It may be Scotland's national drink but here in Perthshire we can boast a time-honoured whisky heritage dating back to 1775. That’s the year before America achieved its independence; a time when Robert Burns was still in his teens.
Glenturret Distillery in Crieff is the oldest in Scotland and from their base in the heart of the Crieff community, they are holding onto their open-top mash tun and Douglas Fir washbacks with a genuine reverence for tradition.
Elsewhere, the rest of the world has moved away from mashing by hand and cutting by eye as vital components of the whisky-making process, but Glenturret has held onto them with great tenacity. A genuinely handmade small batch product, The Glenturret doesn’t require many pairs of hands to produce it; just 5 to be precise.
This quality forms the beating heart of Scotland’s favourite Blended Scotch Whisky, The Famous Grouse. The Glenturret itself is a lovingly made pale, golden-lemon malt, with its delicate flavours of orange zest and vanilla, singing out from every glass.
Their ethos shines as brightly as the whisky itself: “By hand and by heart”, is how they like to put it.
Glenturret source their high quality malt from Simpsons Malt on the Scottish borders, and their pure water from The Loch Turret which is situated just 3.5 miles from the distillery. The malted barley is fed into the original grist mill to be ground until it resembles coarse flour.
The Glenturret mash tun is the last remaining hand-operated mash tun in Scotland, with mashing done by hand with a wooden rouser. This approach allows for greater control of the mash which in turn allows for more sugars and thus more alcohol.
The Glenturret wash backs are made from Douglas Fir and the team have a particularly long fermentation time of up 100 hours which helps to build The Glenturret’s distinctive fruity characteristics.
Their stills have a shape and size unique to The Glenturret Distillery. The tall wash still creates a very light spirit and so they continue to use traditional pot stills made of hand-beaten copper. The most significant part of The Glenturret distillation process, is that they run their stills very slowly. This slow distillation helps to build sweeter, lighter characteristics in their spirit.
The stillmen use the skill and judgement built up over generations of experience to cut the spirit by eye using our hand operated spirit sample safe.
The heart of the run is pumped from the still house to the filling store, where the strength of the new make spirit is reduced by the addition of Loch Turret water before being hand filled into oak casks.
The casks are stowed in Glenturret's warehouse and left undisturbed until they feel that the whisky has matured to perfection.
Stuart Cassells, General Manager of The Glenturret has a vision
to preserve the artisan methods of whisky making that have been celebrated at Glenturret Distillery for over 240 years.
“The original vision of James Fairlie, who rejuvenated Glenturret Distillery in the 1950s, was to preserve the traditional art of making whisky and this is something that I believe we need to maintain and celebrate. Today, Glenturret Distillery continues to showcase traditional methods of whisky production, crafted By Hand and By Heart, which offer an authenticity that is rare to behold."
You can visit Glenturret Distillery for the full 'Famous Grouse Experience' and enjoy a day out in bonny Crieff. More on our directory here>>>
Gallery Photographer: Rob McDougall is an award-winning professional photographer and film maker with his roots in photojournalism. Find out more about Rob on his website>>>