SCOTLAND’S oldest working distillery has unveiled a new managing director while revealing moves into the gin and luxury accommodation markets.

The Glenturret in Crieff has appointed Jen Baernreuther to lead the distillery as it prepares to celebrate its 261st anniversary next month.

Ms Baernreuther, who joins from the Pernod Ricard-owned Speciality Drinks Group, owner of The Whisky Exchange, takes over on March 25.

She succeeds John Laurie, who has presided over a radical transformation of the Perthshire distillery since taking over five years ago. Mr Laurie had joined Edrington around two years before the Scotch whisky giant sold The Glenturret to Lalique Group of France in 2019, and was then asked by the new owner to take over the distillery with a remit to establish it as a single malt brand in its own remit. Under Edrington, The Glenturret was best known as the home of the Famous Grouse Experience.

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Ms Baernreuther, who is originally from the Scottish Borders and is a graduate in psychology and business management from the University of Glasgow, said: “I am thrilled to be joining The Glenturret as managing director at this stage of their journey.

“John and the team have done an amazing job of building the business and brand credentials, with Bob [Dalgarno, whisky maker] and Ian [Renwick, distillery manager] leading the charge on producing whiskies being recognised for their exceptional liquid credentials. Coupled with an incredible hospitality offering and new brand home, The Glenturret has a unique position in the industry that I am confident will deliver strong future growth and prosperity.”

Under Mr Laurie, The Glenturret brand established markets at home and abroad for its single malt, and opened a critically acclaimed restaurant, Lalique, which now holds two Michelin stars. The distillery was named Scotch whisky producer of the year by the independent IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) in 2023 and has also won numerous tourism awards.

Speaking exclusively to The Herald Mr Laurie, who is returning to work for Edrington on The Glenrothes Speyside malt brand, said it had been an “amazing opportunity” to have relaunched The Glenturret.

“It was a once in a career opportunity, to completely rebrand and reposition and product, and take it into that luxury space. I was absolutely delighted to do that. But the reality is that the commute to Glenturret from my house is a 114-mile round trip. Seven years of doing that took its toll.

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“But I am incredibly proud of all the huge achievements that we made at The Glenturret. It was an amazing period of time. There are not many times you get a chance to do something like that. [Winning] IWSC producer of the year was really the top of the tree for me from the whisky brand’s perspective. To take a brand that hardly anybody had ever heard of, and in four years’ time be the IWSC Scotch producer of the year, I felt particularly proud of that.

“Of course, we are really proud of the two Michelin stars. The tourism team got the gold award in the green tourism section from VisitScotland as well. Positive Luxury gave us an award for sustainability. It wasn’t all me, we had an amazing team, and everybody was excited by the common purpose of an opportunity to do something that hadn’t been done before.”

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Mr Laurie leaves as The Glenturret moves into the white spirits market with the launch of The Aberturret Gin, pitched squarely at the premium end of the market. While he acknowledges that the gin market has no shortage of brands, Mr Laurie believes “there is still a great deal of scope for premium-space gin – really high quality, crafted gin”.

He said: “It is not just another Scottish gin. It is following the same distillation methods that made The Glenturret famous. We have a higher ABV (alcohol by volume) than your standard gin. We actually have some new-make Glenturret spirit in the botanicals, which has not been done before.”

Mr Laurie added that markets such as South-east Asia, Dubai and Latin America “still have growth potential” for gin. The Aberturret is now in the hands of The Glenturret’s Italian and French distributors and is on its way to Latin America, as well as being available in the UK, including at the distillery shop in Crieff, Mr Laurie said.

Meanwhile, The Glenturret has also just opened Aberturret Estate House, a private hideaway with six bedrooms which can be hired for exclusive use, on its Crieff property. The building was at one time the Dower House of the Murray Clan, the owners and founders of The Glenturret Distillery more than 260 years ago.

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Ms Baernreuther said of the new projects: “The Aberturret House has a special place in the history of The Glenturret, so bringing it back into the estate feels right. The house itself if very beautiful and has been renovated sympathetically to create elegant accommodation in a very unique location. Whilst the house will be available for exclusive hire, we will also be using it to host special guests visiting the distillery and restaurant, bringing together the elements we have at The Glenturret.

“The official launch of The Aberturret Gin this month is very exciting as it is our first foray into another spirits category, whilst remaining true to our distilling origins. The gin was inspired by the origins of gin and although it is not meant to be reminiscent of the Genever style from a flavour perspective, the addition of our new-make barley single malt not only pays homage but adds a unique complexity to our gin.

“Created by some amazing palates including our own Mark Donald who helped forage local botanicals, the higher strength and classic London-dry juniper forward style makes The Aberturret Gin the perfect Martini gin.”