Last week I had the opportunity to visit the oldest whisky distillery in Scotland, The Glenturret. This quaint distillery is located north-west of Crieff in the picturesque county of Perthshire. The collection of whitewashed buildings straddle the banks of the River Turret, its cascading freshwater used in the distilling process of this renowned whisky. Although I enjoyed a quick tour of the distillery itself, I was here to experience the distillery’s new addition, The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant.
Officially opening on the 28th July, this spectacular new establishment is the first fine dining restaurant in Scotland to be housed within a distillery. The Glenturret is headed up by Head Chef Mark Donald, who joins from Michelin-starred Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh. Although I am an avid foodie and couldn’t wait to sample the dishes on offer, the mention of Lalique was yet another aspect that really intrigued me. After studying interior design a few years back, I have been obsessed with the craftsmanship and intricate work of this opulent French glassmaker. After witnessing upon the walls of The Ritz Rivoli Bar in London and the renowned sculptural fountain outside The Savoy, I couldn’t wait to see glimpses of Lalique in this new space in Scotland.
As you wander past the traditional distillery towards the restaurant and take in the sweet whisky aroma that hangs in the air, you begin to catch sight of numerous Lalique touches. The first is a chic sliding door with full panels of sculpted glass surrounded by elegant high-gloss walnut along with a stunning armoire.
As the door slides open and you walk into the new restaurant, it truly transforms you from traditional a distillery to a fine dining venue. The sophisticated restaurant is separated into three distinct spaces; The Salon, The Lalique Bar and The Dining room. Although each area has its own unique style, they all blend seamlessly together to create a cosy yet spacious room.
The Salon is awash with the most beautiful hue of blue from the soft furnishing and curtains which gracefully frame the sash windows. Dispersed coffee tables are elegantly embellished with Lalique vases filled with fresh flowers whilst stunning Lalique lamps add extra opulence to the space. The Salon is where guests can experience an exquisite afternoon tea which includes a delicious selection of epicurean treats created daily by the dedicated in-house pastry chefs.
The dining room nestled in the rear of the restaurant is both bright and welcoming due to the expansive windows that wrap around the room, flooding the area with light. With only a few tables covering twenty-six spaces the dining room is a more intimate affair and features two impressive five-tier Lalique chandeliers. For the restaurant Mark Donald has created a varied tasting menu that is inspired by The Glenturret itself and showcases the very best of what Scotland has to offer. Most of the vegetables, herbs and fresh flowers used in the dishes are sourced from nearby Tomnah’a Market Garden. What is equally impressive is the vast range of 420 different types of wines to accompany these well-executed dishes. Although I wanted to revel in this space a little longer I was here to experience the expertly curated bar lunch menu in the equally stunning Lalique Bar.
The Lalique Bar located in the heart of the room is long and refined and exudes the high-gloss walnut finish that is used throughout the room. Here you can choose to sit at the numerous tables or perch at the bar to enjoy a selection of small plates and delicious dishes.
Before any food passed my lips, I was offered a tasty cocktail consisting of Glenturret Triple Wood Whisky, Bourgoin Verjus, Soda water and a dash of saline water. I wouldn’t normally gravitate towards a whisky cocktail but this was a spicy, sweet, sour and salty combination that was truly delicious. I also couldn’t take my eyes off the golden liquid gleaming through the elegantly made Lalique decanter and glasses.
One thing that I appreciated about the bar lunch menu was that there are small nuances of the distillery that are noticeable through the ingredients. The tasty crusty bread not only contained the barley used to make the whisky, but it is also housed in a wooden ‘shuttle box’, a piece of equipment used in whisky-making to test the consistency of the grist. Along with the selection of bread, a plethora of small plates were laid out in front of me. Gordal olives, spiced cashews and cured meats and pickles were just some of the choices available on the menu. I was especially impressed with the fresh oysters delicately laced with a tangy and vibrant green kipper vinaigrette.
Next up I continued the seafood theme by choosing their Orkney Scallop which is served in its shell and delicately decorated with small flowers. The scallop was sweet and succulent and just melted in my mouth. I especially enjoyed the addition of gooseberry, girolle mushrooms and a dressing of roast pork butter. The combination was simply divine, providing a myriad of flavours and textures and taking the dish to the next level.
Others chose the Loch Etive Sea Trout and Beef Short Rib which looked equally tantalising. Along with my seafood dish I was served a Sussex Pinot blanc Pinot Gris Rathfinny 2018 wine, which was the perfect accompaniment due to its light and refreshing characteristics.
There is one thing that I never skip and that is dessert. Although the bar lunch menu is limited in dessert choices the one that stood out for me was the Maracaibo 65% Chocolate and Malted Barley. The dish came out looking like a work of art with shards of chocolate and differing textures. The crunchy malted barley went perfectly with the smooth rich chocolate. Again the barley was a gentle reminder of how aspects of the distillery weaved their way through each of the dishes.
Last but not least I was served a dessert wine, Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey ‘La Chapelle de Lafaurie’ Peyraguey, Sauternes, 2015. It was decadently smooth on the palate with tantalising nuances of honey, apricot and marmalade and a perfect ending to a delectable meal.
I couldn’t leave the restaurant without trying a selection of the acclaimed Glenturret whisky. Luckily the Lalique bar offers a range of flight tastings that allow you to completely delve into the world of the Glenturret’s whisky range. I enjoyed The Glenturret Trinity flight which included their 10YO Peat Smoked, 12 YO and 15YO. As someone who has just started to explore this renowned Scottish nectar, it was great to learn about the process of whisky making and discover the different taste profiles of each of their whiskies. My favourite had to be the 12YO with its rich, layered complexity and fruit cake nuances.
With the bar lunch dishes being so exquisite and the tremendous choice of wines and whiskies on offer, I can only imagine what the dinner menu will be like. The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant is unique, sophisticated and a little slice of luxury amid the Perthshire countryside. The combination of sumptuous interiors, friendly and knowledgable staff and mouthwatering dishes is sure to entice visitors from far and wide. It gets the Blu Blazer Guy seal of approval and I will be looking forward to returning as soon as I possibly can.
The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant officially opens 28th June 2021.