitors are seated inside a giant whisky cask to witness the charring, firing, and filling processes, allowing for a unique view of how the cask changes the character of the whisky as the years pass by. Master blender Richard Paterson of The Dalmore declares, “The maturation process is highly complex but this portrays it perfectly.”

Scotch Whisky Experience guide Corin Rhys Jones unveils the new immersive tour. Credit: The Scotch Whisky Experience


After learning about whisky production and maturation, visitors then explore Scotland’s various whisky regions, discover the art of blending, and finally share a dram, while admiring the remarkable ranks of bottles that form the Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection, one of the world’s largest such collections, numbering a grand total of 3,384 bottles.


The Scotch Whisky Experience is also home to Amber Restaurant and boasts an excellent shop, stocking more than 450 whiskies, homeware, cocktail ingredients and equipment, confectionery, whisky accessories, and books.


Susan Morrison, CEO of The Scotch Whisky Experience, says, “80 per cent of our visitors are international and 79 per cent tell us they know little or nothing about whisky when they come to the Experience. Scotch whisky is on their ‘tick list’. We want to inspire and inform them, so that hopefully they will go on to visit distilleries and continue their whisky journey.


“We want people to go away with an understanding of how whisky is made, but the aim is to keep it relatively simple and entertaining. People are on holiday! We do, however, offer more in-depth tour options for anyone who wants to dig deeper. I think the new areas we have developed mean that we ‘place’ people better in Scotland, give them a better context at the start of the tour in Origins, and Maturation has exceeded all our expectations.”


Visitors from the USA and England are the leading nationalities taking in the Experience, followed by those from France and China, and with direct flights from Beijing to Edinburgh now reinstated post-Covid, many Chinese travellers are expected in the months ahead.


According to Morrison, “This year, we are back up to 2019 numbers, and more people than ever are trading up to our ‘Gold Tour’. They are wanting to know more. Overall, our job is to open the door to the world of Scotch whisky.”


Tours are available in 20 languages and there is a range of ticket options to suit varying levels of interest, timescales and price points. Visit to discover more.

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