Glenturret Distillery sits just outside of the Perthshire town of Crieff. It first had a distillation licence granted in 1775, which makes it the oldest working distillery in Scotland, however anecdotal evidence suggests that illegal distillation has taken place there since at least 1717.
Glenturret produces only 180,000 litres of spirit per year. The overwhelming majority of all production goes into the Famous Grouse blend. The spirit that does find itself bottled as Glenturret isn’t really exported, available in supermarkets or readily available at many retailers. More than most other brands it is mainly sold though the distillery shop itself.
For six months of the year the distillery produces an unpeated spirit, the other six months it produces a lightly peated (approx 8ppm) spirit that is used for a combination of blending, The Famous Grouse Smoky Black expression and in Glenturrets own Peated release.
Only when you head into the still house do you realise the size of the operation and the small scale of the entire operation. I am told that Edradour Distillery (oft regarded as Scotlands smallest distillery) is smaller in terms of size but has a larger production capacity than Glenturret.
Indeed the distillery potentially has the only hand operated mash tun in Scotland. The mash tun is 1.5 meters deep and has a capacity of only 2000 litres.
The spirit cut is controlled by the stillmen who keep careful watch on the thermometer and hydrometer within the spirt safe during the distillation process. Not a single computer in sight here.
The spirit is piped across the road to the filling store where it is filled into a mixture of Sherry Butts and Ex-Bourbon barrels (from Heaven Hill and Jim Beam) before being transferred to one of the 6 on-site warehouses.
Warehouse 9 contains a small but fascinating tasting room, complete with a centrepeice of a granite fountain with water straight from the distillery water source, Loch Turret.
Inside I get the chance to sample a variety of Glenturret expressions starting with the 10 year old and working our way up to the 30 year old, with a stop in between for the distillery exclusive, Turrets Cask, which is a single cask expression matured in a first fill American Oak sherry cask which was filled in March 2004.
Ordinarily this would be the end of the tour but I am lucky enough to be on the Blending Experience Tour which allows not only for a tour of the distillery and a warehouse tasting but also the chance to test my skills in the blending room.
After working my way through a nosing challenge and sensory assessment it was time to try to create my own personal blend.
I must admit to really enjoying my time in the
play blending room, a really interesting way to learn about the structure and balance of blended whisky, as well as discovering a new found respect for master blenders.
And with that my time was up. A very pleasant way to spend a few hours, a great tour with a little for everyone. I’d also very much recommend coffee and cake at the cafe afterwards.
If you do ever visit and find yourself on a tour with Charlie then you will be in safe hands. Charlie was a wonderful guide and host, even to the point of convincingly pretending to like my blending efforts…
Many thanks to The Famous Grouse Experience for their hospitality.
More information on the Distillery and their range of tours (including the Blending Experience) can be found here.
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