A MULTI-MILLION-POUND bid to transform the visitor experience at an East Lothian whisky distillery has been unveiled.

Glenkinchie Distillery, near Pencaitland, opened its doors to members of the public this week to give them the first look at the plans.

It is one of a number of Diageo distilleries that will see major work undertaken as part the company’s £150m investment in its whisky visitor attractions across Scotland.

A key aspect of the scheme is to transform the approach to the distillery by creating a new garden space, with a new enhanced visitor experience inside the historic warehouse buildings at the distillery.

Ramsay Borthwick, Glenkinchie manager, said: “Glenkinchie is a classic lowland distillery that has been at the heart of the community and the county of East Lothian since it was founded in 1825 and as we develop these exciting plans for the future we want to engage our neighbours as much as possible.

“It was great to have so many local residents and community representatives taking an interest in our plans and we will continue to update them as we progress our plans.”

As part of the plan, Glenkinchie would be thematically linked to a new global visitor attraction in Edinburgh for Johnnie Walker.

Glenkinchie is a key part of the Johnnie Walker blending portfolio, providing the light, floral, lowland style of single malt whisky that goes into Johnnie Walker blends.

The distillery has a long history of association with Johnnie Walker, with stock books from 1894 listing Glenkinchie among the malts going into the Walker blending inventory.

Local residents and community representatives attended the event to see overviews of the work being planned for the distillery.

The planning application for the distillery is expected to be submitted to East Lothian Council in the next four to six weeks.

If the application is successful, work could begin early next year and be finished the following year.

Whisky from Diageo’s distilleries all over Scotland contribute to Johnnie Walker, but four distilleries – Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish – will be linked directly to the Johnnie Walker venue in Edinburgh, representing the ‘four corners of Scotland’ and the regional flavour variations crucial to the art of whisky blending.

Together these sites will create a Johnnie Walker tour of Scotland, encouraging visitors to Edinburgh to explore more of the country.

East Lothian Provost John McMillan was one of those who visited the exhibition.

He said: “It is ambitious and aspirational. I have taken visitors there over the years and think it is one of the best tours of any whisky distillery across Scotland.

“It is entertaining, informative and it is really, really good.”

Last year, visitor numbers to the distillery reached their highest ever level, falling just short of 45,000.

Numbers have more than doubled since 2009. In that year, 20,495 people visited the distillery, with Diageo pleased to report the figure was 44,978 for 2017.