Plans to transform a landmark building in the Scottish capital into a "global visitor experience" for Johnnie Walker have been submitted to City of Edinburgh Council.

The attraction is intended to be the focal point of a £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism by Diageo, the drinks giant said.

The planning application, jointly submitted by Diageo and the building owner Parabola, sets out proposals for a seven-floor visitor experience at 146 Princes Street.

The proposals would see the "meticulous restoration of the building with its many beautiful heritage features preserved where possible and integrated into the new development".

This will include restoring the famous clock on the corner of Princes Street and Hope Street –known locally as the Binns corner after the former department store - which was earlier an Edinburgh institution and traditional meeting point for city residents.

Most recently it was home to House of Fraser.

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It says it will include a "multi-sensory, immersive visitor experience" across three floors, guiding people through the 200 year history of the brand, the art and science of whisky-making, and taking them on a journey through the flavours of Scotland.

Diageo said the centre will be a flexible events space for staging music, theatre, arts and community events, making the venue part of the thriving cultural life of the city.


It will also house a bar academy that will be a home for Diageo’s Learning for Life programme, which creates training and employment opportunities in the hospitality industry for unemployed people, and works to improve hospitality standards and promotes the responsible serving and consumption of alcohol.

There will also be roof-top bars with views of Edinburgh Castle and across the city skyline to east, west and north, "with the intention of making it one of the world’s most extraordinary iconic hospitality destinations".

At street level the plans include a significant retail space, bringing a contemporary shopping experience and interior design inspired by the Johnnie Walker retail flagship store in Madrid, which opened in November.

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Economic projections for the plan indicate it will create between 160 and 180 full time equivalent jobs and generate £135m in tourism spend.

It is claimed the development also creates a powerful strategic opportunity for Edinburgh city centre, establishing a major attraction in the west end, helping to balance visitor footfall across the city.

David Cutter, chairman of Diageo in Scotland, said: "We are incredibly excited to be able to submit our plans for the Johnnie Walker visitor experience in Edinburgh.

"The location is one of Edinburgh’s most exceptional landmark buildings and we plan to restore it to its former glory as a cornerstone of the city and a thriving part of its cultural and social life.

"We have the most passionate and skilled whisky-makers in the world here in Scotland and we want to celebrate their craft and everything that is great about Scotland and whisky.”

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Tony Hordon, managing director of Parabola, said: "With Diageo and their vision, we believe we have a use which will not only protect the building for many years to come, but it also celebrates the building, its history, and its heritage."

Diageo is currently investing over £185m in Scotch whisky experiences in Scotland.

As well as the Edinburgh location, the company is also investing to transform its existing 12 distillery visitor attractions across Scotland and a £35m investment to reopen the iconic distilleries of Port Ellen and Brora.