There has been another distillery by the name of Glenturret in the
area (constructed in 1826), but that was closed again within just a few
decades - and had nothing to do with the current one.
The 'brand name' Glenturret was sold to Hosh distillery in 1875.
However, that distillery was also closed in 1921. All of the production
equipment was removed and until the late 1950's the remaining
buildings were only used as a warehouse for storage of whisky.
So, the distillery that bought the brand name went silent too...
It wasn't until 1957 that James Fairlie bought the old distillery buildings
and re-equipped them with brand new equipment. That means that the
historic link with the old distillery was in name only; the stills, washbacks
and mashtuns shape the character of a whisky - buildings don't. The
distillery I'd like to call 'Glenturret Mark III' went into operation in 1959.
That's a little ironic, because that makes Glenturret one of Scotland's youngest distilleries - not one of the oldest.
Well, we can always trust the PR people of Edrington to boldly explore the conventional borders
between the truth and blatant lies - and sometimes happily skip across those boders when it
suits them. They also claimed that Macallan only used sherry casks when they hadn't for decades.
But then again Glenturret isn't the only malt whisky distillery in Scotland making dubious claims
about its heritage; Balblair, Bowmore , Oban and Littlemill also brag about having their roots in the
18th century. In some cases they actually have a solid claim with real ties to the past, but as far as
I know Glenfarclas is one of the few distilleries where descendants of the founders of the distillery
are actually still involved in making the whisky.
Glenturret in the Midlands claims to be Scotland's oldest whisky distillery.
In fact, they have boldly put that claim on their distillery buildings. Hmmm...
That's a little odd - given the fact that those buildings were not refurbished
before the late 1950's - and I'm pretty sure distillation of whisky had been
invented at least three centuries earlier.
So, let's focus on the facts about Glenturret's more recent history, shall we?
For a few decades after James Fairlie first started up the new stills in 1959, not much seems
to have happened at Glenturret. The French drinks conglomerate Remy Cointreau bought
the whisky distillery in 1981 - reminding us that 'foreign' investment in the Scotch whisky
industry isn't something that has emerged in recent years. The new owners expanded the
distillery with a visitor centre in the same year.
Remy Martin didn't hang on to Glenturret for very long; in 1990 Highland Distillers bought
the distillery. They were themselves bought by a partnership of two new owners; Edrington
Group (70%) and William Grant & Sons, the owners of Balvenie and Glenfiddich (30%). This
partnership (the '1887 Company Ltd.') controls malt distilleries like Macallan and Glenrothes.
Glenturret is one of the few remaining distilleries in the Midlands of
Scotland, relatively close to Aberfeldy, Deanston and Tullibardine.
The surrounding area is known as Perthshire and the distillery draws
its process water from Loch Turret.
The 'Famous Grouse Experience' is primarily aimed at novices, but
at least it is located not far from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
1) Given the fact that they founded their 'Famous Grouse
Experience' at Glenturret distillery, it's hardly surprising that
the Glenturret malt whisky is an important component of
the Famous Grouse blended whisky.
3) The people at Glenturret had a knack for PR, even before the 1887 Company Ltd. took control in 1999.
In the 1980's they managed to get their distillery cat 'Towser' in the Guiness Book of Records for allegedly killing
exactly 28,899 mice. Hmmmm. Let's think about that for a moment... How did they arrive at such a precise number?
That would mean one or even several people at the distillery have had to keep detailed records of Towser's exploits.
Surely that couldn't have been a full-time job, but still.... Think of all the USEFUL things they could have been doing
in thouse thousands of hours - like trying to get rid of that oily smell of younger Glenturrets ;-)
4) There are six warehouses at the Glenturret distillery, which hold over 10,000 casks of maturing whisky.
2) Around 2010 Glenturret produced around 150,000
litres of alcohol per year - a fairly modest quantity.
That means that the distillery runs at only half capacity
and it is among the 'smallest' Scotch whisky distilleries.
5) The 'Famous Grouse Experience' attracts some 100,000 visitors each year.
