A 200-year link between the town and the famous whisky brand – now owned by the multi-national company Diageo – came to a end yesterday.
More than 700 jobs have been lost to Kilmarnock – a move that has had a knock-on effect throughout the Ayrshire town.
And as the final bottle of the world famous whisky rolled off the bottling line, more than 200 redundant staff consoled each other at the factory gates which bear the instantly recognisable 'Striding Man' logo.
The feeling in the town was summed up by Janice Deane, for 12 years a quality assessor at the plant, who worked her last shift yesterday.
She said: "I'm still astonished that Diageo could go ahead with something like this.
"This place, Kilmarnock, is Johnnie Walker. They've ripped the heart out the town.
"It was a 700-strong family in there and it's gone now."
In 2009, after Diageo announced it was closing the plant, 20,000 people marched through Kilmarnock to demand the firm stay.
But the campaign failed, and the feeling yesterday was one of incredible sadness.
Catherine Callaghan worked her final shift after 25 years of service.
Through tears, she said: "I'm absolutely devastated. It's like a death in the family.
"For the past two years it has been hard going, because we've been waiting for this day."
Jenny Kelly had nearly 40 years of service and her three sisters, mother, aunt, uncle and cousin all worked there.
She said: "I took redundancy two years ago. Diageo walked away from the town, so I walked away from them.
"It's very emotional. Kilmarnock will be like a ghost town now."
Esther McKnight worked at the plant for 34 years.
"Johnnie Walker was a great company to work for," she said. "But when Diageo came in it all changed, every- thing was about profit."
Esther and Jenny, and a large group of former colleagues, wrote a song, "The Bottle Lament" and sang it en masse as the last shift left the building.
Pier Sinforiani, who runs a newsagent and off licence a few hundred yards away from the plant, said: "Taking Johnnie Walker out of Kilmarnock is like taking Jack Daniels out of Tennessee.
"Diageo owns Johnnie Walker because they bought the name, but really Johnnie Walker belonged to the people of Kilmarnock, at least until today."
Of the 707 people affected by the closure, 431 accepted redundancy packages. New roles at other Diageo sites in Scotland were found for 194 staff while 82 who wanted to stay were sacked when no new jobs could be found within the company.
The 82 staff who left yesterday were presented with a special edition bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label – the last run of whisky to be bottled at the plant
The very last bottle from the run will be given to Kilmarnock's Dick Institute to be put on permanent display.
Pauline Rooney, site director at the Hill Street plant, said: "The decision to close Kilmarnock was not taken lightly, but it was the right decision for the long-term future sustainability of the business in Scotland."
Bryan Donaghey, Diageo's Scottish boss, added: "No one in the company underestimates what a difficult time this has been for our people in Kilmarnock, but they have handled the closure of the plant with dignity."
East Ayrshire Council was taken by complete surprise when Diageo announced it was shutting the plant.
Job cuts were thought to be in the pipeline, but not for a second did anyone believe Diageo would sever the brand's 200-year association with the town.
A council spokeswoman said: "This is a sad day for the people of Kilmarnock, and indeed East Ayrshire.
"By the end of this week 506 local folk, who were previously employed by Diageo in Kilmarnock, will no longer have a job to go to in their home town."
Diageo has gifted a third of the land at Hill Street to the council, which will use it as the site for a new Kilmarnock College.
It has not yet been decided what will become of the remaining land.
Johnnie Walker will still bear the name of Kilmarnock on its labels, maintaining at least some historical link to the town.
But that will be scant consolation to the people of Kilmarnock, who yesterday saw their once thriving home town brought to its knees.