The Scotch Whisky Experience

The Scotch Whisky Experience

As a five-star attraction that describes itself as being “on a mission to make the world fall in love with Scotch whisky”, it is vital for the Scotch Whisky Experience (SWE) to delight and inspire customers in equal measure.

Sitting at the top of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Experience first opened to the public in 1988 after 19 individual Scotch whisky companies came together and jointly invested money towards showcasing the delights of the industry to local and international visitors. Nearly 30 years later, the Experience represents 90% of the Scotch whisky industry and welcomes around 400,000  visitors through its door each year, 80% of whom are international.

Due to the interactive nature of the exhibition and its position as a leading Edinburgh attraction for whisky enthusiasts, it’s vital that visitors are given the best experience possible. That’s where Epson’s industry-leading projector technology comes into play.

Thirst for improvement

Tours at SWE include a stunning 180° film with a panorama bird’s eye tour of Scotland’s five whisky-making regions. Visitors are then introduced to the art of blending in a recreated 19th century Blender’s Sample Room Previously, the same video was delivered alternately in two separate rooms from projectors mounted behind the rear wall of the room. Access to the projectors was extremely limited, making it difficult for maintenance to be carried out.

Image quality was also starting to deteriorate, due to a combination of using standard definition and the demanding workloads being put on the projectors.

“From a technical point of view, the systems did not deliver the same level of quality as other areas of The Scotch Whisky Experience and were top of the list for our annual investment programme,” said Douglas Bolton, The Scotch Whisky Experience’s AV consultant.  “We knew that the information imparted could be delivered in a more engaging and theatrical manner to the highest visual standard. We wanted to make sure that we lived up to our visitors ever increasing expectations.

SWE’s operation makes extensive use of technology, and with the new tour development and its experienced in-house technical team recognised that an upgrade was needed in order to refresh the visitor experience and ensure that it was the best that it could be. After a rigorous hardware assessment process, Epson’s EB-L1100U laser projector was selected, with two different lenses chosen to cater for slightly different display needs.

Within the Sense of Scotland room, short-throw ELPLU03 lenses were chosen to cater for large-scale, high-definition images. Five of Epson’s laser projectors were edge-blended onto a curved projection screen 12.5m in width and 2.2m high to ensure the smallest pixel size possible and fully immerse viewers in the image.

In the Blender’s Sample Room, ultra short-throw ELPLX01 lenses were selected for both the main screen projector and a rear projector that casts a life-size video animation of a vault door through which visitors walk after the presentation to enter into The World’s Largest Collection of Scotch Whisky

3LCD image technology, a high 24/7 rating, solid-state illumination, edge-blending, portrait projection, optional lenses and RS232 control all combine in a professional grade projector to provide the best experience possible.

From a visual point of view, the image quality and brightness are greatly improved compared to the previous projectors and now provides immaculate images that visitors can be fully immersed in.

As Epson’s projectors are all ceiling-mounted, access is also significantly easier than it was before, making maintenance safer, less disruptive and more cost-effective to carry out.

It has quickly become apparent that Epson’s range of products offer exactly the right combination of features, performance and durability required for SWE and its visitors, all of which has directly contributed to the Experience’s ongoing success since the upgrade.

After switching to Epson laser projectors, customer satisfaction levels have improved due to the superior image quality, whilst The Scotch Whisky Experience has enjoyed increased flexibility in the types of content it is able to show, as well as better access to the projectors themselves.

“The new presentations have been very well received by paying visitors and the quality of the on-screen images plays a major part in this,” said Douglas Bolton. “In particular, ‘A Sense of Scotland’ could only impress viewers to the extent it does through the use of the best technical solutions available to us. Lower resolution and duller images with lacklustre colours would not have delivered the high-quality results that visitors are now applauding.

“Epson’s projectors are enhancing the visitor experience and contributing to the high-quality experience which in turn encourages great visitor feedback, reviews and recommendations.”

Adding to this the reduction in maintenance costs and the near-elimination of system downtime, which can all too easily spoil the visitors’ experience and result in lost revenue, the win-win situation for The Scotch Whisky Experience and its customers becomes clear.

From those with a budding interest in whisky, from novices to Scotch whisky enthusiasts, this wonder of the whisky world will keep customers coming back for more.