IT has been a hugely significant week for the Scotch whisky industry which has again underlined its value to the Scottish economy.

On the west coast, the much-celebrated Islay distillery of Port Ellen was finally reawakened by owner Diageo after four decades in mothballs. The reopening was a seminal moment for many Scotch whisky lovers, who for years have longed for production to recommence at this singular distillery.

The rebirth of Port Ellen marked the culmination of a £185 million project which has seen Diageo revive two notable “ghost” distilleries in its portfolio, with the reopening coming after the Scotch whisky giant restored production at the previously mothballed Brora Distillery in Sutherland in 2021.

Those projects have come alongside considerable investment by the company to enhance visitor experiences at a host of its other distilleries, as it has looked to capitalise on the growing popularity of whisky tourism in Scotland.

READ MORE: Scotland's oldest working distillery unveils new boss

Diageo noted on Tuesday that it had drawn on Port Ellen’s “extraordinary heritage as one of the most pioneering distilleries of the 19th century” while building a new distillery “from the ground up to push the boundaries of innovation, experimentation and sustainability”.

“This is a landmark moment for Diageo and Scotch whisky,” declared Ewan Andrew, the company’s president of global supply chain and procurement and chief sustainability officer. “Port Ellen is rooted in the land and the people of Islay, yet it is a name that resonates around the world as a watchword for quality single malt Scotch whisky.”

Meanwhile, over in Perthshire there has also been a buzz in the whisky industry this week.

As revealed exclusively by The Herald, The Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest working distillery with a history dating back more than two centuries, lifted the lid on some major developments of its own.

The Glenturret has packed a lot in since the Crieff distillery, which celebrates its 261st anniversary next month, was acquired by Lalique Group of France from Scotch whisky firm Edrington in 2019.

Under managing director John Laurie, The Glenturret, a distillery that was formerly best known as the home of the Famous Grouse Experience, has established itself as a single malt brand in its own right, at home and abroad, and developed an acclaimed fine dining restaurant on site.

And yesterday we reported that the distillery was now taking its first steps into white spirits with the launch of The Aberturret Gin, pitched squarely at the premium end of the market, and moving into luxury accommodation, with the opening of the Aberturret Estate House. The private hideaway on the distillery’s grounds can be hired for exclusive use.

READ MORE: Do Charing Cross plans bring hope for future of Glasgow?

Those developments were unveiled as The Glenturret revealed that Mr Laurie will be stepping down as managing director following a highly successful tenure which has seen the distillery restaurant, Lalique, collect two Michelin stars. The distillery itself has won numerous awards, including the coveted title of Scotch whisky producer of the year from the IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) in 2023.

Mr Laurie will be replaced at The Glenturret on March 25 by Jen Baernreuther, formerly of Pernod Ricard’s Speciality Drinks Group, owner of The Whisky Exchange, who acknowledged it was an exciting time to be taking on the role. “I am thrilled to be joining The Glenturret as managing director at this stage of their journey,” said Ms Baernreuther, who is originally from the Scottish Borders.

“John and the team have done an amazing job of building the business and brand credentials, with Bob [Dalgarno, whisky maker] and Ian [Renwick, distillery manager] leading the charge on producing whiskies being recognised for their exceptional liquid credentials. Coupled with an incredible hospitality offering and new brand home, The Glenturret has a unique position in the industry that I am confident will deliver strong future growth and prosperity.”

The developments at Port Ellen and The Glenturret will certainly be welcomed by whisky enthusiasts both here in Scotland and internationally. They are also likely to provide a further boost to the whisky tourism market, the importance of which was underlined by figures released by Diageo earlier this month. The drinks giant revealed that it welcomed more than one million people to its visitor centres for the first time in 2023, with the major Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction in Edinburgh pulling in nearly a third of the total.

The figures, which were the first to be published since the pandemic, appeared to vindicate the decision by the company to invest so much to upgrade facilities for visitors at its 12 distilleries in recent years.

And of course it is not only Diageo which has been developing distillery visitor experiences within the Scotch whisky industry. Companies large and small are well aware that whisky lovers from all over the world are keen to come to Scotland to see first hand where the spirits they love are brought to life.

These include The GlenAllachie Distillers Company on Speyside, which has been reaping the benefits of its recent move to refurbish a facility that first opened in 2019.

“It is going great,” said majority shareholder Billy Walker of the visitor centre, which is especially popular with tourists from the US and Japan. “It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the range. It also gets people familiar with the brand name and indeed the culture of the company.

“Speyside, almost throughout the year, has visitors coming from all over the world.”

Yet, there is a potential danger lurking, with the Scottish Government poised to bring forward fresh proposals to regulate alcohol advertising and marketing in Scotland.

After the backlash against the original consultation last year, which Scotch whisky distillers feared would severely restrict their ability to market brands and visitor attractions, First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged that the revised recommendations will be based on “targeted engagement”.

No one is going to pretend that there are aspects of Scotland’s relationship with alcohol which do not require improvement.

But it must be hoped that ministers' next attempt to regulate alcohol marketing is not so ham-fisted this time, and instead allows Scotch whisky to continue to flourish and in the responsible way that everyone wants to see.