By Sean McGauran
Published: 28th June 2018

Business of the Month: Diageo

Start or end your NC500 journey with a tour and tasting around the famous Glen Ord Distillery. As you explore the east coast, discover the history behind the liquid at Clynelish Distillery.

We caught up with Katie, the visitor centre marketing manager for Diageo to find out more.

1. Hello Katie! Can you tell us a little about yourself, and what you do?

I’m Katie Macrae and I have been Diageo’s Visitor Centre Marketing Manager for 2 years based at Teaninich Distillery in Ross-shire. I grew up in Orkney working in my summer holidays as a tour guide for the family business, Skaill House, and ever since I’ve had a passion for Scottish Tourism.

I have the overall responsibility in leading the marketing strategy for Diageo’s 12 Distillery Visitor Centres, developing partnership promotions and campaigns. I’m passionate about the role the distilleries play in Scottish Tourism to provide great visitor experiences all year round.

I also manage Diageo’s business development with the travel trade industry, focusing on the luxury market and opening up to new markets. I’m very excited about taking the Distillery Visitor Centres to the forefront of Scottish Tourism with the upcoming developments.

2. The north Highlands boast an array of distilleries, each with their own distinct character and flavour. We spoke to Jacqueline from Clynelish Distillery (Brand and Home Manager) last year…but what makes Glen Ord Distillery and Clynelish Distillery stand out from the others?

Both Glen Ord and Clynelish have their own unique points: Glen Ord is one of the only distilleries in Scotland who offer a look into their fully-working Maltings on site which gives visitors a glimpse into the entire whisky-making process from grain to glass; for Clynelish I would say their most unique point is their whisky with an unusual, unique waxy character which is incomparable to any other malt I have tried before.Diageo Glen Ord Distillery

3. Can you tell our readers about the NC500 passport and engraved North Coast 500 whisky glass?

The NC500 passport is a great way to find out about, not only the main attractions of the NC500, but also the hidden gems along the route. Along with the passport to take away with you as a souvenir of your trip there is the limited edition North Coast 500 whisky glass which can only be collected at Glen Ord Distillery at the end of your trip once you have collected your stamps along the way.

4. Do you have any recommendations for sights and activities when visiting the distilleries?

There are so many great opportunities for sightseeing and activities around the distilleries like Dunrobin Castle, with its ties to Clynelish Distillery, and Castle of Mey. If castles and historic sites aren’t for you there’s always an opportunity to get active at Royal Dornoch Golf Course or Royal Tain Gold Course as well.

5. You have been working with the NC500 from our first official season- what is the biggest change you have witnessed since the launch of the NC500?

The biggest change I have seen is the increase in visitor numbers and an obviously extended summer season now. This is great news for all businesses in the area and we are delighted to be able to create even more whisky lovers all over the world.

6. Do you have any tips for other businesses on the route on how to best utilise the NC500?

Now that the NC500 is growing in popularity, more and more businesses are trying to pull the visitors from it to other areas. By being a part of the NC500 you have the opportunity to grow your business while being a part of a now iconic Scottish adventure.

7. And …what is your favourite dram from each distillery?

Clynelish Distillery-Only bottling is a lovely dram and is only available at Clynelish Distillery. For Glen Ord I would have to say they Singleton of Glen Ord Artisan which is a beautiful, rich single malt whisky.

8. And lastly, we promise! How much of the beautiful NC500 have you explored? Do you have any hidden gems you would like to share with us?

I am delighted to say I have explored all of the NC500 and there are so many fantastic locations on the journey, but one of my favourite hidden gems would be the Whaligoe Steps with its crystal clear waters, and beautiful walk down the steps seeing the birds nesting on the cliffs. The harbour at the bottom of the steps is a beautifully dramatic location, but make sure you are prepared for the walk back up the steps.

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