Scotland’s Famous Grouse distillery is the country’s oldest and most visited FROM: Pierre De Villiers 

One of the first things you notice when visiting the Famous Grouse distillery at Glenturret in Crieff is how nervous staff members are around cameras. No sooner had I lifted my Canon to get a great shot of a copper pot still than our tour guide raced over wagging her finger. So pregnant is the air with fumes that a spark from my camera could blow us straight to the Highlands, she explained. Best wait until I’m outside before blasting away.

Fortunately there isn’t an inch of Scotland’s oldest and most visited distillery that’s not photogenic. From a gigantic copper grouse that greets you at the gate to dozens of wooden barrels lined up in a nearby warehouse, this is the ideal place for whisky drinkers to worship their favourite tipple.

The site at Glenturret has been synonymous with single malts since the early 18th century when smugglers transported their spirit south to evade the excisemen. A proper distillery was establish in the area in 1775 and, despite some fluctuations in demand, it has been wetting whistles ever since.

With such a rich history it comes as little surprise that things are still done the traditional way at Glenturret. It’s a fascinating process to behold so long as you keep your camera safely packed away.

How is whisky distilled?

Step 1: Milling – malted barley goes through a mill and is ground into grist, which has the appearance of course flour.

Step 2: Mashing – grist is mixed with hot water in a mash tun, a large circular metal container.

Step 3: Fermenting – after 48 hours the liquid has been fermented into a weak alcohol, which is similar to beer.

Step 4: Distilling – The liquid is put inside a copper pot still, where five oil-fired steam heaters make alcohol vapours rise. These fumes travel up the neck of the still and outside to a condenser. The vapours are cooled and become liquid before going to the smaller spirit still where it is distilled a second time. The spirit produced is then separated into three parts. Only the middle part, the heart of the run” becomes whisky.

Step 5: Filling – before being placed in a barrel, the strength of the whisky is reduced by adding the water used for mashing.

Step 6: Maturing – For a period of at least six years, the whisky is placed in a cask and stored in warehouses.”