The Glenturret is Scotland’s oldest working distillery – the earliest record of it is from 1763. The recent change of ownership really has improved the distillery’s releases and helped to put The Glenturret back on the whisky map. It is finally getting the recognition it deserves rather than being in the shadow of Famous Grouse, which used to be made at the distillery.
The Glenturret Distillery
Glenturret is located in the ‘Hosh’, Crieff, surrounded by the beautiful Perthshire countryside. The distillery’s water source is right in their backyard as the River Turret flows alongside the premises.
As mentioned above, the Glenturret distillery used to be better known for Famous Grouse rather than the Glenturret single malt releases. Like many distilleries, it has had several owners over the years, but when in 2019 the distillery was purchased by a joint venture led by the Lalique Group, a French luxury lifestyle company, they decided to invest in quality over quantity and create an elegant single malt. They have also spent a lot of money on making the distillery more sustainable.
Of course, there were a few disappointed locals who were used to getting their Famous Grouse locally, but I truly believe it was the right decision to bring the historic single malt back into the limelight. Their 2022 releases are absolutely divine.
Other improvements have been their bottle design, upgraded tasting rooms and the Michelin star restaurant. The Lalique Group focuses a lot on glassware, hence the stunning new bottle, the magnificent lighting fixtures at the distillery and their special glassware. As you probably know, I am a bit obsessed about glassware, so this was heaven for me. And it was a joy to take pictures at the visitor centre as the light is great for photography. I know it may not be the first thing people notice at a distillery, but for someone who takes a lot of photos (and selfies), the light really improves the images.
The Glenturret was named the Icons of Whisky 2022 Distiller of the Year, and no wonder. The investment has really paid off.
Glenturret 2022 releases
The Glenturret has released its core collection for 2022: five signature whiskies that embody the distiller’s ethos of small-batch, hand-crafted whiskies, with an exciting new addition of a 7-Year-Old. And there’s also a 25-Year-Old and 30-Year-Old.
The Glenturret Triple Wood is a sweet (tropical sweetness and ripe orchard fruits) and spicy yet soft whisky, matured in American and European oak sherry-seasoned casks alongside ex-Bourbon barrels. Last year’s edition won several gold medals, although personally I preferred the latest release.
The distillery’s whiskies will have subtle changes year on year as it is all based on the stock available. The key is that they are making the best whiskies possible from the casks they have at the time. Also, the alcohol volume may change slightly depending on what works best for that release. It is interesting what even a 1% alteration in ABV can do to a whisky. I find all this quite exciting as it makes you want to try the whiskies year after year to compare them, adding an element of surprise.
The scale of the distillery is much smaller than I anticipated. They produce a quarter of a million litres a year, which would explain the limited stock. And of course, before the change in ownership, most of the stock was used for the Famous Grouse.
Their latest 12-Year-Old (46% ABV) release was created using fewer than 60 casks. They used both American oak Hogshead and European oak.
The aromas on this 12yo really evolve with air. I was getting notes of rum-soaked raisins, burnt sugar, red fruits and baking spices. With air, the nose becomes even sweeter, with aromas of toffee. On the palate, the baking spices come through strongly with ginger and cinnamon, like in an apple pie. There is a certain dryness on the palate, reminiscent of charred oak and biscuits. An easy sipping dram.
The 15-Year-Old is bottled at 53%. It’s also made using both American and European oak but this one has a high percentage of European. It’s a stunning colour. On the nose I was getting red fruits in a fruit compote, fruit loaf, maraschino cherries and melted dark chocolate. Due to its ABV, this definitely needed a bit more time in the glass. Like the previous dram, this one also becomes sweeter over time.
The 15yo had a bit more texture to it, a bit richer and oilier than the 12-Year-Old. Notes of black pepper, wood, nuts, sugar-glazed pastries, brown sugar and something salty in there too – altogether a nice and complex whisky. Make sure to give it some time in the glass to enhance the flavours.
The new addition to the line-up is their 7-Year-Old Peat Smoked, 44% ABV. This is aged in American oak sherry-seasoned casks. The peat is nice and gentle, and there’s a similar fruity sweetness as in most of Glenturret’s releases, with nuttiness and wood smoke. Personally, I preferred the 10yo between the peated releases, but this one was also very easy sipping. Great for people only just dabbling into the peat category.
The 10-Year-Old Peat Smoked, 50% ABV, is matured in both first-fill and second-fill European and American oak casks. You can expect aromas of BBQ ribs in a sticky sauce, roasted pineapple, almost like roasted agave. A very nice nose and not heavy on the peat, with more like a fireplace in a cabin feel to it.
The palate is slightly citrusy, like a pineapple that’s not quite ripe yet. I was also getting notes of roasted chicken fat that’s been cooked with lemon and herbs. There’s also something fresh on the palate like mint and salty seaweed. The finish is ashy and fishy, reminiscent of smoked salted haddock or mackerel.
For whisky tasting tips, see my previous article ‘How to Taste Whisky’.
Michelin Star restaurant
The Glenturret Lalique restaurant and bar offer an extensive list of wines (around 420) and whiskies (over 300). The staff are very knowledgeable and always happy to help. I had the pleasure of sampling pretty much everything from the lunch menu and I can say the food was divine and I am already dreaming of going back.
We had oysters, olives, cured meats, fresh bread, pickles, salted nuts and Padron peppers to start with, followed by a fish main with organic leaf salad and chips. The dessert was also delicious and beautifully presented. We loved it all except the chips, funnily enough. The wine was excellent and the highball refreshing.
The restaurant has earned its Michelin star from the evening tasting menu, which consists of a whopping 17 courses! The Lalique restaurant is the only whisky distillery in the world to be awarded a Michelin star. The 30-cover restaurant is headed up by Head Chef Mark Donald, who joined from Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh.
The distillery caters for everyone. You don’t actually have to eat a proper sit-down meal to enjoy the bar area, you can just opt for a quick sandwich or some bar snacks to accompany the whisky.
You can’t talk about Glenturret and not mention the cats! Towser the Mouser was probably the most famous distillery cat ever. She is known for her record-breaking mouse-catching skills, making it to the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s best mouser with 28,899 mice. She lived her whole life at the distillery and died at the age of 24. Apparently, she was the unfriendliest cat ever. A mouser with an attitude.
The distillery is now home to two cats, Glen and Turret, who spend their days walking around the distillery grounds posing for many photos and enjoying the warmth of the still room.
I really enjoyed my visit to the distillery. It was much smaller than I was expecting, but I think that made the experience feel more personal. The updated visitor centre and restaurant are great and definitely worth a visit. It is only an hour’s drive from Glasgow and an hour and a half from Edinburgh.
I had never tried Glenturret whiskies, and they really were beautiful. The Triple Wood is an easy sipper with fruity notes, the 15-Year-Old is a rich and complex dram, and the peated took me on a journey of flavours. I also have to give a special mention to Alex. He was a great host with plenty of information to share.
If you would like to hear more about the visit, you can listen to the Whisky Sisters podcast episode 26.
Have you tried Glenturret whiskies? What did you think?
Disclaimer: This article was not sponsored by The Glenturret Distillery, but they did invite me for a visit and covered the cost of the meal, tastings and the transfer. Some of the links used are affiliate links. If you buy through the links, I may receive a commission for the sale. This has no effect on the price for you.