Tucked away in a beautiful green valley, surrounded by nothing but the sounds of nature over the gentle noises of a distillery in full production mode, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Glenturret Distillery was a hard-to-reach place, accessible only to a few brave souls willing to navigate the winding Scottish roads. In fact, The Glenturret Distillery is just over an hour from Edinburgh by car, just outside the picturesque village of Crieff in Perthshire.
A Highland distillery, The Glenturret produces its own single malt Scotch whisky bottled under the Glenturret brand.
The Glenturret is a fascinating distillery to visit in Scotland, particularly at this crucial point in its ever-evolving history: the distillery was recently acquired by joint venture led by The Lalique group, a French luxury lifestyle company with big plans for this beautiful Highland single malt. The Glenturret distillery claims to be among the oldest in Scotland, with production first dating back to the 1700s as an illicit distillery. In the early 1980s it was only the second distillery in Scotland to open up a visitor centre; pre-empting the boom of whisky tourism that we’re enjoying now.
Upon arrival, visitors are taken through to the milling area to see the ubiquitous Porteous Mill, and to nose the different types of malt used by the distillery. Take a look around you for some fascinating photos of the distillery workers back in the day. Water is taken by pipeline from Loch Turret, around 5 miles upriver near to the popular walking spot of Ben Chonzie.
The distillery has an open mashtun – a rarity these days (though you can also currently find one at Deanston distillery) – and production of the wort is on a relatively small scale compared to many other distilleries. With 8 washbacks and two stills (one wash still, one spirit still), the distillery has a production output of about 170,000 litres per annum, however they are planning to up production in the future.
Towards the end of the tour visitors are led into a room that features seasoned casks of each of the finishes that the Glenturret uses to mature its spirit in – Bourbon, American Oak Sherry and European Oak Sherry. You’re given the chance to nose and compare the different aromas from each cask to give an understanding of what flavours will be imparted into the whisky, with helpful nosing notes written for each one. This isn’t something I’d seen before on other distillery tours, and is an incredibly useful way to pick out the aromas in the whisky when you do the tasting in the bar later on.
The Glenturret also offers a photography-centric tour (also known as the ‘Apertour’) three times a week: photography at many distilleries is not permitted due to health and safety laws, but these tours are specially monitored by a guide and are a great chance to get those precious Instagram shots if you’re a pics-or-it-didn’t-happen kind of person. Warning – they don’t allow tripods or bulky equipment on the tour, so be sure to just bring your phone or handheld camera with you.
A lovely thing about a tour at the Glenturret is its relaxed atmosphere and incredibly friendly team, who are always happy to answer the weird and wonderful questions asked by the visitors who come from all over the world for a whisky tour. So relaxed in fact, that when Turret, one of the distillery’s resident cats popped into the stillhouse for a wander around and to get fed, nobody batted an eyelid. Turret’s brother Glen (see what they did there?) was to be found dozing in the cask room later on in the tour. The cats are invaluable for their mousing capabilities, and have the run of the distillery, even with their own ready-made ramp to go in and out of the stillhouse when it’s closed: the stillhouse is the warmest place on the site, and is where the cats can often be found in the colder months and during whisky production.
How to get there
The easiest way to reach the Glenturret distillery is by car, taking the route from Edinburgh to Crieff and then following the well-placed signage to the distillery itself. There is plenty of space to park.
If you’re driving from the north, you’ll get chance to see the distillery’s bonded warehouses nestled on the right-hand side as you approach the distillery.
Other options of getting to the Glenturret from Edinburgh: catch a train to Perth (find times via the Scotrail website), and then catch a number 15 bus to Crieff from the bus station adjacent to the train station in Perth. The distillery itself is around half an hour’s walk from the centre of Crieff, or about 5-10 minutes in a taxi.
Costs of tours and type
A tour at the Glenturret lasts around 1 hour, and covers the key production areas of the distillery, plus a chance to nose and taste two whiskies from the range.
A standard tour costs £10, and driver’s drams are available.
What are driver’s drams?
As many of the distilleries in Scotland are difficult to get to without a car, most tours will offer visitors the option to take a driver’s dram – a small bottle containing the whiskies that were featured on the tour, for the designated driver to try when they get home. Drinking and driving in Scotland is illegal and the legal limits are lower than in the rest of the UK or abroad. If you or anyone from your group are planning to be the driver for the tour, make sure you’re aware of what the limits are, and take advantage of those driver’s drams!
The distillery also offers more bespoke tours, including a 90-minute Warehouse tour which features a visit to the bonded warehouses, and a blending experience tour which lasts 2.5 hours.
Find out more about visiting the Glenturret Distillery here, including up to date information on tour types, timings and prices
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Find out more about exploring the Highlands of Scotland here
Find out more about exploring the distilleries of Scotland (including how to get to distilleries using public transport) here