2000 - A series of vatted malt whiskies
(a.k.a. blended malt whiskies) from
The Famous Grouse is introduced.
2003 - The 12yo official bottling of
Glenturret malt whisky is replaced by
a younger 10yo standard bottling. .
2009 - Glenturret starts to produce some batches of peated whisky for the Black Grouse blend.
Since the Black Grouse was introduced in 2007 and Edrington didn't own any distilleries that were able to produce
(heavily) peated whisky, we have to assume that they bought the peated malt whisky from others beforehand.
2011 - In August 2011 the first edition of the 'Whisky & Music Festival' is held at the Glenturret distillery.
2002 - Glenturret distillery is turned
into a Whisky Disneyland called
"The Famous Grouse Experience".
The fact that the owners are willing to
invest 2,5 million GBP in the visitor
centre proves that they are confident
about the commercial possibilities of
the 'touristic' aspect of Scotch whisky.
2018 - The Edrington Group announces plans to concentrate (even) more on luxury whisky.
The fairly mediocre whisky from Glenturret doesn’t fit that image, so the distillery is put up for sale.
Glenturret 1977/2012 (48.8%, Maltbarn, ex-Bourbon Cask, 249 Bts.)
Nose: Dried fruits and hints of burnt caramel. The faintest whiff of smoke perhaps? Passion fruit? Ripe pears?
Opens up a bit over time, but not much further development I could detect - a bad nose day perhaps?
I risked adding five drops of water and this indeed produced some suggestive whiffs but no details.
Taste: Very gentle, soft and smooth start, slowly warming up and growing sweeter towards the centre.
Over time the fruits (apples, pears and perhaps strawberries) became unusually pronounced - nicely aged!
And it actually showed some very decent tannins in the finish - often not the case with bourboned malts.
Score: 83 points - not really my favourite 'style' of malt whisky, but the 2nd best Glenturret I ever tried.
Glenturret 12yo 1993/2006 Port Finish (43%, Chieftain's, C#90771/90772, 1740 Bts.)
Nose: A little fruity. Nutty, evolving into oily and 'veggy'. String beans. Something salty?
Evolving organics. Surprisingly complex for a relatively young Glenturret; I've had far worse...
Taste: Soft for a second, then the salty peaty tastes emerge. Very potent for a Midlands malt whisky.
Score: 81 points - recommendable (which can't really be said about most other Glenturrets...)
Glenturret 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 2005) - sampled quickly in Scotland
Nose: I found lemon, oil and fish in the nose, which was quite sweet.
Taste: It started smooth on the palate but grew quite gritty and dry over time. Some wood and spices.
Score: 70 points - which puts it precariously close to a 'questionable' status.
That means we still haven't found a Glenturret OB yet we could recommend to anybody. But we'll keep trying...
Glenturret 16yo 1988/2005 (50.1%, SMWS, 16.28, 'Violets and Vanilla Fudge')
Nose: Well, I get the vanilla... Can't quite get the violets, although it does have something perfumy.
Here it doesn't offend me though, like in old batches of the Bowmore Darkest - and I actually prefer it over oil.
Without it it might have been a fairly soul-less malt; now at least it has an identity. Not the 'house style' though.
Taste: A little sharper than I expected at 50%. Well, at least at first - then the oily staits smooth it over.
You can taste it has matured some extra years - but it must have been a fairly average cask. Plywood.
Score: 76 points - not bad (certainly for a Glenturret), but I expected a little more from the SMWS.
Glenturret 10yo 1991/2002 (55.5%, Hart Brothers, Distilled 10/1991, Bottled 9/2002, CVI)
Nose: Nice and sweet. Dusty. Paint thinner. Hint of cinnamon candy.
Nutty. More coastal with more organics with a few drops of water.
Reminds me a bit of a rye whisky. It needs some time to fully develop.
Taste: Simply wonderful! Sweet and dry - hard to describe but very enjoyable.
After adding a little water some liquorice emerges. A palate that beats the nose!
