When the announcement came in late 2019 that Silvio Denz, owner of Châteaux Faugères in St-Émilion and Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Sauternes, partnered with Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss via the Lalique Group to purchase The Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, it was clear that something very special was about to take place.
As the world’s oldest trading distillery – it is now known that earliest records go back to 1763 – The Glenturret had been in the hands of the Edrington Group for over 30 years, and the £31m deal is reported to have included more than one million litres of maturing Scotch whisky at different strengths and in different casks.
In the almost two years since then, a further £6.5m has been invested in a luxurious refurbishment with the same again expected for future developments that will include a £1m modernisation of the all-important mash tun which will reduce their carbon footprint as they move forward with their planned increase in production from 170,000 litres annually to 500,000.
John Laurie, Managing Director, commented, “To achieve what we have in just 18 months would be impressive by anyone’s standards, but to do it under the pressures of lockdown was no mean feat. I think that speaks volumes to the commitment and determination of our owners, and the passion and knowledge of our team.
“We’ve wasted no time in combining the best of the old with the excitement of the new but I should emphasise fully that The Glenturret will retain the tradition of being a small, hand-operated distillery focused on niche production and high-end quality.
“Strategically, we think of ourselves as more than just a whisky distillery.”
“Over the years, single malt bottlings of Glenturret have been rare, which is why we are so proud to have launched a new range, overseen by renowned industry legend, Bob Dalgarno, who is recognised as one of the finest whisky-makers in the world.
“The stocks we have will allow for the blending of high-end single malts with ages ranging from 10 to 40 years, including various special editions. Our aim is to reach 500,000 litres – any more would require too many extensions and would change the production process entirely.”
What has changed though is the Glenturret brand itself. In 2020, a new identity was launched, including a stunning bottle designed by Marc Larminaux, Artistic and Creative Director at Lalique. Future releases of limited edition Glenturret single malts, housed in Lalique crystal decanters, are also part of the plans.
Interestingly, the multimillion-pound investment has had no impact on the cost of entry. It remains at £13 for an adult, with Laurie keen to stress that while the Whisky Tour, restaurant, café and shop have evolved, the focus is very much on ‘accessible luxury’.
“Tourists and locals alike will find an enhanced visitor experience, at the same entry price. We want to drive tourism in a sustainable way, working with the local communities to grow the opportunities on offer and to bring added benefits to the area.
“Lalique is the respectful custodian of this beautiful and special distillery. We are working with local suppliers more than in the past, which allows us to get back to our roots. It’s uplifting for the area and for the town of Crieff.
“Strategically, we think of ourselves as more than just a whisky distillery. The launch of The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant earlier this year has positioned us alongside the best of the UK’s fine-dining establishments, and we are the only destination in Scotland to play home to a stand-alone Lalique Boutique. Combine this with the expertise of our people, the world-class team we have built, and you will begin to understand the truly unique offer we have created.”
Sustainable Whisky Production
In an issue dedicated to sustainability, featuring a whisky distillery as our centrepiece was always going to be a bold move. However, John and the team are working hard to ensure The Glenturret’s green credentials are as honourable as their approach to their craft.
A £1m investment is planned in the mash tun, the heart of the operation where the barley is washed. Glenturret has always prided itself on traditional hand-mashing which requires the mash tun to remain at the top.
“The entire industry is looking at the production methods required to produce whisky and the journey to 2030 and carbon neutral is one we need to take together. For example, there is exciting research going on that is looking to Barley Draft as a biofuel. At the moment, we give it away to local farmers as feed for cattle.
“Here at Glenturret, we’re currently looking at ways to retain the authenticity of what we do, while closing the top of the mash tun. We could recover around 250KW of heat each year by making the switch, as well as reducing water and gas – but we need to do this whilst ensuring we maintain the ethos of by hand and by heart.
“As well as this, we’re on track to eliminate all single-use plastic by 2022, all cardboard used will be sustainable, and a new chef’s garden complete with beehives will add another layer of provenance to a menu that is already dictated by seasonal produce and foraged ingredients.”
The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant & Bar
In what is undoubtedly the most significant of all changes made to date, a spectacular new dining experience in the shape of The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant was launched in summer 2021. The first of its kind in Scotland, this fine-dining destination is home to an intimate dinner-only restaurant, the breathtaking Lalique Bar, Afternoon Tea Salon and Vinoteque.
Critically acclaimed Michelin Star chef, Mark Donald, previously of the Balmoral, sits at the helm and the front of house team is no less impressive with sommelier Julien Beltzung from the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong guaranteeing world-class gastronomy and hospitality.
“It’s more than just a luxury surrounding and magical atmosphere. The food tells you a story about where you are, with wild garlic and sweet cicely from around the area, and locally sourced ingredients inspiring the menus.
“Mark has created a cosmopolitan, multi-course tasting menu, which is complemented by a 420-bin wine list and it seems fitting that we can now provide visitors with an elevated dining experience that reflects the skill, heritage and Scottish heart that goes into producing our whisky.
“It took a lot of courage to do it – we are the only fine-dining experience within a whisky distillery – but it has paid off. We’re full every night of the week and people now need to give at least a week’s notice to secure a table.”
The design of the restaurant was overseen by Green & Mingarelli, the interiors duo who designed two of Lalique’s other hospitality establishments. Taking inspiration from the land and its history, the highlight has to be the mesmerising £70k Lalique chandeliers which dominate the space.
The jewel in the crown though, will be the Lalique Whisky Bar, a beautifully crafted six meter-long bar housing the finest whiskies in Scotland from both inside and outside the Glenturret archive.
“We’re looking at how to engage people in the art of whisky drinking and tasting. We need to find a way to help people to communicate better when discussing whisky in the same way we have for wine. The colour, the mouth feel, the palate.
“In doing this, we can start to educate people on how to pair their favourite whisky with food. Whisky with chocolate or fudge is a fantastic combination as it leans into the sweetness, but it also goes well with cheese and charcuterie.
“We offer whisky tastings, of course, and have a range of six Whisky Tasting Flights in the Lalique Bar giving people the opportunity to delve deep into The Glenturret expressions as well as allowing rare access to our ‘new make’ spirit and historic bottlings. And for those who think whisky may not be for them, the Glenfizz – one of a range of specially crafted cocktails – is certain to make you think twice.”
To learn more about the distillery and its history, to book a tour or a table, or to join the Glenturret Guild, visit: