As Sundays go, a visit to the newly opened Johnnie Walker Experience in the heart of Scotland's Capital, Edinburgh, was really up there with one of the best ways ever to spend a Sunday!
I ( Karen) was joined by 'Whisky Women', Annabel , Justine and Karen(#2) All were equally as excited as I was, to experience the tours , explore the building and immerse ourselves into "Whiskyland".
The location is the old House of Fraser building at the west end of Princes Street. Transformed into eight extensive floors of whisky adventures. The familiar (yet nonetheless), impressive Clock on the building's façade- the meeting place of many over the decades, has been maintained in all its glory.
On arrival, a short lift ride took us to our first stop. The 1820 Rooftop Bar. It's funky and modern and although wee stools are not the most comfortable to sit on whilst eating your Eggs Benedict from, the staff were attentive and knowledgeable. However we weren't just there for the brunch and the highballs, as commendable as they were!
We couldn't help lap up the panoramic views. Ceiling to floor windows give you a view of Edinburgh like no other. Highlighting the full length of Princes Street looking out to Leith and the Firth of Forth, together with Edinburgh Castle sitting majestically on its volcanic rock. There's also the Explorers Bothy bar, a beautifully extravagant, golden bar for private tastings and events.
Our tour started with some flavour profiling to determine our preferred tastes and smells. We were then issued with a rather fashionable ribbon wrist tag in the colour of our preferred flavour. I went for Creamy - soft and inviting.
Gathered at the starting point of the all this digital experience we were introduced to Johnnie Walker and then ushered to the theatrical part where various story tellers took us on the 'Journey of the Family'.
It wasn't long before we entered the Cocktail Lab and we took the opportunity to make ourselves a very special highball based on the colour of the glass we were then encouraged to add a garnish to pimp up the whole tasting experience, I'm really not sure Justine's Sun Dried Tomato in her JW double black quite hit the spot! However the choices from the JW portfolio were welcome and I especially liked the 18 year old.
From the lab we moved on to the next stage of our multicoloured journey through whisky and its production, expertly narrated by our guide Alba. We were dazzled by coloured lights and special effects similar to that of a Vegas show stopper.
Our final stop was another bar to delight in yet more flavour experiences. With highballs or Old Fashioneds. The drinks menu was extensive but time was less so. Although we could have sat there and chatted all day, we had to move swiftly on. Of course our exit was via the giftshop where we succumbed to yet more experiential offerings, including an exclusive cask bottle your own JW blend - ours was Autumn and was fruity and punchy. The five star staff attention and the range of easy purchase merchandise saw the floor staff busy and excited to help. At £80 plus £5 to add an engraving on the bottle, it was a lovely addition to the whisky collection, Plus having our name in the book from cask 001 was a bonus.
After 90 minutes plus of hilarity as well as being in awe at what Diageo have achieved with this asset to Edinburgh, I'm sure it will bring many (overseas) visitors to the city and woo them into the world of Scotch Whisky. I can see why they chose Edinburgh. Would it have fared as well if it had been in Johnnie's home town of Kilmarnock?, I don't know.
As impressive as this is, nothing beats getting out into the Scottish countryside and visiting a real life working distillery, where history is still there to see and generations of whisky makers tell the story rather than actors.
If you are visiting The Johnnie Walker Experience for yourself why not let us know what you think?
You can purchase Angels' Share Glass at selected Diageo Distilleries
Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Blair Atholl, Clynelish