The house pour

Glenturret distillery celebrates the opening of Aberturret House, its own Scottish country home available for private hire, with a gin to drink while relaxing there

Food and Drink 22 May 2024

The Aberturret Estate House exterior (photo: Schnapps photography)

The Aberturret Estate House (photo: Schnapps photography)

As Airbnb listings go, this would be a doozy: six-bedroomed Scottish country house with designer interior and modern art collection, with one of the world’s oldest whisky distilleries and a two Michelin-starred restaurant attached. Not that the Aberturret Estate House is listed on Airbnb. This is strictly an “enquiries via this email” property.

Glenturret, the distillery in Crieff, Perthshire, has a long history, but for much of its 260 years of operation it was a fairly modest one – for a long time, it was best known from a signpost on the A9 to The Famous Grouse Experience (it supplied the blend) and an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records for the 24-year reign of terror visited on mice at the distillery by a cat called Towser.

Then, in 2019, the distillery was acquired by a joint venture between the Lalique Group and American-Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss. In some ways, the transformation has been remarkable – master distiller Bob Dalgarno was poached from Macallan; ultra-aged single malts in crystal decanters have been released; a Lalique boutique opened on site; and the Glenturret Lalique restaurant has been gathering stars. In others, things have hardly changed: while guests arrive in chauffeur-driven cars from Edinburgh for a meal, distillery workers are rolling barrels in and out of the Filling Store and filling them by hand. And there are distillery cats lounging around the shop among £2,000 glass objets.

Truffled Baron Bigod and Sauternes Apricots
Truffled Baron Bigod and Sauternes Apricots comprise a bar lunch at The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant

Aberturret Estate House, close to the distillery, adds another dimension to the luxury offering – part brand home for Glenturret’s promotional activities, part private hideaway that anyone can book. Aberturret House was built some time in the 1800s as a dower house for the Murray family, the Perthshire landlords who built Glenturret. It was used as a family home until 2023, when it was refurbished, ready for this year’s opening.

The new owners have avoided the potential design traps. For a start, it doesn’t look like a Lalique showroom – there are a few striking pieces made with the signature brushed glass, but they are used sparingly. Equally, guests will not be terrorised by tartan or impaled on stag racks at every turn. This is a celebration of modern Scottish taste – no less proud of its roots, but not stuck in the past. There are Lovat Mill woollen throws and Harris Tweed cushions – but only their contemporary fabrics. Those bright highlights complement a muted colour palette and uncluttered aesthetic throughout the house.

The Aberturret Estate House interior (photo: Mark Seager)
The Aberturret Estate House interior (photo: Mark Seager)

What this does is allow the house’s art collection to grab the attention. Or, rather, that of The Fine Art Society. The gallery in Dundas Street, Edinburgh, specialises in Scottish art from the 19th and 20th centuries and will supply Aberturret House with a rotating collection (all of which can be bought), including pieces by the likes of Eduardo Paolozzi and EA Walton, among other Glasgow Boys.

It’s not the only Scottish culture celebrated in the house. The property manager Colin Hart has curated the experience with some fun touches. There are record players in the sitting room and in a couple in the bedrooms, accompanied by a vinyl collection comprising exclusively Scottish artists, from the underrated ’80s pop of Deacon Blue, via indie darlings Belle & Sebastian to current prog-hip-hop darlings Young Fathers.

The fridge in the huge and welcoming kitchen (which is bound to be the hub of any weekend stay at Aberturret) is stocked with Irn-Bru and Scottish craft ales, while there is a basket stocked with Tunnock’s finest. There are bottles of Glenturret available for those who fancy a dram, but it has been recognised that not everybody staying will be a whisky lover. To that end, the opening of Aberturret House has been marked by the launch of a gin.

A bottle of The Aberturret Gin
The Aberturret Gin

As you’d expect from a drinks company part-owned by the luxury French glassmaker, the bottle is elegant and striking. The liquid inside is no afterthought: it is a proper juniper-led gin, but smooth and balanced, with a special ingredient that gives it an unctuous, complex extra layer – new-make spirit from the Glenturret whisky stills. It rounds out negronis, gives depth to a G&T, but is best in a martini, sipped in the stylish bar lounge of Aberturret House, next to the dining room.

The Aberturret Martini
The Aberturret Martini

Private or corporate guests can organise catering for a dinner at Aberturret – one of an array of concierge options that can be arranged in advance. These include preferential tee times for golfers or, if you’re not a masochist, actual fun activities on site such as falconry and archery. Of course, there is an attraction a short walk away, past warehouses containing liquid gold. As well as private tours of the distillery, guests can book in for a meal at Mark Donald’s award-winning restaurant.

The Aberturret Negroni
The Aberturret Negroni

It is everything you’d hope for; service is that perfect combination of professional (for example, remembering water preference from a previous meal) but with genuine and amusing Scottish banter. The food is similarly balanced. Signature dishes include waygu beef and caviar – but it’s served on a tattie scone. There are visual gags on lobsters, fish finger sandwiches and more, but at no point does the humour undermine the delicacy and depth of flavour.

Meals finish up with “The Sweetie Box” – a puzzle cube that opens out to display petit fours. Aberturret guests have the option of taking those in a doggie bag back to the house – after all, a dram and Gerry Rafferty’s City to City await… ‘another crazy day, you’ll drink the night away and forget about everything’.

Prices for exclusive hire of Aberturret House start at £3,000 per night; enquiries via Aberturret gin, £45;