Score: 84 points - making it by far the best Glenturret I've tried so far. Impressive for a 10yo Midlander.
Glenturret 12yo 1990/2002 Sherry Finish (43%, Chieftain's, D. July, B. December, C#9076-9077, 1584 Bts.
Nose: My notes for this Chieftain's Choice expression are brief: "Very odd... Not my style, but very interesting."
Taste: Like with most other Glenturrets I've tried there were several oily / veggy elements in the taste.
Score: 70 points - very different from the 12yo OB from the 1990'a, but about the same score.
Glenturret 19yo 1978/1998 (43%, The Ultimate by Van Wees) - a gift from my boss in 1999.
Nose: It's very light for a malt of almost 20 years old, both in colour and nose.
The bouquet develops into a faint sweetness. Not very impressive, nose-wise.
Taste: The taste is quite another story! A short, dry start is followed by one change after another.
Very complex; way better than the 12yo OB. If it hadn't been for the unimpressive nose, this would have
been potential Top 10 material; one of the few malts that taste better than it smells. Now, it clocks in at 75 points.
Score: 75 points - but based on the taste alone it would have ended up in the mid-80's.
Glenturret 12yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1996, 70cl)
Nose: Crisp, slightly oily. A bit like the Tormore 12 at first sight, which isn't a good thing, really.
Not very impressive - nose-wise. This was my first Glenturret, but I'm not in any hurry to try another.
Taste: Seems almost watery at first, but it lights up your mouth long after it's swallowed.
Despite the long afterglow not my type of malt; a preliminary rating around 70 points.
Score: 69 points - after trying it a second and a third time I couldn't put it in the 70's.
Glenturret 12yo (43%, OB, Oval gold label, Bottled mid 1980's, 5cl)
Nose: Wow! Quite an expressive nose. Well.... It expresses a lot of vagueness very loudly. Hint of Maggi?
Over time it mellows out, becoming actually very pleasant after some 20 minutes. Some freshly squeezed celery.
Taste: Bweurgh! Phew, this has certainly passed the point of no return. Harsh feeling.
Again, it's a combination of perfumed antiseptic stuff and dust. And time doesn't redeem it.
Score: 48 points - I don't know if time is the sole culprit here, but oxidation ruined the palate for me.
Something in the taste reminded my of my grandmother's moth balls and old clothing cabinet.
My own tasting notes for some expressions of Glenturret malt whisky are collected on this distillery profile.
Those were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Glenturret I've tried over the years, but the notes should
convey how I felt about those whiskies. However, these tasting notes only reflect my purely personal opinion.
Your tastes might be different from mine - so it would be prudent to check out some other opinions as well.
Serge Valentin’s Whiskyfun website offers tasting notes on thousands of whisky bottlings, including Glenturret.
The Malt Maniacs Monitor provides opinions of several other aficionados on over 15,000 different whiskies.
But perhaps you'd like to read a little bit more about whisky in general or single malt Scotch whisky in particular?
In that case, you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky - 10 chapters filled with (almost)
everything you need to know in order to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of single malt whisky. Or, if you’d like
to dig a little deeper, the Whisky Lexicon offers more detailed information on a bunch of whisky-related topics.
Soon after acquiring United Distillers the new owners selected Glenturret as the
location for their 'Famous Grouse Experience' - a.k.a. 'Whisky Disney'. It may
not be the perfect experience for seasoned malt whisky imbibers, but those
who are not whisky nerds it can be an educational & enjoyable experience.
Building the new visitor center required an investment of over 2,5 million
pounds, but it may have been worth it - the Famous Grouse Experience
quickly became one of Scotland's premier tourist attractions.
Meanwhile, the 'presence' of Glenturret on the shelves of liquor stores
around the world has changed as well. During the 1990's a 12 years old
expression was available (a bottle is shown above; the label at the right),
but the profile was a little too 'oily' for me to go crazy over it. Nevertheless,
it was an excellent alternative to almost every 'premium' blended whisky in the
same price range. Nowadays Glenturret's 'standard' bottlings are 8yo and 10yo.