02 Sep FAMOUS FOR A REASON – AN INSIGHT INTO THE SPIRITUAL HOME OF THE FAMOUS GROUSE
Small meets huge and modest meets famous at Glenturret Distillery in Crieff. That’s because, as well as being Scotland’s oldest working distillery and a place that still prides itself on mashing its whisky ingredients by hand, Glenturret is also home to The Famous Grouse Experience.
It’s an unusual marriage at first glance: the public face of a whisky mega brand in a tiny working distillery nestled in the Highlands of Perthshire.
But when drinks company Edrington acquired The Famous Grouse brand in 1999 and talks began about creating a ‘spiritual home’ for the blended whisky, it made sense to locate it in one of Scotland’s most stunning spots, on the outskirts of Crieff.
The idea for The Famous Grouse Experience came from Ken Grier, brands director at Edrington, and Derek Brown, heritage director. Whereas other distilleries focused on the making of single malt whiskies, this one would celebrate blending and offer a unique day out. It would be a visitor experience like no other.
Quoted in the book Famous For A Reason, The Story of The Famous Grouse by Charles Maclean, Derek Brown says: “Our intention was to celebrate the skill and mastery of blending – a different approach to that of other distilleries, which focus on single malt Scotch whisky – but also to create a unique day out – to provide both fun and education through a range of ‘sensory’ interactive displays which immersed them in the alchemy and wonder of The Famous Grouse’.”
More than £2m was invested, with cutting edge technology used to produce motion sensor technology and pioneering audio-visual effects. Shortly after opening in 2002, The Famous Grouse Experience won a BAFTA award for interactive entertainment. While the interactive show is no longer part of the Experience, and the focus has moved onto highlighting the heritage of the whisky and its quality ingredients, tThe awards have continued ever since, ranking The Famous Grouse Experience as one of Scotland’s most popular visitor attractions and the most visited whisky distillery in Scotland. In 2015 it was named ASVA’s Best Visitor Experience of the Year. The latest accolade came from VisitScotland, which awarded five stars for The Famous Grouse Experience’s ‘exceptional’ service and facilities.
And a place that delivers royal treatment to visitors was rewarded with its own royal visit in 2014 when Prince William and Kate, also known as The Earl and Countess of Strathearn, paid a visit to their dukedom. (The area of Strathearn encompasses Crieff). They formally reopened The Famous Grouse Experience after a £250,000 refurbishment, putting The Famous Grouse Experience firmly on the world map.
William and Kate’s visit also launched a popular addition to the distillery’s offering: the chance to bottle your own cask. The royal couple captured their own bottle of whisky from a limited edition cask, signed and dated – something visitors to The Famous Grouse Experience’s gift shop have been doing with various other limited edition whiskies ever since.
But what of the experience itself? There are several tours available and a wide choice of experiences, including nosing and tasting sessions, a look at the traditional methods and equipment that sets Glenturret Distillery apart from others, and even the chance to be a stillman for a day. Just like our Finest Grouse brand, it’s one of the finest distillery visits you’ll get.
If this insight into The Famous Grouse Experience has whetted your appetite for a rich and flavoursome dram, visit our Online Shop and find our Dram of the Month, Mellow Gold, a premium blend with an emphasis on sherry-seasoned casks that delivers a smooth, velvety dram with vanilla and subtly sweet spice.
If you’d like to read more about The Famous Grouse and its origins, the book Famous For A Reason, The Story of The Famous Grouse by Charles MacLean is available to buy in The Famous Shop at Glenturret Distillery.