Bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label with a crystal glass

Exploring the Diageo Archives in Scotland

Explore the Diageo Archives in Menstrie, Scotland and uncover a treasure trove of bar history and secrets of the past.

Authors: Sean Baxter, Drinks Expert; Charlie Ainsbury, World Class Australia

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

A Treasure Trove of Bar History

As the owner of multiple legendary brands and spirits, the Diageo Archive tells the story of the pioneers within the industry.

Located in Menstrie, Clackmannanshire, Scotland, the archive is a beautifully preserved, stunning collection of artefacts that date to the inception of the brands we love.

Bursting with initial sketches of brand logos, drafts of cocktail recipes, receipts, and even antique bottles, it's a hub of the essential history of our industry.

It's the finest collection of bar history with relics related to Johnnie Walker, Gordon's, Smirnoff, Pimms, and even brands lost to time.

Walk through memory lane with drinks expert Sean Baxter and World Class winner Charlie Ainsbury to discover the stories of these famous brands to enhance your bartender knowledge.

Inside the Archive

The Diageo Archive, in the small village of Menstrie, is bursting with exciting curiosities, making it a bar historians' dream.

Filled with documentation, sales records, archival photography, and much more, everything here once served a massive purpose and, in one way or another, played a pivotal role in the growth of all these brands.

Small documents like inventory notes and receipts hold so much weight in the archive, playing a part in the complex fabric of history.

Even discarded ideas are part of the process and worthy of preservation, like the very first sketches of the Johnnie Walker striding man logo. Created by renowned cartoonist Tom Browne, you can find the illustrations in the archive and many other delights that show how special these brands are.

Entering the Liquid Room

The entire archive is a beautiful insight into the past and a remarkable preservation of the history of Diageo brands. Still, one room sits as the crown jewel of the entire display.

Down a hallway flanked by statues of Johnnie Walker, old point-of-sale displays, and sports memorabilia is ‘The Liquid Room’.

Inside lives the flavours of the past: an entire collection of all the special releases, rare bottles, and key dates of every brand, all under one roof.

Shelves tower up the 10-metre-high ceiling, displaying classic Gordon’s bottles, the earliest examples of Smirnoff, the entire range of Pimm's, and much more.

Some bottles in The Liquid Room pre-date the 1870s, showing off brands that were a big part of the early stages of modern spirits, such as the iconic Johnnie Walker.

The room serves as a great example of how brands have innovated and developed over time, and reflecting on this history can help you create a finer appreciation of the drinks you serve daily.

Uncovering Secrets of the Past

As the archive is so vast, you’ll need a keen eye to spot everything or risk keeping exciting secrets hidden.

Even innocuous items, such as a small red address book, hold so much importance in a place like this.

In the pages are 50 recipes, scribbled out by John Walker himself as he started to work out his signature blend all those years ago. In that book sits the progress and evolution of the brand, bound within the pages.

It’s hard to describe how precious this tiny little book was, to what is an enormous brand like Johnnie Walker. It is the very representation of the journey, the evolution, that small brands take to become world renowned.

Sean Baxter

Items like this exist for all the exciting brands under the Diageo umbrella. The effort, grit, and pure will of the founders live on through these items and serve as inspiration to every bar professional that greatness starts with ideas.

Key Takeaways

  • The Diageo Archives are in Scotland and houses relics from all the Diageo Brands.
  • In the archive, you can discover records, recipes, and drafts that give you a detailed history of how each brand has changed and grown.
  • The Liquid Room is the crown jewel of the archive, containing bottles of all the limited edition and notable releases from each brand.
  • Preserving the history of our brands is important for Diageo, and this knowledge is worth knowing to help bartenders appreciate their drinks.

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