*press visit to pre-launch for Johnnie Walker Princes Street
After such a long time of waiting Johnnie Walker Princes Street will finally open its doors tomorrow on Monday 6th September!
We had the pleasure of being shown around the building to see the rooms as well as get a preview of some of the experiences they’ll be offering. But don’t worry I won’t spoil it all – as I think a big part of the experience is seeing it all for yourself and allowing some of the surprises that awaits.
In the Whisky Explorer section you’ll find single malts from the Diageo distilleries, including distillery exclusives and some whiskies that might be a bit trickier to find elsewhere.
This is also one of the few places where you’ll find Johnnie Blonde – but if you ask me the whisky to go for (as far as of the ones I’ve tried) is the Lowlands Blend. This whisky is part of their previously travel retail exclusive whiskies and the regional quartet consists of a Lowlands Blend as well as a Highland, Speyside and Islay Blended Malt. I really enjoyed the Lowlands because it tasted like sweet and dessert-y grain whisky with a bit of apple. But if you don’t know which one is for you, the shop also offered tasters.
The whisky that I’m the most curious about is the shop exclusive seasonal blend. At the moment it’s an autumn blend which sounds really intriguing.
There’s also plenty of merchandise so if you’re looking for branded cocktail shakers, rain jackets or hats – this is the place for you.
The Whisky Makers Cellar
The Whisky Makers cellar isn’t just an intriguing name for a tasting room – there is also casks from various distilleries laying to rest in the corners. The plan is to eventually, in a year or so, have whiskies exclusive to the venue.
If you are looking to taste whisky straight from a cask, this experience might be for you.
As we were exploring the entire building in just a few hours, we didn’t do the whole tasting experience that will be offered here. Instead we had the wonderful opportunity to meet three of the Johnnie Walker blenders and taste two of their creations.
In this room you will find whisky on tap – which may sound a lot less elegant than it actually is. In fact these golden square-shaped (sound familiar?) hold some lovely whiskies from various distilleries where the blenders can pick and choose to create exclusive blends.
We tried a more fresh fruits forward creation alongside a little bit of a more robust blend and I’d say the former was my personal favourite.
First of all I just want to say that it’s a bit tricky for me to be able to say exactly how the Journey of Flavour tour is designed since our experience weaved in various parts of the building in to each other but I will try my best to go through some of the main aspects of the tour.
This tour is 1.5h and includes 3 personalised drinks for £25.
To start there’s a flavour quiz which assigned you a colour and a category. I ended up being tropical, which was the yellow wrist band and this decided some of the drinks served during the tour. It’s all an easy way to personalise the flavour you are most likely to enjoy. The other categories are spicy, creamy, fruity, fresh and smoked.
The tour is introduced by your tour guide who will do a presentation in front of a big screen which gives you a feel of the whole experience.
Next up you learn more about the history of Johnnie Walker, which was a brilliant performance by an actor who created a dramatic and intriguing story that was also easy to take in and understand. I think it’s really important to understand how important the blended whisky history has been for the whole whisky industry and even if you are someone who enjoys primarily single malts, it can definitely be worth knowing at least a bit of history of the blends.
And I’ll admit that I even cried a little bit because I got emotional.
Along the way you can also spot some of my favourite things: the old advertisements!
Next up is highballs. Depending on which wrist band you have – you pick a glass with the same colour and simply put it in the machines along the room and you get a perfect serve!
These “highball-on-tap” machines are great since they allow an easy serve, as well as limiting the use of glass bottles that would be needed – making it a more sustainable option.
Here below you can see my highball, with the yellow base, and you got to decorate with the topping which matched your highball yourself. It was candied pineapple to go with my tropical highball.
The following rooms focused on the four corners of Scotland that make up Johnnie Walker, the production process and also on some of the whiskies you’ll find in the building. The visual light effects and projections make the rooms come alive and if you’ve been to Glenkinchie you can definitely see similar design aspects.
Time for another tasting. This time an old fashioned – or another highball if you prefer. I haven’t really seen this many variation of an old fashioned in the same place before so this was a fun inclusion. And can definitely recommend the tropical old fashioned which has a hint of banana.
You also have the option of choosing a dram as one of your options if you prefer.
Remember to drink water as well!
One of the best things about Edinburgh is the view. It’s such a stunning city and it’s such a treat to be able to get another perspective from the rooftop bar at Johnnie Walker Princes Street. I’ll need to come back to see it in daylight as it was already dark when we got there – both of which has their own charm of course.
We also go to try this delicious set of canapés. I was pretty sure the oyster would be my favourite when I tried it, but it actually ended up being the beetroot one! The 1820’s rooftop bar will be offering locally-sourced cuisine so I will have to come back and see what more they’ll have to offer.
I’ve already mentioned that I’ll have to come back, not just to try more of the food and drinks that I’m curious about – but also because this first visit was a bit overwhelming since it’s so much to see – in a good way of course!