The Glenturret, Scotland’s oldest working distillery, will open its spectacular new fine dining experience, The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant, on July 28. Brian Stormont went along to enjoy a first look and sample the food head chef Mark Donald and his team will be serving.
Arriving at the Lalique Restaurant at Glenturret with the spectacular backdrop of the rolling hills around Crieff and alongside the River Turret, you sense this is a day out that will live long in the memory.
The aim of the new restaurant is to provide world-class gastronomy and hospitality at the venue in the idyllic Perthshire countryside.
I was fortunate enough to visit recently and if my short time there is any indication, this is a place that will have guests clamouring to book a table at the 30-cover restaurant.
Enjoying an evening at Lalique isn’t a meal out – it is a full-on gastronomic delight that is more of an experience than simply dining out.
The attention to detail to the food, the wine and the service is exceptional and you are made to feel incredibly welcome – and so special. Every single person employed at the Lalique goes out of their way to make you feel at home.
Of course, the ultimate joy is in the food and the Glenturret Lalique Restaurant and Mark Donald, who joined from Michelin-starred Number One at The Balmoral in Edinburgh, has created a stunning menu.
Glasgow-born Mark built his impeccable culinary credentials through holding positions at some of the world’s best restaurants, including the iconic Noma in Copenhagen, Restaurant Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles (two-star Michelin), Hibiscus (two-star Michelin) and Bentley, Sydney.
His homecoming in 2018 saw him take the reins and retain the Michelin star for Number One at The Balmoral.
The food and drink
Following a short tour of the distillery, we were treated to a glass of Champagne Deutz, Brute, Cuvee Villa Rene Lalique in Glenturret Lalique’s incredible wine cellar. This was accompanied by a raspberry, liver and cocoa amuse bouche.
The amuse bouche was absolutely delicious and accompanied the crisp and moreish Champagne perfectly. The artistry that had gone into it was quite simply astonishing.
We then moved on to the whisky bar where we enjoyed a GlenfizZ cocktail, made from Glenturret Triple Wood whisky, dandelion, verjus and soda water.
This was served with a raw cherrystone clam, gooseberry and pepper dulse – again a lovely accompaniment.
The cordial in the cocktail had actually been made from dandelions foraged from around the distillery which is actually a feature of many of the dishes served in the Lalique restaurant, with many of the ingredients found growing around Glenturret.
Tattie scone with a difference
It was now time to meet head chef Mark and his team in his kitchen where they really showed off their talent and inventiveness with his take on a tattie scone.
The tattie scone had had a little yeast added to it to allow it to rise a little, and it was topped with Highland wagyu sirloin and daurencki (royal caviar). This was an absolute delight and, for me, took the humble Scottish breakfast favourite to another level.
After enjoying an introduction to the delights of Glenrturret’s Lalique, it was time to move on to the main event – dinner itself.
Available for dinner five nights a week, the seasonal and contemporary multi-course tasting menu offered at The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant has been created by Mark and his team to highlight the exceptional Scottish produce sourced and foraged in the local terroir.
Culinary journey at Glenturret Lalique
Diners are taken on a culinary journey guided by a sense of place and introduced to unique and playful flavour combinations reflective of Mark’s global experience.
Malted barley sourdough bread, home-baked in the kitchen by Mark and his team using the same grains that make the whisky, kicked off the experience.
Served with house-cultured butter and some local honey, this was the ideal introduction to an evening of food and drink at Lalique.
The first course was line-caught mackerel, nectarine and datterino tomato, which was accompanied by a Bordeaux Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey, Grand Vin Sec 2015.
The mackerel was exceptional, with the nectarine and datterino complementing it perfectly, as did the wine which showed me right away that a great deal of time has been spent ensuring the wines and food are the ideal pairings.
I must admit to not being the biggest lover of lamb, so when I learned that spring lamb was to be the next course my heart sank a little.
However, I needn’t have worried as this was a dish that would certainly convert me over the meat. Served with white asparagus, morels and a haggis waffle, the lamb was perfectly cooked with the pink beautifully pink.
Everything else on the plate was an absolute joy and, served with a Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classe Chateau Faugere 2009, a wine which made the entire combination sing.
A pre-dessert of Leadketty strawberry, celery and sweet cicely was a taste sensation the perfect palate cleanser before moving on to the main dessert which was an Amedei mille-feuille, green coffee, Glenturret 12-year-old caramel.
If you are a lover of desserts, then this, served with the incredible Sauternes Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey 1er Grand Cru Classe 1855 2016, will make your evening.
Rich chocolate, coconut ice cream and some blackcurrants combined on the plate to treat the diner to a rollicking finale of a symphony of joy displayed in food and drink.
The elegant design and decoration at the restaurant were inspired by place and history: centuries-old brickwork is left exposed and the blues and reds from The Glenturret and Murray clan tartans combine with soft golden barley tones to create an ambience of crafted elegance.
Two Lalique Champs Elysées chandeliers decorate the restaurant, as well as barley motifs crafted from Lalique crystal adorning polished oak doors and the beautiful tartan furniture; guests will eat and drink from bespoke Lalique glass and tableware.
Alongside an extensive fine wine list, a spectacular whisky bar will offer more than 250 spectacular whiskies.
For those visiting Glenturret Lalique Restaurant during the day, indulgent afternoon tea will be served seven days a week.
A thoughtful elevation of the traditional afternoon tea, the selection of seasonal savouries created with the finest Scottish ingredients will be offered alongside sweet delicacies, such as an exceptional Maracaibo 65% & Malted Barley Gateaux, made with the same grains used for making The Glenturret and served tableside from the trolley.
Speaking of the new addition to the distillery, managing director at The Glenturret, John Laurie said: “We are very happy to finally welcome guests again here at the distillery, and cannot wait to welcome guests at the restaurant.
“The Glenturret has long been home to some of the finest whiskies in the world, and it seems fitting that, with Mark Donald’s help we will now be able to provide visitors with an elevated dining experience that reflects the skill, heritage and Scottish heart that goes into producing such exceptional liquids.”
The Glenturret Lalique Restaurant will open its doors on July 28. Reservations are now open on www.theglenturretrestaurant.com