Glenturret relaunches with new core whisky range

22 September, 2020

The Glenturret has unveiled a new core range as it plans to launch in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and New Zealand next month.

A joint venture between luxury crystal maker Lalique and Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss, Lalique’s second-largest shareholder, purchased the distillery from Edrington in 2019.

Glenturret previously housed The Famous Grouse Experience visitor centre and welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each year. The whisky produced at the distillery was mainly used for blends, although it did release some bottlings under the Glenturret brand.

It has now been reinvented as a producer of malt whisky under the ownership of Lalique chairman Silvio Denz and Wyss.

The old range has been discontinued, and it will relaunch with a four-strong core range into key markets next month. The range comprises Triple Wood, 10-year-old Peat Smoked, 12 Year Old and 15 Year Old. There are also two limited-edition whiskies: a 25 Year Old and 30 Year Old.

Denz and Wyss set up a joint venture called Glenturret Holdings to purchase the distillery in a deal that valued it at £31 million.

They secured the services of whisky maker Bob Dalgarno, who previously spent 30 years at Macallan, and he has spent the past year creating the new range.

Dalgarno immediately disappeared into the warehouse and spent three months analysing the aged stocks the new owners had inherited from Edrington in the deal.

He described it as “meeting the family”. Dalgarno said: “The warehouse is full of casks, but full of characters. It’s very much alive. I looked at the warehouse, the stock we had, to try to understand the picture of how things fitted, what we could create, and it took some time and thought to build that. It all goes back to the new make spirit. This was the start of the Glenturret journey for me.

“The real challenge was starting off again from the bottom up. Glenturret gives me a different challenge. The wood make up is different, but there is also a great freedom to go and express ourselves here.”

The Triple Wood has an abv of 43% and it has naturally been aged in three different casks – sherry, American and bourbon. The rrp is £47.

Glenturret has a long history of producing peated whisky, with much of it going into The Black Grouse. It is overhauling the process to create peated malts with bolder flavours. The Glenturret 10 Year Old Peat Smoked (rrp £52) is bottled at 50% abv and has notes of sea salt and heather.

The 12 Year Old (46% abv) retails at £60 and the 15 Year Old (55% abv) retails at £110.

“The 15 Year Old encompasses everything that goes on at the distillery,” said Dalgarno. “It’s subtle, yet bold, it’s understated, but it makes a statement at the same time.”

There are just 204 bottles of the 25 Year Old, which has an rrp of £980, while there are 750 bottles of 30 Year Old retailing at £1,600.

We caught up with Dalgarno, distillery manager Ian Renwick and managing director John Laurie to learn more about the relaunch.

“It has been a journey and we are very excited to show it to the world,” said Laurie. “Our ambition is to have the Glenturret as that single malt you have at a special occasion – a wedding or a graduation.

“We will be launching in the UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland and New Zealand in November with Asia and USA to follow in early 2021.

“Key accounts will be HORECA [on-trade] and boutique bottle shops. Our first two years will be crucial to brand growth so making sure our consumers can discover the brand through the trusted advice of their bar tender or bottle shop will be the key to opening their minds to the Glenturret.  We understand that on-trade has been badly hit recently and we are keen to support them as much as we can.”

Glenturret has always had a dubious claim to be Scotland’s oldest working distillery. It was previously touted as dating from 1775, although licensed distilling only started in 1818. The new labels proudly proclaim it to be “Scotland’s Oldest Working Distillery – Since 1763”.

“We have been known as 1775 for many years, and arguably the oldest working distillery in Scotland,” said Laurie. “One of the first things we did was bring in an historian, who looked back and found a rental document, paying rent to the then Scottish Money Clan, the founding family, for the distillery.

“It did say that we were in existence prior to 1763, but as 1763 is now the date that we have evidential proof, that is the date we will use and be comfortable as the oldest working distillery in Scotland.”

The distillery currently produces around 200,000 litres of new make spirit per year and there are eventually plans to increase it to 500,000. “We have plans to increase that in the coming years, but we will never sacrifice quality for quantity,” said Renwick. “We are a very traditional distillery, and that means being true to the past. We’ve got no computer, no flow meters and no automated systems. We have a very small batch process, which makes us very nimble.

“When I heard Bob was coming I was excited, but a little bit anxious as well, thinking how is Bob going to fit into the team. I know he has done some wondrous things in the past, and I’ve been lucky enough to taste quite a few of his whiskies, and I knew he could do a fantastic job, but would he want to change things away from our way of being.

“The first thing Bob did was he disappeared into the warehouse basically for six months. He was opening casks, getting used to the environment, working out how the maturation worked at our distillery compared to what he had done before.”

Dalgarno added: “It was hugely important that I went to the warehouse. It’s meeting the family. We inherited stock, and the first thing for any whisky maker is to understand the stock we have. Could we sustain it in the way it was? Quite simply, no. The make-up of the whisky wasn’t there. We had to change it. That’s always a challenge, getting something in the same style, but let’s be reflective of where we think the distillery is going.”

Laurie has a clear commercial for the brand as it launches in several markets next month. The “Glenturret is a small batch distillery so true scarcity is the main point to convey,” he said. “We manufacture using traditional methods and nothing leaves our doors until we are proud to present it.  We would love to be seen as a brand that has honesty in its values, it is how we communicate in the distillery and hope that is conveyed when we reach our consumers.

“Having a whisky maker like Bob Dalgarno, teaming up with the significant experience of our distiller Ian Renwick is a real example of high performance team work. They communicate frequently, they analyse the spirit character and work tirelessly to get the very best from our new make spirit.”

The renovated visitor centre is also due to reopen in December.

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