Restaurant Review: Lalique at The Glenturret
Richard Hopton visits the ambitious new Lalique restaurant at The Glenturret.
The Highlands Go Haute
Nestled in a wooded valley beside the River Turret in the glorious Perthshire countryside is an exciting new experiment. The setting could scarcely be more traditional: the low, white- painted, stone distillery with ‘Glenturret’ picked out in black lettering; massed oak casks waiting to be filled with a malt whisky that will delight connoisseurs the world over. And, just a few yards away, a fine-dining restaurant that is changing the face of haute cuisine in Scotland.
The Glenturret has claims to be the oldest working distillery in Scotland, having produced its first whisky in 1763. In March 2019, it was acquired by Lalique in partnership with the Swiss entrepreneur Hansjörg Wyss; the new owners were determined to restore Glenturret to its rightful place among the great whiskies of Scotland after a long period of anonymity. The relaunched brand – in a fine-looking Art Deco- inspired bottle – has won no fewer than 31 awards in recent international spirit tastings.
The Perthshire HQ has long welcomed visitors but the new owners had a greater ambition: to open a fine-dining restaurant in the distillery. To this end, part of the building has been reconfigured to create a dining room, kitchen, bar and wine-tasting room. The owners have recruited Mark Donald, an established star of the Scottish culinary scene with a starry CV that includes stints at Noma, Hibiscus and Number One at The Balmoral.
The restaurant is tied to the distillery by more than mere physical proximity: it is dedicated to reflecting in its food the alchemy of creating fine whisky or, as John Laurie, the managing director of The Glenturret, puts it, ‘bringing the distillery into the restaurant’. A good example of this is Mark’s wonderful malted barley sourdough bread, which reproduces in edible form the essential ingredients of whisky.
Mark is committed to using the best local ingredients: Highland Wagyu beef, Scottish lamb, fish and shellfish as well as ingredients – wild garlic, morels, sweet cicely – foraged in the woods surrounding the distillery. The Glenfizz cocktail with which we started the evening included dandelion cordial made from plants picked in the distillery grounds, and was served with a raspberry, liver, and cocoa amuse-bouche – an unforgettable treat.
The Scottish cherrystone clam, served raw in its shell with gooseberry and pepper, was succulent and subtle. The main course of mutton with asparagus, morels and a haggis waffle was Scotland on a plate. All Mark’s dishes were immaculately balanced, innovative and wonderful to eat.
While this partnership between fine whisky and haute cuisine is a new departure for the whisky industry, it’s commonplace in the wine world: Lalique’s chairman and CEO, Silvio Denz, is an oenophile who owns an enviable collection of French grands vins, including Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, which boasts a restaurant with a Michelin star.
Will the Glenturret follow suit and become the first whisky distillery to headline the Guide? Only time will tell, but with Mark at the stove its ambitions are clear.
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